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We've heard stories in the news lately of vape batteries either exploding or catching on fire, and these batteries are typically being thrown away in the regular waste or recycling streams.

This is a particular problem for waste management companies and waste processors.

Let’s explore how thermal IP cameras can help with this problem.

The problem with waste batteries

For many years, batteries disposed of incorrectly into the general waste stream (particularly the Lithium-ion type which burns at very high temperatures) have caused problems for waste processors. Batteries coming into contact with metal in waste, becoming damaged or crushed, can cause shorts, sparks, and fires. These fires then go on to cause damage at a huge scale, taking up the valuable resources of fire brigades around the country, endangering lives, and heaping costs onto the waste processors, not to mention the environmental concerns around waste fires and hazardous waste.

This is nothing new. However, with the rise of e-cigarettes, the problem has become far worse, with a large proportion of these batteries dumped, by the user, into unsuitable household waste. These batteries cannot be easily detected by the waste handler and end up in waste piles ready to be processed, lying dormant until something happens which causes them to heat up or go on fire.

The way we dispose of our batteries and electrical goods has a real impact in this area and batteries should always be disposed of appropriately.

Waste processing companies need dependable methods of heat, smoke, and fire detection to prevent fires and their consequences, and IP camera technology can, and does, help here. The quicker an issue can be detected, the less likely it is to develop into a major fire, so intelligent analytics, a primary detection method in many modern IP cameras, can provide an early warning of fire, raising the alarm and allowing action to take place quickly.

A pivotal role for the versatile thermal IP camera in battery fire detection

The primary technology of use for detecting temperature changes or fire in waste processing is thermal cameras, or thermometric cameras (as they are called when they can directly measure temperature). Thermal cameras make images from heat in an entirely different way than optical cameras (which work from reflected light, just like your eyes).

The problem with battery fires is tackled with thermal cameras, along with the benefit that they can operate and provide video and temperature detection in any weather. Temperature alarms can easily be set and used to alert operators of a rise in temperature or the breach of a temperature threshold within a pre-set zone. The Axis Q1961-TE (replacing the Axis Q2901) is a popular thermal camera, upgraded for this use case. With its additional built-in early fire detection analytics, coupled with some smart filtering techniques, it can provide the necessary early warnings that waste processors need to be able to act fast.

Thermal cameras can alarm on a temperature differential and help operators identify small temperature changes which can then be investigated further. The Axis Q1961-TE, for example, has a highly accurate temperature detection capability which can be relied on to trigger very quickly when a heat event starts, allowing quick intervention before it turns into a dangerous and costly fire event.

Axis thermometric cameras

Thermal cameras have a strong role to play in protecting our environment and ensuring our waste can be processed in an economical, sustainable and environmentally non-damaging way. When a fire occurs in the waste stream, that waste becomes economically unviable, making it more expensive to recycle and store, raising the costs to the waste processors, which makes it all-around more difficult to handle, and pushing the costs, inevitably, onto the consumer.

The Axis Q1961-TE is our go-to thermal camera for this type of use case. Indeed, it may be the best camera for fire detection. Thermal cameras fit into the fire detection role seamlessly and their integration into almost any video management system is straightforward. Integration with Axis Camera Station or Milestone XProtect will also enable full use of all of the camera's built-in features and analytics, in a way which ensures the camera's true capabilities around detecting battery fires both before and after they happen, will be exploited. An IP camera is more than just a camera, and this is no less true with a thermal camera with this kind of exceptional operational and cost-saving benefit.

A thermal camera is indeed more than just a camera; it is a versatile and proven piece of technology now coming into its own for these types of application, with more capabilities for this purpose being actively developed. See our list of radiometric thermal cameras for heat and fire detection.

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