More than 15,373 AvSax battery fire containment bags are now on aircraft operated by 80 airline companies across the world ... and here's why.
On every flight there may well be hundreds of mobile phones, tablets and laptops all powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries … but there is always a possibility that poor quality or damaged batteries can overheat, causing the device to catch fire.
This is known as thermal runaway, a rapid, uncontrolled chemical reaction within the battery that causes the internal temperature to rise.
When one cell in a battery overheats it can produce enough heat - up to 900°C (1652°F) - to make adjacent cells to overheat. This can cause a lithium battery fire to flare repeatedly which is why AvSax fire and smoke mitigation bags are needed. Some airlines know them as burn bags.
Federal Aviation Administration data in the USA reveals that in just nine years battery-powered devices were involved in 113 incidents with "smoke, fire, extreme heat or explosion" on passenger and cargo planes and people may well remember a spate involving Samsung Note 7 mobile phones which were recalled after it was discovered they had potentially faulty batteries.
The AvSax fire, smoke and heat mitigation and containment bags can minimise the danger in seconds. These lithium battery personal electronic device (PED) fire bags have been deployed in action 33 times since January 2017.
Simply pour at least two litres of water into an AvSax fireproof battery containment bag and then drop the overheating device into it. The water activates the polymer gel inside the bag causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting then the AvSax fire mitigation bag is tough enough to absorb the force.
In short, the AvSax burn bag cools the batteries in the device, reducing the likelihood of the lithium battery catching fire but if it does go into thermal runaway it is all contained within the thermal containment bag.
AvSax managing director Richard Bailey said: “AvSax is the result of many years of development, drawing on experience from the production of a similar device designed for military applications such as suppressing explosions.
“Carrying an AvSax is a ‘one-size-fits-all', easy-to-use method of dealing with an incident involving a portable electronic device that has caught or is showing signs of catching fire in the cabin or on the flight deck.
“With so many poor quality and fake lithium-ion batteries around there’s no doubt that incidents will continue to happen.”
Why AvSax are far more popular with airlines than other battery fire containment bags
AvSax thermal containment bags are designed to continually cool the overheating battery by adding water into the bag once the device has been put in there.
The water is absorbed into the sides of the bag which then expand and close in around the device, stifling any potential flare-up. The bag is made of military-grade material which means it can withstand the force of a blast even if the device explodes.
This use of liquid is recommended by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK and many other fire containment bags don't work this way.
In its guidance the CAA states: “Since the development of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) guidance on dealing with an in-flight battery fire, new products designed for use in response to lithium battery thermal runaway events have become available.
“Products which provide both a cooling and containment capability are typically more aligned to the existing ICAO guidance as when used they are filled with water or other non-flammable liquid to act as a cooling agent.
“After knocking down flames it could conceivably take just a couple of seconds for a personal electronic device to be placed inside a containment bag, allowing it to be moved to a place of safety. Passengers could then return to their seats, mitigating potential unrelated safety hazards such as injury in the case of severe turbulence. Equally, the effect on flight crew in carrying out their duties following an event on the flight deck would be minimised.”
AvSax guarantee and measurements
AvSax thermal containment bags have a manufacturers' guarantee of at least 5 years if stored in good conditions.
They are space-saving to store and are packed in a box that measures 470mm by 270mm by 60mm.
When taken out of the box and ready for deployment, each AvSax measures 590mm by 470mm and the internal measurement is 540mm x 460mm which is plenty of room for any personal electronic device (PED).
Rival battery fire containment bags have a range of sizes such as one for tablets and another for laptops but the fact that the AvSax is a one-size-fits-all means it is far more flexible and cost-effective which is why it's the number one choice for airline companies worldwide.