Fire protection system installed at gigafactory

Uxello Travaux Hauts-de-France is assisting ACC - Automotive Cells Company in the construction of the first phase of its gigafactory in Douvrin, northern France.

The electric vehicle (EV) production chain is of major industrial importance in the automotive sector. Two to six times fewer CO2 emissions are recorded over the entire life cycle of an electric vehicle* compared with an internal combustion engine vehicle. This e-mobility solution helps meet government objectives for greenhouse gas emission reduction, energy dependency and air quality improvement in urban areas.

In the light of this observation, many car manufacturers have announced an increase in the production and marketing of electric vehicles in Europe. Demand for batteries to power these vehicles is soaring.

ACC – Automotive Cells Company is currently building its first EV battery manufacturing plant in Douvrin, in the Hauts-de-France region in northern France. Uxello Travaux Hauts-de-France is the first sprinkler installation company to be selected for a battery plant project in the region.

Uxello Travaux Hauts-de-France has been commissioned by ACC to provide a fire protection system both for the building envelope, including the installation of 16,500 ceiling-mounted sprinkler heads, and for the process aspects of the plant, including 17,000 sprinkler heads.

“With this kind of project, a risk assessment must be conducted in order to identify appropriate solutions for the plant’s products,” explains Nicolas Blumel, manager of the Uxello Travaux Hauts-de-France business unit.

The risk assessment showed that water could be sprayed on most battery components except the electrolyte. If the electrolyte comes into contact with water, this can present a hazard since hydrogen and acids can be produced. CO2 and foam extinguishers are therefore the best solution in the event of a fire.

During the battery manufacturing phase, it’s also crucial to check that the battery complies with safety standards. To do this, it is placed and charged in storage cells. In order to protect each cell, teams from Uxello Travaux Hauts-de-France implement a specific process called flow-drilling. The technique makes it possible to mount the sprinkler heads directly on tubes so as to limit the amount of space taken up in the cell and to eliminate the risk of leaks.

Uxello Travaux Hauts-de-France is also installing 150 fire hose reels, 41 control stations and around 800 tonnes of piping as part of the project.

* Source: French Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion