A white Tesla Model S extensively broken in a crash three weeks earlier and parked in a Rancho Cordova, California scrapyard unexpectedly burst into flames, burning hotter than 3,000°, based on the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.
The electrical automobile was on fireplace when the firefighters arrived. The automobile’s battery compartment rekindled the hearth each time it was briefly put out, the hearth service claimed in an Instagram publish.
“Crews knocked the fire down, but the car kept reigniting and off-gassing in the battery compartment,” the division stated. “Even with direct penetration, the automobile would nonetheless re-ignite as a result of residual warmth. Crews and on-site personnel then created a small pit, positioned the automobile inside it, and stuffed the pit with water successfully submerging the battery compartment.“
According to The Washington Post, the division was in the end in a position to extinguish the blaze after an hour and 4,500 gallons of water. It’s not the primary time the division has battled a Tesla fireplace.
Rare, however tough to extinguish
Like laptop computer computer systems, many battery electrical automobiles are powered by lithium ion batteries, which have a excessive vitality density for his or her measurement. But design defects, poor meeting high quality, defective software program or temperatures above 130° F could cause them to erupt in flames. Batteries may also be broken when the temperature dips beneath 32°.
Once broken, lithium cells launch warmth, damaging close by cells in what’s often called a thermal runaway, which in flip might combust. And since lithium ion battery cell electrodes are positioned shut collectively, they’ve an elevated danger of shorting out, sparking a blaze.
Thankfully, lithium ion battery fires don’t appear to occur typically.
Battery electrical automobiles solely have a 0.03% likelihood of igniting, in comparison with inside combustion engine automobiles’ 1.5% likelihood, based on examine by AutoinsuranceEZ. According to their analysis, there’s a 3.4% likelihood of automobile fires in hybrid electrical automobiles, which comprise each an inside combustion engine and a excessive voltage battery.
However, when electrical automobiles go up in flames, their lithium-ion batteries trigger the hearth to burn hotter, quicker, and necessitate much more water to place out. According to a report by CNBC, a Tesla Model S Plaid that caught fireplace in 2021 in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, burned so scorching it melted the road beneath it.
Other OEMs coping with battery fires
It was removed from the one Tesla fireplace.
Two Teslas parked in a storage in San Ramon, California, caught fireplace in December 2020 and destroyed a house. One automobile was charging in a single day when it ignited, spreading to the opposite Tesla. At least six firetrucks have been wanted to place out the hearth that broke out within the storage. Tesla is aware of fires could be problematic. According to a Tesla Model S guide for first responders, extinguishing a Tesla battery can take as much as 24 hours and eight,000 gallons of water “delivered directly to the battery.”
But Tesla isn’t alone in coping with lithium ion battery fireplace risk in its battery electrical automobiles.
In March, the automobile service Felicity Ace sank within the Atlantic Ocean about 250 miles off the price of the Azores two week after catching fireplace taking with it 3,956 Volkswagen automobiles, with hypothesis that the blaze was ignited by lithium ion batteries.
In late 2021, General Motors quickly halted manufacturing of its Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, and recalled these already offered. Their battery packs have been changed with newer ones believed much less prone to combust. GM has restarted manufacturing of the Chevrolet Bolt utilizing the newer batteries.
But the surfeit of fires led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to launch an investigation in April into battery fires which have pressured the recall of almost 140,000 automobiles constructed by GM, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Stellantis and Volkswagen, all of which had lithium-ion batteries produced by South Korean provider LG Energy Solution.
Is an answer coming?
For automakers, the answer seems to be solid-state batteries.
Solid-state batteries make use of considerably the identical underlying chemistry as lithium-ion expertise, however depend on a substrate that may be shaped of foams or solids, comparable to ceramics, somewhat than a chemical slurry. This basically eliminates the potential for fireplace. Nevertheless, they’re not anticipated for use in EVs till the second half of the last decade.