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Thread: Feds to study fire risks in EV batteries

  1. #11
    I know of two more in the UK, again both related to conversions.

  2. #12
    Lead Moderator Doug_G's Avatar
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    I've personally seen two ICE cars burn. Man do they ever go up! I'll bet the rate of car fires for OEM vehicles will be a tiny fraction compared to ICE cars. One wonders why they are even studying this...

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug_G View Post
    I've personally seen two ICE cars burn. Man do they ever go up! I'll bet the rate of car fires for OEM vehicles will be a tiny fraction compared to ICE cars. One wonders why they are even studying this...
    Because it's always good to know the answer rather than think you know, particularly from a liability viewpoint. Sometimes you get surprised or find out something tangential that turns out useful.

  4. #14
    Head Moderator / Administrator doug's Avatar
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    Fault Found in Battery Pack of Flaming China Taxi |

    cheap Chinese cells and/or an inadequate BMS...

  5. #15
    Member chimpanzee's Avatar
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    Probable Cause
    The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the fire
    in a unit load device at the Federal Express Corporation hub in Memphis, Tennessee, on
    August 7, 2004, was the failure of the unapproved packaging used by AC Propulsion, Inc., which
    was inadequate to protect the lithium-ion battery modules from short circuits during
    Other Incidents Involving Lithium Batteries

    On April 28, 1999, a fire destroyed freight, including primary lithium batteries, on two
    cargo pallets at the Northwest Airlines cargo facility at Los Angeles International Airport. The
    pallets had been taken off a passenger flight from Osaka, Japan. (The airplane was a Boeing 747,
    which Northwest Airlines had operated as flight 0026.) The Safety Board investigated the
    accident and issued safety recommendations to both RSPA and the Federal Aviation
    Administration (FAA). The recommendations asked them to evaluate the fire hazards posed by
    lithium batteries in an air transportation environment and require that appropriate safety
    measures be taken to protect aircraft and occupants (Safety Recommendations A-99-80 and -85,
    According to RSPA, from January 1, 1989, through May 31, 2005, six other incidents in
    air transportation involving lithium batteries have been reported.8 In one incident, the batteries
    were damaged, but there was no evidence of fire or charring. In the other five incidents, there
    was some evidence that the batteries had caused fire or charring of the packaging.
    􀂃 On May 24, 1989, a box of 25 lithium-ion batteries that had been transported on a
    FedEx Express airplane caught fire in the FedEx Express freight sorting facility in
    Memphis. The fire burned a hole “completely though the inner and through the outer
    7 For more information, see “Memphis Event,” Federal Express Battery Fire Evaluation Report, Winchester,
    Clinton, and DeJarnette; Hampton; Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, West Bethesda, MD;
    August 1, 2005.
    8 These are incidents reported to RSPA under 49 CFR 171.16. There may be other unreported incidents.
    8 NTSB/HZB-05/01
    􀂃 On September 26, 1996, wires connected to eight lithium batteries (type unknown)
    apparently shorted and burned a hole in their package, which was in the Airborne
    Express sorting area in Wilmington, Ohio. The batteries were connected in series
    inside a plastic express envelope.
    􀂃 On November 3, 2000, a package of primary lithium batteries in a FedEx Express
    truck near Portland, Oregon, showed evidence of internal leakage and charring
    around one battery.
    􀂃 On April 12, 2002, a fiberboard box started smoking while it was inside a FedEx
    Express ULD in Indianapolis, Indiana. The box contained lithium batteries (type
    unknown) that had short-circuited, starting a fire and damaging the interior of the
    􀂃 On August 9, 2002, a lithium-ion battery in a Samsung minicomputer/Palm Pilot
    wrapped in bubble wrap inside a fiberboard box short-circuited, causing the bubble
    wrap to catch fire and start to melt. The box was discovered by a sorter at the FedEx
    Express hub in Los Angeles, California.
    During the same period, six incidents or accidents involving lithium batteries in other
    modes of transportation were reported, but only one included a fire that was directly related to
    the transport of lithium batteries. On March 5, 2002, near Houston, Texas, a fiberboard box of
    lithium batteries (type unknown) inside an American Freightways truck was crushed when other
    freight fell on top of it. The batteries and box caught on fire.
    RSPA mentioned another incident involving metallic lithium batteries in a 1999
    advisory:9 (Because the incident did not happen in this country, it is not listed in the RSPA
    In May 1994, while being delivered to a handling agent by road, a shipment of
    small [primary] lithium batteries destined for Gatwick Airport in London,
    England, was found emitting smoke from a Unit Loading Device. The shipment
    consisted of batteries, approximately the size of a dime and about 5 millimeters
    high, which had been tossed loosely in a box. The batteries apparently shortcircuited
    when exposed battery terminal tabs came into contact with other
    batteries, and subsequently started a fire that significantly damaged the shipment.
    The Canadian Transportation Safety Board also is investigating an incident involving
    lithium batteries. In April 2004, a flashlight began smoking in a seatback pocket on a Canadian
    airplane. The flashlight became so hot that the flight attendants could not handle it without oven
    mitts. The flashlight had a primary lithium battery and had been manufactured and bought in
    Beijing, China.
    9 Advisory Guidance; Transportation of Batteries and Devices that Contain Batteries, Docket No. RSPA-99-
    5143, Federal Register, Vol. 64, Number 129, p. 36744. July 7, 1999.
    9 NTSB/HZB-05/01
    On November 3, 1999, the FAA Associate Administrator for Civil Aviation Security sent
    a memo to several agencies, including RSPA’s Associate Administrator for the Office of
    Hazardous Materials, identifying four incidents that had happened that year that were not on
    aircraft but did involve the overheating and bursting of lithium-ion batteries in automatic
    external defibrillators. Additionally, the FAA has a record of 30 other incidents involving a
    variety of other types of batteries that shorted and caused damage ranging from smoke to fire and
    Since the August 2004 accident in Memphis, the FAA has begun investigating at least
    two other fires involving lithium-ion batteries. On October 29, 2004, a fire and small explosion
    involving a 9-volt lithium-ion battery occurred on a chartered flight from the Raleigh-Durham
    airport in Morrisville, North Carolina, to Parkersburg, West Virginia. No one was injured, but an
    aircraft seat sustained minor damage. On June 30, 2005, a package containing lithium-ion
    batteries was discovered at the United Parcel Service (UPS) airfreight terminal in Ontario,
    California. One of four battery packs within a package had caught fire and been completely
    destroyed during transportation. The fire was out and the package cold when it was discovered.
    The package containing the battery packs had flown on UPS aircraft from Shanghai, China, to
    Anchorage, Alaska, and on to Ontario.
    In August 2004, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled about 28,000
    lithium-ion battery packs that LG Chem Ltd. of South Korea had manufactured for Apple
    PowerBook computers. The problem was identified as an internal short, which can pose a fire
    hazard. The recall was the response to four incidents: in two, the computers had caught fire; in
    one, the computer had merely smoked; and in one, the odor of burning had come from the
    ventilation grille. All of the batteries were lithium-ion.

    "in order to push the limits, sometimes you have to EXCEED the limits"
    -- B. Varsha, F1 commentator, Australian GP, 2xxx

    One aspect of battery packs for EV use, is the long-term effects of shock/vibration:

    batteries + packaging

    You see bolts, littering roads, loosened up due to high-frequency vibration. Have there been any long-term Validation tests performed for battery-packs? Probably not!

    You will recall the issues the Tesla Roadster had with multi-speed gear boxes (had never been done before)..they failed under Reliability/Validation tests. That 2006 MSNBC video where M. Eberhard took the reporter on a test-ride, where the Roadster pulled over due to a tranny problem. Multiple vendors weren't able to solve the problem. This contributed to the delays & cost over-runs, & EM unfairly blaming Martin & company (incl Wally Rippel, Caltech alumni, former ACP engineer).

    Martin (legitimate Elec Eng degrees from UIUC, my former office-mate in grad-school) had advocated a single-speed, who had the engineering sense to use a conservative approach:

    "Discretion is better part of valor"

    It was EM (whose physics degree was challenge by the lawsuit, & even the Stanford grad-school story is suspect), who went with a risky

    "all or nothing"

    approach: electric door handles, re-design of chassis (inconvenient for his wife)

    You can see EM take bigger & bigger risks (recent SpaceX development), which will eventually catch up with him.

    I will quote R. Feynman (who taught W. Rippel, see Tesla's blog post "Feynman..a curious character"):

    Space Shuttle Challenger disaster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    One of the commission's most well-known members was theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. During a televised hearing, he famously demonstrated how the O-rings became less resilient and subject to seal failures at ice-cold temperatures by immersing a sample of the material in a glass of ice water. He was so critical of flaws in NASA's "safety culture" that he threatened to remove his name from the report unless it included his personal observations on the reliability of the shuttle, which appeared as Appendix F.[41] In the appendix, he argued that the estimates of reliability offered by NASA management were wildly unrealistic, differing as much as a thousandfold from the estimates of working engineers. "For a successful technology," he concluded, "reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."
    That Model S battery pack slung underneath the chassis is ANOTHER unproven concept, without long-term Reliability/Durability tests. Car chassis flex/twist, will also get HIT (high-centered, etc). The packaging better be robust, otherwise there could be a potential short-circuit, fire. A few bad accidents plus fire..major PR disaster. Recall the infamous Ford Pinto in 70's, fire hazard when rear-ended.

  6. #16
    Junior Member RoadsterWarrior's Avatar
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    Forget the theoretical risk of fire in EV's--
    How about today's NY Times, about the fire danger in "millions of Jeep Cherokees"

    Crash Tests Suggest Jeep Fire Risk, Safety Group Says -

  7. #17
    Senior Member roblab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richkae View Post
    Data from here shows that in the late 90s there were about 280,000 passenger vehicle fires per year.
    There are about 130 million cars and 110 million trucks in the US. I am not sure how many of the trucks are passenger vehicles.

    That means about 1 in 900 ICE vehicles has a fire each year.

    That gasoline is dangerous stuff.
    That Same NFPA also quotes that there are 33 reported fires an hour. More than one every two minutes. For me, that's easier to understand. And with the Model S batteries being water cooled, it will be hard to have your "incident of self immolation" at all.

  8. #18
    Head Moderator / Administrator doug's Avatar
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    Report: Electric bus catches fire in Shanghai Autoblog Green

    Fortunately no one was injured. Contrast that with this diesel bus fire mentioned in the comments:
    Channel 6 News -- Bus fire kills 41 passengers in central China

  9. #19

  10. #20
    Dr. EVS rolosrevenge's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
    Right behind you...
    Chevy Volt possibly involved in second garage fire, this time in North Carolina
    I'll have to ask the people at Duke about this. We are working on a smart grid project with them.

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