A video of an Ola electric scooter catching fire in Pune's Lohegaon neighbourhood went viral on social media last month. A day after this event, two people were killed when another e-bike caught fire in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, due to an electrical short circuit.
2-3 days back, around 100 electric vehicles in Jamia Nagar parking lot, New Delhi burnt down to ashes.
Such accidents are a big concern for electric vehicle (EV) industry stakeholders and their customers. However, considering the genuine impact such accidents can have on life and property, a discussion about better safety has flared up on various social media platforms regarding e-bikes.
Some have blamed the fires to be a combination of rising temperatures in our cities and the EV battery's weak thermal management technology. However, blaming the weather is incorrect. various common assumptions about the causes of EV fires, such as the Indian summers and inadequate thermal management, are untrue.
Is it the lithium-ion battery?
While hot weather and insufficient battery thermal management systems might reduce performance and limit battery life, they do not cause fires. Most current Li-ion batteries are designed to turn off automatically when the temperature reaches 45-55 degrees Celsius. Even if these safety precautions aren't built-in, a temperature rise of a few hundred degrees Celsius due to heat created by batteries is inconceivable.
An EV using a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery has to reach a temperature of a few hundred degrees Celsius before experiencing a 'thermal runaway incident,' which results in flames.
So, what is causing a fire in e-bikes?
The answer is a short circuit.
Most battery fires in recent years have been caused by short circuits that result in uncontrolled currents. The cells reach temperatures of around 100°C in this situation.
Short circuits are caused by poor cell quality and sloppy battery design, and a lack of a competent battery management system is a circumstance in which cells are not effectively maintained with the necessary sensing and software technologies.
This increase in temperature has an impact on the battery's life and performance, but it does not result in an EV fire. It takes 100 degrees Celsius for a lithium-ion battery to catch fire. This is impossible to achieve using environmental heat or heat generated by an operational battery.
For the battery cell to reach the temperature that produces fire, there must be a short circuit. Many of the EVs that caught fire used NMC battery chemistry, which is more temperature sensitive. To use a more temperature-sensitive battery, no design precautions were made at the battery pack level to ensure that it is thermally cooled appropriately.
How to minimize the risk of EV fire?
a). Though government and manufacturers are scrutinizing the problem and surely within months a resolution will be provided. However, as of now, EV holders can take certain precautionary measures to avoid short circuits and dangerous casualties.
b). The li-ion cells in the battery stay hot for some time even after the EV stops operating, therefore don't charge the EV batteries right after it stops running. Charge only after the battery cools down.
c). Only use the battery and charging cable that is specifically suited for the vehicle. Using a less expensive local battery may cause damage to the electric vehicle.
d). If it's a detachable battery, then remove it from the hot vehicle and keep it in a well-ventilated area, but out of direct sunlight. Replace battery and charger only if they are compatible and are from the original manufacturer or an approved supplier.
AMO Mobility, a premium electric scooter and electric bike manufacturer, delivers environmentally friendly e scooters only after proper testing that minimizes risk of fire related incidents. Their products are giving competition to large players in the market. Their team of engineers, developers, and production bring the best 5 models of e scooty for you.
With the increasing incidents in India, the government is bound to take strict actions. The government announced that companies found negligent in their process will be penalized. However, in the age of the internet, misunderstanding can spread easily. Therefore, it is our job to do proper research about our vehicles and follow precautionary measures instead of just buying those derogatory and negative statements published on social media.
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