The Lithium-Ion Danger
In recent weeks, I often wrote about electric mobility and its value for a sustainable development. Undoubtedly, this is also one of the key technologies which will shape and determine our future, but despite all the euphoria we must not forget to take a critical look at it. Today, therefore, I would like to focus on one of the dangers of electric vehicles.
We all know the videos of mobile phones that ignite during charging and go up in flames. The energy released is so strong that an entire apartment can be destroyed within a very short time. In most cases, this is caused by a malfunction in the lithium-ion battery.
Exactly such batteries also drive the electric vehicles, yet these are not only larger, but also installed in bigger quantities in the cars of tomorrow. The batteries are normally embedded in the floor of the vehicles in blocks. If one cell is ignited, a chain reaction quickly sets in, which is very difficult to stop.
Flood It, Don’t Extinguish It!
Not only in case of a malfunction but also in the event of an accident the batteries of an electric vehicle can catch fire. A special feature is that the accumulator starts to burn off automatically after only a few moments above a critical ignition temperature. Due to the high heat development as a result of such a fire, salvage and extinguishment is extremely difficult. However, a large amount of water is required because not only the fire itself has to be extinguished, but also the accumulator has to be cooled down until it reaches a temperature below the critical ignition point.
If a lithium-ion battery catches fire once, the source of the fire must be cooled by an enormous amount of water. The batteries cause one big difficulty when it comes to cooling them: since they are so well encapsulated the water cannot be brought close enough to the cells to achieve a sufficient cooling effect; the emergency services on our roads will also have to face this problem. The solution is to flood the vehicle in a special container rather than simply extinguishing it by conventional means.
The German company Ellermann Eurocon GmbH has developed a fire container, the Red Boxx, especially for the recovery of hybrid and electric vehicles. Since 2017, the company has held several patents on the 23 square metre bathtub, which can be tilted to three sides. If required, the Red Boxx can even retract the cars independently. Some fire brigades, but also vehicle manufacturers, already have this innovation, which costs between 25K and 50K Euros, depending on the model.
How does it work exactly? See for yourself here.