11 tons of water to put out tesla fire!

alpg88

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it is a nasty fire, you got 300+ volt battery on fire, that is an electrical fire, you got combustible metal fire, and you got nasty toxic smoke, lots of it. maybe they need to fill the battery with fire suppressing powder at the factory.
 

snakebite

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worse yet the whole mess is in a big sealed can that prevents any meaningful amount of water from getting to the actual fire.
if these had a fire port where a hose could be fired into the enclosure one could cool it off and bring it under control.

it is a nasty fire, you got 300+ volt battery on fire, that is an electrical fire, you got combustible metal fire, and you got nasty toxic smoke, lots of it. maybe they need to fill the battery with fire suppressing powder at the factory.
 

vadimax

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I guess you miss one point: in case of an ICE vehicle fire if you notice it starting you grab a fire extinguisher and eliminate the problem. In electric vehicle you better run for your life because you physically can do absolutely nothing to stop thermal runaway of a lithium battery.

The mentioned amount of water is needed not to stop the fire directly, but to cool the battery off so it stopped emitting flammable gases and OXIGEN.
 
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Monocrom

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After several years and probably to a million or more EV's on the road, we know they're no more hazardous than liquid-fueled cars, which burn up all the time without fanfare because it's a perfectly ordinary fire incident.

Let's be honest, EVs were never as popular before Teslas came along. GM completely scraped their Lease-Only model. Toyota mostly sold their early EV RAV4s to industrial plants, where they were a miserable failure. As I well know from personal experience. Nothing like charging one up literally all night, taking it out; and then having it completely die on you! Literally every part of the vehicle. I'll even name names. Giant Con-Ed complex in Astoria NY. Along with the much smaller New York Power Authority (NYPA), literally next door on the same huge plot of land.

There's a reason why they switched over to Toyota Prius hybrid sedans as company transportation vehicles. Much more reliable. Though I will give credit where its due, neither one of those EV models ever earned a well-known reputation for just.... well, it's CPF. Let's put it in terms we can all understand when it comes to certain types of rechargeable batteries. Those two usually didn't violently vent with flame, releasing toxic gases. And I'm sorry, but yes; there is a difference with gasoline-powered vehicles. You park one of those in good running condition, leave it alone, it's not going to spontaneously combust.


They also need special extinguishers for dealing with industrial fires where there's apt to be more burning than just class A, B, C compounds.

As a licensed Fire Guard, yes; there are already different types of extinguishers. All needed to put out different types of fires. Here's the thing though, industrial buildings are necessary. They create what society genuinely NEEDS. I just don't see the need to allocate more tax-payer dollars in order to greatly increase the supply of such extinguishers simply to put out death-traps driven by individuals with a horribly desperate need to look cool, trendy, or hip while at the same time pretending to show others that they care about the environment.
 

alpg88

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yea, that is what people used to say about gasoline cars at first, in the end of steam cars era.
 

archimedes

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Some drift in threads like these is inevitable, which is part of the reason why OP "link-only" posts are discouraged.

This thread is currently in the Batteries forum, however, so keeping discussion focused here on the technical aspects of battery fires would be appreciated.

If broader issues are of more interest instead, it could be moved to The Cafe, upon OP request. Thanks.
 

P_A_S_1

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The problem with ev is the battery technology just isn't there yet. This is why they're all working on a better battery chemistry. Bundling more batteries into a smaller footprint to achieve greater range hits the wall quick and the incremental capacity improvements to the batteries themselves are insufficient. My phone can't make it the whole day without needing a charge so I'd be reluctant to have faith in a ev getting me anywhere far. The safety aspect is real but overblown imo, sitting on a tank of gasoline and zipping down the highway has its risks too but we're use to it. In the latter, years of safety protocols and engineering minimized the danger and ev will follow suit. Price aside I wouldn't consider buying a current ev and it's not the safety aspect of the battery. They just not ready for prime time, maybe tomorrow.
 

idleprocess

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Let's be honest, EVs were never as popular before Teslas came along. GM completely scraped their Lease-Only model. Toyota mostly sold their early EV RAV4s to industrial plants, where they were a miserable failure. As I well know from personal experience. Nothing like charging one up literally all night, taking it out; and then having it completely die on you! Literally every part of the vehicle. I'll even name names. Giant Con-Ed complex in Astoria NY. Along with the much smaller New York Power Authority (NYPA), literally next door on the same huge plot of land.
Before Tesla, BEVs were compliance vehicles, grudgingly produced to meet a mandate that the industry's lobbyists worked overtime to steadily water down to the point that in many states they could give them to employees to drive or lease them to .gov agencies for a pittance. The fact that the first-generation RAV4EVs were sold at all once the leases ended was of itself surprising given their blah reception and the relatively short lifespans of their battery packs.

There's a reason why they switched over to Toyota Prius hybrid sedans as company transportation vehicles. Much more reliable.
As the experiments of ~20 years ago with lead-acid and then NiMH demonstrated, those chemistries lacked the energy density - and oftentimes the power density - to perform adequately. There wasn't much of a future in lead-acid or even NiMH-powered vehicles that struggled to hit daily commuting range plus normal contingencies with margin to spare for bad conditions or unusual contingencies. The more complete the discharge, the more of a cycle you get against cell lifetime than shallower discharges.

Hybrids on the other hand offered better economy by sizing the engine closer to average demand, buffering output to meet the brief peak demands of normal driving, something that NiMH was quite sufficient for without steep discharges to the point that NiMH hybrid packs routinely outlasted their warranties without degradation - some by multiples.

It's no coincidence overprovisioning Li-Ion battery packs in modern BEVs is likely why they're seeing far better lifespans with less degradation than lead-acid and NiMH packs ever did.

And I'm sorry, but yes; there is a difference with gasoline-powered vehicles. You park one of those in good running condition, leave it alone, it's not going to spontaneously combust.
Ah, but it happens. It is indeed rare. But unlike whenever a BEV does so it's not news since ICE vehicles aren't particularly novel.

industrial buildings are necessary
So is individual transportation, and with it the externalities imposed on society whenever there's an incident such as a vehicular accident causing property damage, injury, death, and anything else that necessitates the activation of emergency services. Suspect that dealing with BEV fires - and particular costs - is a drop in the bucket relative to the costs of responding to vehicle fires in general. If you really want to go into the weeds, I imagine that the increasing use of carbon fiber and aluminum in cars has also presented challenges and hazards to fire-rescue that we're not clutching pearls over.

to put out death-traps driven by individuals
[yawn] Cite something to back that assertion. I'd suggest that rather than pointing out that people have - died in electric vehicles, they have crashed, they have caught fire - you find verifiable data pointing to a higher incident rate than ICE vehicles. However, I suspect you're not going to find this information since storing li-ion cells in a pack managed by far better charging systems than even a high-grade hobby charger is only similarly dangerous to storing volatile liquid fuel in a vehicle's fuel tank.

with a horribly desperate need to look cool
Image drives the automobile market in nearly all segments to the point of near pathology - sports cars, trucks, crossovers, economy cars, even commercial vehicles. At some level behind a large percentage of automobile purchases is the thought what does this say about me? Our stereotypical self-described eco-conscious Tesla buyer is as much the poseur as someone weighing the purchase of a Camero, a Ram, a Flex, a base model Fit, or even a Metris.
 
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All of the arguments I've heard about why electric cars are bad, and the treatment towards electric car drivers, I got when I drove a propane powered vehicle, even though they had been on the road for a very long time. Its why many places have poorly thought out vehicle modification laws, as a knee jerk reaction to anything that might be dangerous, rather than actually assess real risk.

Sure as EVs become more common, vehicle fire fighting will adapt, just as vehicle extraction has changed with cars being better engineered for roll over protection, crumple zones etc. I've yet to hear someone complain that "you shouldn't buy SUV x because the pillars are so strong it will take the fire dept longer to cut you out of the car"

Like the move from steel to plastic fuel tanks, manufacturers will come up with methods of heat dumping, battery isolation. It might not work out practically in the math, but how many BTUs of heat could be dissipated by 20kg of CO2 in a venting heat exchanger? A system by which a constant flow of CO2 is vented around the battery pack? Just spitballing ideas, its probably not practical, but the point is that under certain circumstances there is always a way to design in an added fail-safe to manage an unexpected risk.
 

DoctorMemory

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Since lithium is a class B Fire is there a reason they used water?

For one thing, they had water. To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.:D

But seriously, you cannot "extinguish" a lithium or Li-ion cell fire with water. You can't smother it, take away oxygen. This isn't fuel, it is stored energy that is going to be released, perhaps 100KWH. Wouldn't matter if the battery was on the surface of the moon.

The second reason a firefighter uses water is to cool off fuel, and that is actually a good idea here. The problem likely was you drew a winning number in the Li-ion cell lottery and one of your cells caught fire. The fire will quickly spread to nearby cells, heating and popping them, and on. If you can put enough water on the unexploded cells, the heat of the fire will not pop them, the chain reaction will slow.

A Lithium fire would be Class D fire, but unlike primary cells (CR123A, etc.) there is no lithium metal in Li-ion (ask any meth cook). The primary fire is the electrolyte, which would be Class B, flammable liquid.
 

DoctorMemory

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It might not work out practically in the math, but how many BTUs of heat could be dissipated by 20kg of CO2 in a venting heat exchanger? A system by which a constant flow of CO2 is vented around the battery pack? Just spitballing ideas, its probably not practical, but the point is that under certain circumstances there is always a way to design in an added fail-safe to manage an unexpected risk.

A pack can put out 100,000 watts of power for a full hour. That would take an exceptional amount of CO2 to cool.

This is a real problem with stored energy vs. fuel. With fuel, a binary energy source that combines some fuel with air, just shut off the air. But when a pack wants to release all that energy you have two options. One, try to get it to not release all of it's energy. Option two -- run, as fast as you can, you aren't going to stop it.

I daydream about a pack that would use explosive bolts and divide itself up to 8 or 10 packs and scatter them.
 

markr6

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As long as they're capturing that water, hauling it by tanker, treating it, and hauling some more to use on organic gardens, I'm happy.
 

xxo

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As long as they're capturing that water, hauling it by tanker, treating it, and hauling some more to use on organic gardens, I'm happy.


With all of those toxic battery fire chemicals in the water, would their organic yucca, still be considered organic?
 

turbodog

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worse yet the whole mess is in a big sealed can that prevents any meaningful amount of water from getting to the actual fire.
if these had a fire port where a hose could be fired into the enclosure one could cool it off and bring it under control.

Or, with water hitting a high temp object with good thermal transfer, the water will turn to steam and rupture the whole pack, ejecting steam/water mix back onto the firefighters via the 'fire port'.
 

alpg88

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or fire dept will simply not able to hook to that port due to the car battery being on fire, with a risk of explosion at any second, on top of toxic fumes and smoke.
 
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