You should know this if you own an EV. Foam or water can't douse lithium fire

Using water actually increases the intensity of a lithium-ion battery fire.
By : HT Auto Desk
| Updated on: 12 Apr 2022, 04:20 PM
Several EV fire incidents have been reported in recent times. (HT_PRINT)
Several EV fire incidents have been reported in recent times. (HT_PRINT)
Several EV fire incidents have been reported in recent times. (HT_PRINT)
Several EV fire incidents have been reported in recent times.

In recent times, several electric vehicle fire incidents have been reported, with one of them even causing the death of two people. This series of EV fire incidents have dampened the sentiment of consumers to some extent. Some of the customers have even decided to change their decisions to buy EVS as well. While internal combustion engine vehicles are prone to fire risks, electric vehicles with lithium-ion battery packs too are prone to fire, but the chance is significantly lesser.

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(Also read: 20 electric scooters burn in fiery flames in yet another EV fire incident)

However, the types of fire for ICE vehicles and electric vehicles are very different. While ICE vehicles use petrol or diesel fuels, which are highly flammable, lithium is not that flammable. However, thermal inefficiency can cause a chemical reaction inside the battery cells, which could result in a fire with a high-intensity temperature. Hence, dousing the lithium-ion battery fire is much tougher compared to petrol or diesel.

Using foam or a large volume of water can put out petrol or diesel vehicle fire. But, the case is completely different for electric vehicles. With such high-intensity temperature generation, lithium-ion battery fire is not possible to be doused by conventional fire extinguishers. Lithium-ion battery fires don't respond to traditional fire extinguishers or foam or even water as well.

Despite their name, lithium-ion batteries do not contain any lithium metal. Hence, a Class D fire extinguisher is not effective to fight a lithium-ion battery fire. These fire extinguishers contain dry powder and are intended for combustible metal fires only.

Water too is not useful to douse lithium-ion battery fires as throwing water on a lithium-ion battery that is on fire reduces lithium in the electrolyte. This results in the release of hydrogen gas, which is highly flammable. Hence, throwing water at an EV fire increases the intensity of the flame further instead of putting it out.

First Published Date: 12 Apr 2022, 04:20 PM IST
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