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Carbon82

Are We Ready for Electric Car, Safety & Environmental Aspect

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While many auto manufacturers are gearing up for the next wave of automotive revolution, to produce more electric cars (including PHV - Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle) in-lieu of gasoline / diesel powered vehicles, are buyers and local government agencies (e.g. LTA, NEA, SCDF, BCA, etc.) ready for this big wave, and I am not merely referring to the basic infrastructure concerns, such as charging and servicing facilities.

 

As the title suggested, this thread is more for taking an in-depth view on Safety and Environmental concerns, with regards to sales, usage, servicing and disposal of electric cars (mainly with the batteries). For a start, I will just be touching on the following, while more topics will be added in due course. I would welcome all to share their thoughts, and relevant stakeholders to take a leaf out of this topic.  

 

1. Batteries

 

At the moment, there are 2 main type of batteries commonly used in electric / hybrid vehicles:

i) Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)

ii) Lithium Ion (Li-ion), which uses different cathode materials such as Cobalt Dioxide, Nickel-cobalt-manganese, Nickel-cobalt-aluminum, Manganese oxide spinel & Iron phosphate.

 

NiMH is most widely used in automotive industries as it is relatively safe in term of raw materials use, during charging / discharging, and emit less harmful substances during a fire, BUT have a lower power density (typically about half of what Li-ion can do), meaning it will either have a shorter traveling distance, or take up much more usable space (and weigh more) if to maintain a certain mileage.

 

Li-ion, on the other hand, while enable electric cars to cover hundreds of miles per charge (without taking too much boot or cabin space), are much more hazardous, in the way that it can have a run-away reaction (resulting in fire / explosion) when exceeded a certain operating / storage temperature (~60 °C), emit toxic gases and substance during a fire, so more awareness and precaution is needed.

 

Due to the characteristics of these batteries, special considerations have to be taken during storage, handling and usage, such as proper ventilation (to prevent gas built up - Oxygen, Hydrogen, etc.), minimized risk of dropping / knocking (Li-ion batteries maybe be rendered unsafe if dropped or subjected to sever impact), means of safety cut-off (to prevent over heating, triggering run away reaction) and such.

 

 

2. Building Infrastructure

 

With reference to the above, special facilities (with precise temperature monitoring and control, enhanced ventilation system, specific fire-fighting system and equipment) maybe required for storing large amount of batteries. Mixed occupancy, i.e. storage and workshop facilities under the same roof, have to be carefully evaluated, to identify incompatible activities, e.g. workshop may produce excessive heat / spark (ignition source) thereby increasing the risk of fire / explosion.

 

Also, is the existing fire compartmentation for building (fire code, regulations) sufficient to contain battery fire? Li-ion batteries for example will continue to burn once it hit the auto-ignition temperature, and the only control is to cool the surrounding to prevent fire from spreading to neighboring premises / units.

 

In the case of an electric vehicle fire within say a basement car park, building structure must be able to withstand the period of time when the batteries continue to burn, ventilation system to be able to effectively remove toxic gases produced, such as CO, Ni & Li vapor, and means of cooling provided to contain the fire.

 

 

3. Fire Fighting and Emergency Response

 

Interestingly, the most commonly used dry power extinguisher is NOT going to work on Li-ion batteries. Beside using cat D extinguisher - for metal fire (which is not commonly available anywhere), the next best option is water, mainly to cool down the surrounding and lower the battery temperature (to prevent explosion).

 

And for fireman, the protocol is to attempt fighting the fire ONLY WITH proper respiratory protection - full breathing apparatus (prevent inhalation of toxic gases / vapors).  If you thing this is no big difference from other fire fighting attempts, you are wrong. Fireman will also have to adopt the proper procedure.

 

One important step is to cut off the power supply to the vehicle. Tesla has done pretty well in detailing the steps to fight fire on it vehicles (through publishing Emergency Response Guides for vehicles in their lineup). And hopefully our fireman from SCDF, when deployed to handle such electric car fire, will be fully aware of these steps...

 

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And here is a video taken recently, when a team of firefighters in Austria was responding to a Tesla Model S on fire.

 

 

Firefighters with full BA set (breathing apparatus)

PKW-Brand_Elektrofahrzeug13.jpg

 

Firefighters accessing to power disconnection switch

PKW-Brand_Elektrofahrzeug14.jpg

 

And the responsible shall be shared by the owner of electric car too. They have to be fully aware of what to do when their vehicle catch fire, and keeping the fireman informed of the key information, e.g. location of power cut off switch, battery packs, etc.

 

 

4. Servicing and Disposal of Batteries

 

The onus shall be mainly on the workshop and dealer performing the job (provided the owner send their electric cars to the right place for the job). Beside safety concerns with the high voltage of the electrical system, proper charging and discharging process must be observed during replacement. For example, if the positive and negative terminals of the battery come into contact, short circuit will arise, followed by fire.

 

On environmental front, proper supply chain has to be established, to ensure that the used batteries will be disposed in accordance to local and international standards and guidelines. And during the treatment process, again, the toxic material and gases have to be properly taken care of.

 

T.B.C.

Edited by Carbon82
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As scary as Li-Ion powered cars may sound, I believe it will be a matter of time before it becomes as safe as petrol.version.

 

Think about it. How many of us even stop to think how dangerous it is to have so much petrol in a confined area such as basement carparks?

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As scary as Li-Ion powered cars may sound, I believe it will be a matter of time before it becomes as safe as petrol.version.

 

Think about it. How many of us even stop to think how dangerous it is to have so much petrol in a confined area such as basement carparks?

 

They key differences between Petrol & Batteries is that the former would be much safer when we switch off the engine, while if the battery has reaches the thermal runaway temperature, it may just explode and burst into flame after you have parked your car and walk away, thinking that everything are safe!

 

Also, explosion with burning battery can send hot / burning debris flying around, igniting combustible material within it vicinity, whereas petrol would normally just burn by itself (unless the vapour within the containment raise to an explosive level).

 

The following videos shall give you an idea how dangerous is Li-ion batteries. In my course of work, I ever dealt with Li-ion batteries fire (controlled environment), and controlling it is indeed challenging, as it will continue to burn as long as the heat is there. And water is the best extinguishing media I would say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for your information, even an impact may cause Li-ion battery to explode and burst into flame, something less likely to occur with petrol powered vehicle.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Carbon82
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In my first post, I mentioned about fire safety concerns with battery storage. Here are a few video clips to demonstrate what will happen when fire started in the warehouse...

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, the larger the battery, the faster it burn, and my question is, will most building structure able to withstand such large scale and fast spreading fire?

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great initiative bro! As you have mentioned, the most important thing is to create awareness of such potential dangers to car dealers, owners, and government agencies so that everyone knows what to do in case of emergency. 

 

With the government taking the initiative to roll out the electric car sharing scheme in 2018, hopefully adequate steps and measures will be put in place before something disastrous happens. Since the technology is from France, SG can learn from the experiences there and other cities where this electric cars are already deployed for use. Apparently, Bollore's electric cars use LMP (Lithium Metal Polymer) battery which "gives them a very high level of range and safety". 

 

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-s-first-electric-car-sharing-programme-to-launch-in-9254156

 

https://www.lta.gov.sg/apps/news/page.aspx?c=2&id=48509d3b-e74d-459b-b84e-5c1b79db4c76

 

The current low numbers of cars using Li-ion batteries in SG and the low likelihood of fire may not persuade FSSD to review their Fire Codes, and for SCDF to conduct special training for such cases. 

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Actually you should ask if the garment is ready to make money out of this new vehicle technology.

 

The rest doesn't matter to them.

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@kdash, I prefer the authorities to think and plan ahead, since it is the matter of time sales of electric vehicle will exceed that of conventional gasoline / diesel driven unit. And many of the infrastructure improvement cannot happen over a short 1 - 2 years time frame, and the more it should be look into earlier.

 

Case in point, assuming that to limit the scale and spread of fire, batteries may have to be stored in smaller quantity per pallet / storage rack / warehouse, or additional compartmentation to be made mandatory, just like what FSSD / SCDF did with storage of petroleum and flammable materials, specifying the max quantity allowed per tank, by floor area, etc.

 

Also, existing Fire Code and Code of Practice for Automatic Fire Sprinkler System maybe revisited to ensure that sufficient protection and fire fighting means has been put in-place at facilities used for servicing, storage and disposal of vehicle batteries, such as having min of EHH (Extra High Hazard) sprinkler system, or even deluge system for battery storage and disposal facilities.

 

BCA (Buildig Control Authority) has already taken the lead, requiring developer to provide charging points for EV, as one of the qualifying criteria for Building Green Mark Award, so I don't see why the other government agencies need to wait any further.

Edited by Carbon82
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Actually you should ask if the garment is ready to make money out of this new vehicle technology.

 

The rest doesn't matter to them.

 

Sadly, the way I look at it is that $$$ is still the key concerns with the current government, as existing policies do not encourage the adoption of EVs.

 

Level the playing field for adopters of electric vehicles in Singapore

Edited by Carbon82
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@kdash, I prefer the authorities to think and plan ahead, since it is the matter of time sales of electric vehicle will exceed that of conventional gasoline / diesel driven unit. And many of the infrastructure improvement cannot happen over a short 1 - 2 years time frame, and the more it should be look into earlier.

 

Case in point, assuming that to limit the scale and spread of fire, batteries may have to be stored in smaller quantity per pallet / storage rack / warehouse, or additional compartmentation to be made mandatory, just like what FSSD / SCDF did with storage of petroleum and flammable materials, specifying the max quantity allowed per tank, by floor area, etc.

 

Also, existing Fire Code and Code of Practice for Automatic Fire Sprinkler System maybe revisited to ensure that sufficient protection and fire fighting means has been put in-place at facilities used for servicing, storage and disposal of vehicle batteries, such as having min of EHH (Extra High Hazard) sprinkler system, or even deluge system for battery storage and disposal facilities.

 

BCA (Buildig Control Authority) has already taken the lead, requiring developer to provide charging points for EV, as one of the qualifying criteria for Building Green Mark Award, so I don't see why the other government agencies need to wait any further.

 

Agreed. As per my previous post, since the Government is taking steps to encourage low-carbon or zero-carbon emissions vehicles in a bid to have a "car-lite" SG, they need to concurrently improve the existing infrastructure to cater for the anticipated big wave of electric cars and PHVs in the near future. This is in light of the government-initiated electric car sharing scheme and also the new batch of diesel hybrid buses being procured by LTA

 

The existing Fire Code and CP should be relooked into and improved where necessary to ensure safety. 

 

Kudos to BCA for taking the lead to update their BCA Green Mark criteria to include charging points. Many of the newer shopping centres and commercial buildings already have dedicated carpark lots with charging points, and some older buildings have also be retrofitted with these lots. 

 

On a side note, nice to know a 内行。。。

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Sadly, the way I look at it is that $$$ is still the key concerns with the current government, as existing policies do not encourage the adoption of EVs.

 

Level the playing field for adopters of electric vehicles in Singapore

 

one way to encourage buying of hybrid and EVs is to reduce tax/COE cost, make people think twice about buying fully petrol cars. but if infra not there, then point moot. similar to the CNG cars which in the end did not get the support from the government. and since government concerned abt $$$, then not going to happen. 

 

or maybe to allocate some COE quota to EVs (Cat F or something)? 

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The garment here only cares about tax tax tax.. since when they give a damn about environment?

 

one way to encourage buying of hybrid and EVs is to reduce tax/COE cost, make people think twice about buying fully petrol cars. but if infra not there, then point moot. similar to the CNG cars which in the end did not get the support from the government. and since government concerned abt $$$, then not going to happen. 

 

or maybe to allocate some COE quota to EVs (Cat F or something)? 

 

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Which substances do you think will burn quicker? Petrol or li-ion? You already shown the video above it take quite a while before the heat build up inside the battery pack before it give up.

 

Petrol ICE car burn very very quickly when it caught fire. And in Singapore ICE car caught fire all the time.

 

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/car-catches-fire-along-lornie-road-causing-traffic-congestion

 

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/car-catches-fire-near-changi-airport-5-injured-9058914

 

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/car-catches-fire-in-cte-tunnel-causing-havelock-road-exit-to-9117858

 

The list go on and on......

 

How many EV caught fire in Singapore? So far none of the BDY e6 taxis, BMW i3, BMW i8, etc caught fire or burn to ash.

 

So there you go an EV is 1000% safer than an ICE car.

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Also the video showing the Tesla caught fire is start from the front of the car and the main battery pack only start from the front passenger footwell. So the li-on battery pack is not the cause of the fire.

 

It probably cause by the normal acid lead 12v battery in the front of the car.

Want-to-know-what-it-really-looks-like-u

 

 

 

And here is a video taken recently, when a team of firefighters in Austria was responding to a Tesla Model S on fire.

 

 

Firefighters with full BA set (breathing apparatus)

PKW-Brand_Elektrofahrzeug13.jpg

 

Firefighters accessing to power disconnection switch

PKW-Brand_Elektrofahrzeug14.jpg

 

 

 

 

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They key differences between Petrol & Batteries is that the former would be much safer when we switch off the engine, while if the battery has reaches the thermal runaway temperature, it may just explode and burst into flame after you have parked your car and walk away, thinking that everything are safe!

 

Also, explosion with burning battery can send hot / burning debris flying around, igniting combustible material within it vicinity, whereas petrol would normally just burn by itself (unless the vapour within the containment raise to an explosive level).

 

The following videos shall give you an idea how dangerous is Li-ion batteries. In my course of work, I ever dealt with Li-ion batteries fire (controlled environment), and controlling it is indeed challenging, as it will continue to burn as long as the heat is there. And water is the best extinguishing media I would say.

 

And for your information, even an impact may cause Li-ion battery to explode and burst into flame, something less likely to occur with petrol powered vehicle.

 

I did not dispute the fact that Li-Ion batteries are dangerous. In fact, this is the reason I limit my powerbank capacity to 10400 mAh.

 

All I am saying is technology will overcome all the shortfalls of Li-Ion, just like how technology managed to make petrol driven cars safe from the danger or petrol itself.

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The ultimate question is whether the government ready to lost the gasoline taxes/duty. Not safety. If they concern about safety they wouldn't allow all these new BMW iPerformance models coming in.

 

To implement Singapore to be a EV mobility city can be done in less than 2 years to set up the infrastructure. It's all down to the policy maker how much money they willing to lose on tax revenue.

 

Shell already starting to install EV charger in their station.

http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/868053/Shell-UK-garage-electric-car-charger

 

Even our closest neighbour already started installing EV charger in Petronas stations.

http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/03/10/charge-your-ev-at-petronas-petronas-aims-to-set-up-66-charging-stations/

 

Singapore is 5 years behind this new technology.


I did not dispute the fact that Li-Ion batteries are dangerous. In fact, this is the reason I limit my powerbank capacity to 10400 mAh.

 

All I am saying is technology will overcome all the shortfalls of Li-Ion, just like how technology managed to make petrol driven cars safe from the danger or petrol itself.

 

Again petrol is more dangerous than li-ion battery.

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Which substances do you think will burn quicker? Petrol or li-ion? You already shown the video above it take quite a while before the heat build up inside the battery pack before it give up.

 

Petrol ICE car burn very very quickly when it caught fire. And in Singapore ICE car caught fire all the time.

 

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/car-catches-fire-along-lornie-road-causing-traffic-congestion

 

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/car-catches-fire-near-changi-airport-5-injured-9058914

 

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/car-catches-fire-in-cte-tunnel-causing-havelock-road-exit-to-9117858

 

The list go on and on......

 

How many EV caught fire in Singapore? So far none of the BDY e6 taxis, BMW i3, BMW i8, etc caught fire or burn to ash.

 

So there you go an EV is 1000% safer than an ICE car.

 

Also the video showing the Tesla caught fire is start from the front of the car and the main battery pack only start from the front passenger footwell. So the li-on battery pack is not the cause of the fire.

 

It probably cause by the normal acid lead 12v battery in the front of the car.

Want-to-know-what-it-really-looks-like-u

 

You missed my key point / concerns with Li-ion batteries. It is not about Li-ion or petrol burn faster, but the differences in characteristics when it burn, or for the fact of matter, how a fire started. For petrol, it need heat or spark to ignite the vapour, whereas for Li-ion, a simple impact on the battery body or high battery temperature (caused by over charging / discharging) may start a fire, and that include when the vehicle is stationary / having it engine shut off (heat may still built up to the thermal runaway temperature of ~60 deg C), something less likely to happen with petrol / diesel operated vehicle.

 

With regards to your accident statistics, even with say 1 reported case per month, the % of petrol / diesel vehicle fire is still far less than 0.01%, whereas there has been a few cases of Tesla fire reported (the cause of fire is not important, and I will explain why is it so in the next paragraph), and probably that already amount to >0.01% of EV populations (in US).

 

OK, you are perfectly right to point out that the cause of the Tesla fire I posted earlier, which was caused by an accident, resulting in the front part of the car catching fire first (NOT battery pack). BUT, if the fire is not put under control fast enough (and in an appropriate manner / correct procedure), once it spread to the battery pack, there is no way to extinguish it, as Li-ion will continue to burn by itself due to the heat produce and at the same time "shooting" hot debris to the surrounding, increasing the likelihood of further spread of fire.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the only way to bring battery fire under control is to continue cooling the battery, in attempt to lower the temp to <60 deg C, which is practically impossible, and that led me to prompt the authority to look into fire protection system needed for storage facilities, for example, can the existing sprinkler system continue to provide large amount of water to cool the burning batteries, for many hours or even >1 day?

 

Please don't get me wrong, I am not saying EV is any less safer than petrol / diesel vehicle, but the extra precaution and awareness to these extra hazard cannot be ignored. The same goes for emergency response effort say by our SCDF or voluntary groups, as using the incorrect method may ended up with more damage and/or causalities. [speechless]

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I did not dispute the fact that Li-Ion batteries are dangerous. In fact, this is the reason I limit my powerbank capacity to 10400 mAh.

 

All I am saying is technology will overcome all the shortfalls of Li-Ion, just like how technology managed to make petrol driven cars safe from the danger or petrol itself.

 

wow 10400 mAh is still quite high... 2-3 full charges? of course nothing compared to those who carry around powerbanks which can charge laptops. 

 

actually many products we use around us are already using Li-ion batts, eg. laptops and phones. 

 

agreed that eventually technology will overcome the safety issues of Li-ion batt, but may not be fast enough to cater to the current large-scale usage in EVs. 

As I mentioned earlier, the only way to bring battery fire under control is to continue cooling the battery, in attempt to lower the temp to <60 deg C, which is practically impossible, and that led me to prompt the authority to look into fire protection system needed for storage facilities, for example, can the existing sprinkler system continue to provide large amount of water to cool the burning batteries, for many hours or even >1 day?

 

Please don't get me wrong, I am not saying EV is any less safer than petrol / diesel vehicle, but the extra precaution and awareness to these extra hazard cannot be ignored. The same goes for emergency response effort say by our SCDF or voluntary groups, as using the incorrect method may ended up with more damage and/or causalities. [speechless]

 

i believe this can be done by specialised training to the SCDF personnel, similar to emergency response for chemical fires or toxic gases in Jurong Island. 

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