This week’s fun chemistry lesson.
People are beginning to discover a significant, new challenge in post-disaster recovery following a major storm.
Fire department officials across Southwest Florida are urging electric vehicle owners to take action after multiple EVs caught fire due to water damage from Hurricane Ian – a hazard costing emergency services precious time in recovery efforts.
“It’s just the allocation of resources that we have to put towards these fires,” North Collier Assistant Fire Chief James Hammond told FOX Business’ Madison Alworth in an appearance on “Varney & Co.” Friday. “And it just ties up resources a lot longer.”
A top Florida state official warned Thursday that firefighters have battled a number of fires caused by electric vehicle (EV) batteries waterlogged from Hurricane Ian.
EV batteries that have been waterlogged in the wake of the hurricane are at risk of corrosion, which could lead to unexpected fires, according to Jimmy Patronis, the state’s top financial officer and fire marshal.
The batteries in electric vehicles are lithium-ion (using lithium compounds rather than pure lithium metal). Once a EV-battery fire ignites, it is very hard to extinguish.
Once alight, lithium-ion battery fires are very hard to extinguish. Common fire suppressants don’t work and the fire can burn very fiercely. In some circumstances, the battery can explode.
“If you have a problem with one cell, it’s going to start spreading,” says Magrabi.
This unstoppable fire is called “thermal runaway” which is carefully explained in this video from emergency responder training company evfiresafe.com.
Then, as Florida’s fire fighters discovered, other materials in the car ignite to generate toxic substances.
[Broward Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue Hazmat Strike team] responded to Friday morning’s fire and say the cause was actually interior atmospheric monitoring which found elevated carbon monoxide levels, and hydrogen cyanide levels, along with multiple batteries with high heat signatures.
The batteries were removed from the structure and discarded properly, at a hazardous materials waste site.
So much for “clean, green-energy.”
Lithium batteries, as well as their cousin lithium-ion batteries, are used as a power source for a wide array of electronics and equipment. Fires involving these batteries are becoming more common as more devices contain them. The following video shows examples of fires which have occurred in a range of devices from mobile phones to electric vehicles.
Lithium battery fires associated with electric vehicles expose the responders to numerous hazards and are ideally handled by crews with extensive hazardous materials training. The resources utilized by one EV battery file can be enormous.
Electric vehicle fires can take as much as 10 times the amount of water to extinguish, and fire departments have been playing catch-up as EVs become more popular.
The lithium-ion batteries can be susceptible to “thermal runaway,” which is an uncontrollable self-heating type of fire that takes more water to extinguish.
The emergency response guide for the Tesla Model S states it could take between 3,000 and 8,000 gallons of water to put out a fire.
Gas-powered car fires need less than 1,000 gallons of water, NewsNation reported earlier this summer.
It is essential people make fully-informed decisions when purchasing equipment with hazardous material components. Unfortunately, mention of the risks of lithium-ion battery fires is rare in the glossy promotion associated with green energy.DONATE
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