Some good news from the world of science: Researchers make discovery that could lead to safer lithium-metal batteries.
Tugboats finally towed a cargo ship that burned for a week on the North Sea while carrying thousands of cars, nearly 500 of which were reported to be electric vehicles (EVs), into a Dutch port for salvaging, allaying fears that it could sink and impact shipping lanes.
The Fremantle Highway was taken to the northern port of Eemshaven, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management said. A boat that has special booms to clean up oil spills accompanied the nearly 200-meter-long (around 650-foot-long) vessel as a precaution.
The ship with 3,784 new vehicles, including 498 electric ones, on board caught fire on July 25 while traveling from the German port city of Bremerhaven to Singapore.
Much of the gray paint on the ship’s sides was gone, apparently scorched off by the heat inside the ship when the fire was raging.
…Much of the gray paint on the ship’s sides was gone, apparently scorched off by the heat inside the ship when the fire was raging.
There appears to be some clues as to what potentially started the fire. Not only is the intense, paint-scorching heat suggestive of a lithium-ion battery fire, but ship transmissions indicated a car battery in one of the EVs was the cause.
The Dutch coast guard said Thursday that the cause of the fire was unclear and that only about 25 of the vehicles on the ship were EVs, but in the audio of an emergency call released by Dutch broadcaster RTL, someone can be heard saying “the fire started in the battery of an electric car.”
Most electric vehicles nowadays use lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion battery fires are causing problems a little closer to home, too. Tampa, Florida officials are asking residents not to improperly dispose of lithium-ion batteries after a rash of fires in garbage trucks.
The city released a video of one of the fires, which occurred on June 30 on West Azeele Street. The video shows a pile of garbage dumped in the middle of the street, smoldering until it was almost engulfed in flames.
Firefighters believe an improperly disposed lithium-ion battery caused it.
“Every day, our drivers are showing up, sunup and sundown, to do collection, keeping our city safe and clean,” said solid waste superintendent Latrice Underwood.
This year, the city has seen three fires caused by lithium-ion batteries, compared to two last year.
Officials believe a lithium ion battery on a lawnmower may be the cause of a fire in San Antonio, Texas.
Residents of the home woke up to the smell of smoke. Someone opened up the garage door and saw the smoke.
This is the second fire SAFD has responded to this week for a fire caused by lithium-ion batteries, officials say.
Firefighters cut a hole in the outer garage door and were able to extinguish the fire quickly.
Thankfully, the damage was minimal and did not spread into the attic or house. Just a small area in the garage was damaged.
Everyone inside the home made it out safely and there were no injuries.
In some good news from the world of science, researchers have made a discovery that could lead to better lithium-metal batteries, as opposed to lithium-ion batteries, while reducing their risk of explosion. Their findings suggest that by controlling the shape of the lithium it would be possible to create more explosion-resistant batteries than the lithium-ion batteries like the ones in the above stories.
Researchers with the California NanoSystems Institute at University of California Los Angeles have developed a method for laying down the lithium metal faster than it can corrode — allowing them to see the shape the metal’s atoms organize into for the first time.
“There are thousands of papers on lithium metal, and most descriptions of the structure is qualitative, such as ‘chunky’ or ‘column-like,'” said Yuzhang Li, the study’s corresponding author, in a news release.
“It was surprising for us to discover that when we prevented surface corrosion, instead of these ill-defined shapes, we saw a singular polyhedron that matches theoretical predictions based on the metal’s crystal structure. Ultimately, this study allows us to revise how we understand lithium-metal batteries.”
The researchers said that scientists armed with the understanding of the true shape of lithium, described as “a 12-sided figure similar to the dice used in role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons,” can lower the risk of explosion by laying down the atoms in an orderly form.
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