Image 01 Image 03

Cargo Ship Transporting Nearly 500 EVs Burns for a Week before Being Towed into Port

Cargo Ship Transporting Nearly 500 EVs Burns for a Week before Being Towed into Port

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.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.



Does lower risk of explosion mean lower risk of fire? In addition to the incidents mentioned in the article, we have the ocean freighter Felicity Ace sinking in Feb 2022 from EV fires that could not be put out and EV fires after Hurricane Ian in Florida when the batteries got wet. IMO, until this obvious hazard is fixed, putting an EV in an attached garage is asking for your home to be burned down.

It’s not the lithium that causes the severity of the fires, it’s the electrolyte. It is highly flammable and when decomposed by heat it releases oxygen which means you end up with the equivalent of a self-fueled blowtorch you can’t put out and that won’t stop until it consumes all of the fuel.

I’m thinking of a word … a very specific word…. and it sounds like phetaMore.

JohnSmith100 | August 6, 2023 at 3:31 pm

Being an electrical engineer, I was aware the potential for L-ion fires and have been charging on ceramic or stone tiles from the inception of their use.

About 20 years ago I had a lithium ion 40 whr battery catch on fire in my living room. I was sitting on a slate inlay table. I used a Tri class fire extinguisher to suppress the fire, then picked up the whole 2′ square table and rushed it out of the house.

Do not throw water on a lithium fire. $30,000 and months later I was able to move back into the house. Today I have close to a 60 K whr in a small enclosed trailer, 800 lbs of LiFePo4 batteries. They are in the trailer so that they can be dragged away in event of a fire.

Mkimd of reminds me of nuclear waste

Don’t really have an answer for either but people aren’t putting nuclear powered bikes in their apartments just to have them explode and burn down the complex, killing people

I hear tell they are cheap batteries people buy…

Poor ocean

    JohnSmith100 in reply to gonzotx. | August 6, 2023 at 4:00 pm

    I have a farm, batteries have risks similar to gas, diesel and fertilizer. We manage those risks.

      gonzotx in reply to JohnSmith100. | August 6, 2023 at 4:28 pm

      It you can put out fires that are diesel, gas, fertilizer

      Not so much lithium

      CommoChief in reply to JohnSmith100. | August 6, 2023 at 4:49 pm

      Yep. Risk mitigation is very possible. It doesn’t require much effort to things correctly and safely, just need a bit of self discipline and determination. Of course that presupposes that folks will do it. 2/3 + of US population is obese and 3/4 of Americans report not having $400 in savings for an emergency. That seems to indicate that as a general rule Americans lack self discipline.

      How many folks right now have paint and paint thinner in their garage? Gas powered lawn mower with a gas can in the garage? Gun oil or other lubricants. All in the same location as their power tools with either ni-cad or Li-Ion batteries? Maybe the odd box of ammo?

      The problem in multifamily housing is assuming the risk that your dumbass neighbor won’t improperly store whatever crap they have, especially a cheap ass electric bike or scooter.

“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.”
I expect he stayed well upwind the entire voyage.

Simple, but temporary fix; ship the batteries separately. If one wants to ship a privately owned car or motorcycle, one must first drain the oil and gas fluids from the car.

Gcaptain used to be a great site for all things maritime. The site was bought by globalists and now prints biased articles. But it’s worth a peek once in a while

    Tiki in reply to Tiki. | August 6, 2023 at 4:48 pm

    I want to add that fires aboard ordinary cargo ships happen more often than we might think or know about; uncommon, but not a rarity.

      alaskabob in reply to Tiki. | August 6, 2023 at 4:58 pm

      A recent one sank with hundreds of up$cale German cars…. MB, BMW and Porsche (two syllables.. thank you).

    MAJack in reply to Tiki. | August 6, 2023 at 7:20 pm

    Agree, GCaptain is a woke PC site.

E Howard Hunt | August 6, 2023 at 4:04 pm

A good start

Can’t wait to climb aboard a Li-ion powered heli-taxi soon coming to every big city

Three Mile Island burped, the Greenies lost their shit, and trashed an entire industry.

EVs cause holocaust after holocaust, and… crickets, because they’re green talismans.

The problem is not that greenies are maniacs… a certain percentage of the people will always crazy. The problem is that the government gives their bullshit any weight at all. They lick the boots of greenies, gun grabbers, and control freaks, while pretending that vax investigators, political corruption whistleblowers, and school parents are fringe loonies.

EV’s are fire hazards in car collisions, and, apparently, in other conditions, as well.

Add this attribute to the list of myriad reasons why EV’s are inferior to gas-powered vehicles, and why only a deep-pocketed, narcissistic, virtue-signaling coastal Dumb-o-crat would ever purchase one.

I’d hate to be the guy with lithium batteries in hearing aids or a pacemaker.

inspectorudy | August 6, 2023 at 9:21 pm

Has anyone stopped and thought about what climate-saving devices are causing our planet? Wind farms are killing thousands of protected birds every day and possibly whales offshore. The mining of the elements to make EVs and their batteries is raping the land. Not to mention the extra weight of small EV cars and their impact on parking garages and bridges. The potential destruction from fires has not been thoroughly looked into but poses a tremendous danger to large facilities where they may be stored or parked including private homes. Insurers have not made their concerns into policies but it is coming. Large solar parks are susceptible to hail as we just saw where acres of panels were destroyed by hail. The small flush toilet where it takes two flushes to do the job. The elimination of incandescent light bulbs last Tuesday where the heat from them is desired in many cases. The elimination of natural gas appliances. The stupid addition of Ethanol to gasoline where it actually takes more mixed fuel to do the same thing than just plain gas. Using edible food to make fuel products that are naturally available. And so much more of this fake save-the-planet crap.

    diver64 in reply to inspectorudy. | August 7, 2023 at 6:29 am

    I use an incandescent bulb on a timer in my well house to keep it from freezing. Now I’m going to have to switch to a heat lamp that will use much more electricity and cost me several times as much on my bill

Aren’t the scientists close to releasing a sodium battery? Seems I read that

So the toxic fumes and partials have what effect on air and water quality? Is this similar or worse than and oil spill?

not_a_lawyer | August 7, 2023 at 4:43 pm

Homeowner Insurance agencies will start to put clauses into their policies that forbid the charging, or even parking of EVs in attached garages. Then they will put in a clause demanding a minimum distance from the house, something like 20′.

Many homeowners do not have enough driveway space to park their EV a satisfactory distance from the house without being on the street.


As someone with deep, yet civilian-deep, knowledge of EVs, I’m interested in more detail than provided here.

First, where were the batteries manufactured? Where did the components come from?

Second, what about the semiconductors within the batteries?

Chinese lithium batteries are notorious for catching fire. One typical cause that I’ve run across in my reading is inadequate packaging. Expose a lithium battery to air, and it will catch fire. Thus, the package that contains the battery must be air-tight, including after a crash.

Another typical cause is the use of non-automotive grade semiconductors within the batteries. Remember the recent history of delayed vehicle shipments to customers for lack of semiconductors? I believe that non-automotive grade chips went into vehicles during that period.

Unfortunately, the media pretty much stinks when it comes to accurate reporting of technology issues. This predates the current “woke” period. The reality is that journalism is a glorified and less rigorous English major, and that average reporter can barely balance a checkbook let alone understand engineering issues. It’s ever been thus.

    oneoclock in reply to RandomCrank. | August 9, 2023 at 6:11 pm

    “The reality is that journalism is a glorified and less rigorous English major, and that average reporter can barely balance a checkbook let alone understand engineering issues. “

    This is why we can learn much more from the comments than the article.