back to article E-car crash leads to battery blaze

A GM Volt e-car has burst into flames following a crash. To be fair, the crash was intentional. It was a side-impact test performed by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in May, but has now prompted a probe into e-car battery safety, Reuters reports. And the fire broke out more than three weeks after the …

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Silver badge
Mushroom

Double Whammy

> And the fire broke out more than three weeks after the prang.

So, the scenario as I see it is: You've been made redundant; the bank forecloses on your mortgage; you're evicted; you start living in your car; someone crashes into your car; three weeks later your car catches fire.

Bad times indeed.

More advice here:

- http://www.wikihow.com/Live-in-Your-Car

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Anonymous Coward

This model uses the LG batteries - they switched to A123 batteries for the newer 'Spark' model which I believe are much safer than normal li-ion cells. Good move!

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Shouldn't the headline read...

Possibly unrelated fire starts long after e-car crash testing is completed - no one hurt.

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Anonymous Coward

Fire broke out thrree weeks after the crash?

I'd expect the fire brigade to arrive and cut me free within three weeks; even if the crash happened on the M25.

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What?

So, the Volt in America, the Ampera in the UK, so is it to be the Watt in the rest of Europe?

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Silver badge

Opel Ampera

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Anonymous Coward

Volt/Ampera = fire

Ohm my god and watt the hell?

I'll get my coat.

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Headmaster

Volt * Ampera = Watt, Volt/Amera = Ohm my god!

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Mushroom

not quite on topic but

do I have to worry about spontaneous trouser fires weeks after dropping my phone?

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Holmes

Heavy metals...

I recall a forum conversation with an LA Fire Department EMT who said they had a to attended a hybrid car fire. Breathing apparatus was required as always, but the smoke is even more toxic when those Prismatic Batteries are aflame, so they tend to vacate an overly large area due to the toxic smoke

He also said the civil engineering department had to excavate the road due to the amount of heavy metals from the batteries that had soaked into the melted tarmac. Apparently they dig out about two foot of soil and replace it to stop the contamination from spreading through the soil.

As great as we believe these electo cars are, it looks like they also have their downside. The bottom line is they are a lot more toxic when ablaze than their internal combustion equivalents.

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Anonymous Coward

It's good to know that makers of 70s cop shows

won't find the electric revolution deprives them of spectacular post-impact conflagrations, although they might need to adjust their shooting schedules

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Anonymous Coward

From what I read the car was crashed and normally with a petrol or EV car certain checks would be done to ensure everything was ok (after all a petrol car could equally have a small rupture in a pipe as well) - but these checks were not done.

Still they do need to ensure these battery packs are as safe as possible.

Funny how (in comparison) no-one seems concerned driving around with ~100 litres of petrol under their back seats?

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Joke

"Funny how (in comparison) no-one seems concerned driving around with ~100 litres of petrol under their back seats?"

Holy crap, what do you drive? A Bus?

Most cars have a 40-60 Litre tank.

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Gold badge
Coat

"..the fire broke out more than three weeks after the prang."

OMFG! Think of the snails!!111!!

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Anonymous Coward

"As great as we believe these electo cars are, it looks like they also have their downside. The bottom line is they are a lot more toxic when ablaze than their internal combustion equivalents."

But remember to balance this against the massive environmental costs of oil production, refining and then burning as petrol / diesel in our cars.

Oill will continue to increase in cost as it gets scarcer and more expensive to extract - electricity should increase less as there are so many different (hopefully cheaper) ways in which it can be generated.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re:

Also remember that the shit coming out of your average diesel's tailpipe is a major cause of respiratory disease in cities the world over.

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s/average/old/g

There, fixed it for ya.

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Facepalm

Also...

remember the vast pollution created extracting those highly toxic metals out of the ground that are needed to make those batteries, and massive amount of resources needed to to mine the ore and refine it.

Also the fact that most electricity is generated by coal, oil, gas and nuclear (no specific order implied).

The levels of respiratory disease caused by tailpipe fumes is utterly irrelevant compared to smoking tobacco (or any other organic weeds), which kills millions every year.

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Anonymous Coward

"He also said the civil engineering department had to excavate the road due to the amount of heavy metals from the batteries that had soaked into the melted tarmac. Apparently they dig out about two foot of soil and replace it to stop the contamination from spreading through the soil."

Sounds a bit OTT digging 2 feet down - do they also do this everytime a conventional car sets on fire and the lead from the battery melts or the fuel / oil spills out etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Or...

Do they merely need to dig 2ft down to properly rebuild and resurface any road that has had a serious fire on it?

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Anonymous Coward

If there are diesel spills they have to resurface the road as well, as the diesel both brakes down the macadam causing pot holes as well as making that part of the road very unsafe in wet weather.

Though it usually only has 2 inches or so removed and relayed these days so the contractor can (come back in 6 months to do it again when is broken up after a little freezing for more money) get the job by entering a cheap quote.

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Coat

Eco warrior's to shame...

Hardly an Enviromentally friendly car if it goes up producing more toxins than a regular gas guzler car on fire...

(Yes I realise that it's not Eco friendly in the first place as all the "where does the elec come from" and "what happens to used batteries".. blah blah blah..)

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Silver badge

Ecco warriors have no shame.

They are only interested in redistributing the wealth to the less fortunate. If they had any shame there wouldn't be any kind of push for electric cars whatsoever. Anybody who has seriously looked at the engineering and efficiency of these cars knows that even the worst gas guzzler from the 1960s is a more eco-friendly car once you are done considering all the toxins required to manufacture an electric car and the frequency of battery replacements.

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Silver badge
Devil

RE: Eco warrior's to shame...

Ah, but I have the answer (to shutting up the Greenpeckers)! I have a solution that is not only truly "Green", it has zero emmissions (apart from plenty of swearing when going up hills), and also has secondary health benefits! The next time a Greenpecker is dissing your choice of motor, simply ask him why he doesn't use the following as his family transport? (It also has the added side benefit that a few of these being hit by articulated lorries should thin out the annoying Greenpecker population quite nicely....)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Quadricycle_Intl_Q-cycle-6_06.JPG

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Coat

Volt x Ampera = What?

Sorry.

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Anonymous Coward

Should have used Lithium iron phosphate batteries:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_iron_phosphate_battery

Taken from the article:

"superior thermal and chemical stability"

"lithium iron phosphate cells are virtually incombustible in the event of mishandling during charge or discharge, and can handle high temperatures without decomposing"

No wonder they are using the A123 / lithium iron phosphate packs in the newer 'Spark'.

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Anonymous Coward

How is that different from normal cars?

A few years ago my sister and her car were in a crash. Garage was busy and did not have a loan car available so told he to drive it home and go back to the garage a few days later. Note this was a normal car, not an electric not even a hybrid. In the night the battery acid leaked, some sort of sparking happened in some cabling and the car went up in flames. It took with it the car next to it, the car port, the entire house the car port was attached to and most of the house contents. By the time the fire brigade arrived the house was pretty much burned to the ground. It was a matter of a complete rebuild. It is a miracle I woke up in the night (was visiting my sister over Christmas) so we all got out unharmed and even managed to save some personal possessions. Seems to me electric cars are no more dangerous than that!

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says:

That's unusual. Normally when a high-tech craft goes into self-destruct mode a female voice repeatedly announces how long to destruction, accompanied by loud warning hooters and flashing lights.

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Mushroom

Saving the planet

It's good to know that we are considering using this material to store the energy used to move our personal transport around with.

I mean, it's so ecologically friendly.

Wikipedia states mining and production of this material would cause irreparable damage to delicate eco-systems.

There isn't nearly enough of it to go round anyway.

It is more volatile than petrol, it catches fire when exposed to the air.

Now it seems to smoulder surreptitiously and then suddenly ignite three weeks later.

So bearing in mind that it is not a serious contender for use in cars for the above reasons, it is now clear that it isn't much of a vanity product for GM either.

Back to the drawing board I guess…

I know…

What about petrol?

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Silver badge
Holmes

If Hollywood is to believed * ...

...petrol engined cars will explode into a flaming fireball under the slightest provocation. Good to see that e-cars continue in the same fine tradition.

* Yeah, right

On a more serious note, any cars will inherently be carrying a large amount of energy, whether it's storing it in batteries, hydrocarbon or hydrogen form, so the risk of all that energy being accidentally released all at once is always going to be non-zero.

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Anonymous Coward

The big difference is that if your fuel tank or line rupture you get:

1. A big wet patch under you car.

2. A strong smell of the fuel (for petrol/deisel)

3. As a liquid it is surprisingly difficult to ignite unless the ground is very warm to cause lots of vapour.

Whereas if that massive battery is compromised you see/smell naff all until it catches fire.

Hydrogen give you the worst of both with the added massive expense of creating and storing the gas.

(currently about 90% of the industrial production of Hydrogen is made from natural gas).

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Anonymous Coward

"The big difference is that if your fuel tank or line rupture" - but in a serious impact I bet there is more chance of (immediate) fire / explosion from petrol that batteries?

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