The transition to electric-powered vehicles is creating a growing problem for fire and rescue services worldwide. An electric car may not be more likely to catch fire than other vehicles, the problem is the difficulty of extinguishing a Li-ion battery.
A burning Li-ion battery can experience so-called thermal runaway, which in turn, will lead to the development of the highly toxic gas, hydrogen fluoride. Thermal runaway in a Li-ion battery can also cause the battery to re-ignite long after the fire is extinguished.
Cold Cut Systems and our partners have together carried out a project to see how the coldcut cobra cutting extinguisher can be used for this type of fire. This has led to the development of a new method for extinguishing fires in Li-ion batteries. The method has proven to be so effective that one of the major European car manufacturers now recommends it in their rescue data sheet for cars with Li-ion batteries.
The proposed solution step 1 – Cobra in combination with the Li-ion battery fire
By cutting through the battery with the coldcut cobra you get access to the fuel cells. Initially, the temperature is lowered with water. Then the water is mixed with a specially tested additive which ensures that the fire is extinguished, and the risk of ongoing thermal runaway is minimized.
The studies have shown that a mixture of water and additives introduced into the batteries under high pressure achieves very good and much quicker extinguishing results, compared to using water only.
The proposed solution step 2 – Securing the battery
To really make sure that no re-ignition (thermal runaway) occurs, a second step can be applied. By inserting another additive into the battery after the fire is extinguished, it is totally sealed and can be handled more easily and safely.
The tests so far show very positive results and further testing will be carried out together with our partners to complete the method, which is planned to be presented during fall 2020.
If you have any questions about Cold Cut Systems and Li-ion battery fires or would like further information, please contact us.
In the event of an electric vehicle accident, it is important that the vehicle’s rescue data sheet is used and that other safety routines are kept. The temperature of the battery pack should be monitored continuously with a thermal imaging camera.