London has seen a 60 percent increase in the number of e-bike fires so far this year, according to Deputy Fire Commissioner Dom Ellis in comments made to the Evening Standard newspaper.
In response, the London Fire Brigade has started the #ChargeSafe campaign, to alert people to the potential dangers of the bikes’ lithium-ion batteries, if they are of a poor quality and safety measures are not taken. These dangers are also present in electric car batteries. Key to addressing this risk is proper EV battery maintenance and effective health monitoring technologies.
Commenting on the issue, Victor Verissimo of Honeywell Sensing and Safety Technologies, noted the growing adoption of EVs as a positive trend, but added “there are risks that manufacturers need to be aware of.”
“Many of these vehicles today use lithium-ion batteries as an energy source, which can pose rare but significant safety risks, including fires, that can impact drivers on the road, homeowners with electrical vehicles parked at their residences, and shipping handlers transporting these vehicles to their final destinations.”
“The cause of fires varies, but chief among them is thermal runaway, a phenomenon that causes extremely high temperatures within the battery cell where it no longer functions properly and may eventually lead to vehicle failure, smoke, and fire. There are a number of factors that may affect the risk of this happening, including internal defects, an external short circuit, over-charging and others. Protecting against thermal runaway in electric vehicle batteries is crucial to helping keep people safe.
“As sales of battery-powered transport continue to increase, manufacturers are facing the need to provide lithium-ion batteries that are safe and reliable throughout their lifespan, so they are turning to new solutions for battery health monitoring. Fortunately, technology is making it far easier to monitor battery health. Advancements in sensor technology are providing battery management systems with updates on battery performance, making it possible to detect the signs of thermal runaway even earlier. Less expensive batteries purchased online rarely have these safeguards in place, making it important that consumers understand the impact and importance of manufacturer-approved batteries in vehicles.”