From Electrek: Rare Tesla Model S fire following fatal crash in speeding accident

Discussion in 'News from Electrek.co' started by RSSFeed, Nov 3, 2016.

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  1. RSSFeed

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    Rare Tesla Model S fire following fatal crash in speeding accident

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    Cars catch on fire after severe high-speed impacts. That’s nothing new to Tesla or electric vehicles, but there’s also no doubt that battery fires are different from gas-powered car fires. The latest example comes from a tragic fatal accident in Indianapolis early this morning.

    The driver and passenger of a Tesla Model S died after hitting a tree at a reportedly high-speed. The car caught on fire following the accident and was difficult to extinguish according to local firefighters. more…

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  2. Jayc

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    Looking at the scenery, that road doesn't even look like a motorway. I realise this can sound a bit rude but really, cars are cars whether EV or not, the speed limit is there for a purpose and the basic limits of physics will always be at work no matter how advanced the car is. If you think that the speed limit is just a number and you decide to ignore that, at least you have to know whether a particular road can take those sort of speeds.
     
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  3. BigBri

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    ^^ yeah my thought too. It doesn't look like a highway. It's the one downside with giving people access to such incredibly powerful vehicles with tonnes of torque.
     
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  4. garsh

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    I wonder if it would be possible to include some kind of fire-suppression foam in the battery pack, triggered by heat. Something that could expand to fill the whole pack, withstand the high heat of an out-of-control chemical reaction, and be able to block oxygen from entering the equation and starting an actual fire.

    I know nothing about foam technology, or if interior bits would still spontaneously combust just from the heat of the chemical reaction. But I think preventing actual fires like this would do wonders for improving the public perception of electric cars.
     
  5. MelindaV

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    @garsh - or triggered by the airbag sensor going off. I believe on ICE vehicles, the fuel pump power is cut when the airbag is deployed. EVs could implement something similar in the event of a wreck - activate fire-suppression, disconnect the high voltage (instead of waiting for the fire fighters cutting the cable), etc.
     
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  6. Archaebald

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    The problem is, as you already pointed out, that Li-ion batteries contain oxidizing substances that can start and maintain a fire in the combustible electrolyte once the temperature is high enough (about 200 degrees Celsius). Once this "thermic rush" has started, it is more or less "self-providing" (not so depending on "external" oxygen) and very difficult to extinguish. Hence, a oxygen-blocking foam would not be sufficient to prevent that kind of fire. However, I agree with you that more effort needs to be invested in finding ways to prevent cell damage and exposure of the battery to dangerously high temperatures. Maybe a solution like the one you described could be used for insulating the battery from the heat generated by an "ordinary" fire, but this could also prevent external cooling of the battery (i.e., making things worse...). Although fires like this are still uncommon, being caught in a burning car is among the worst scenarios I can imagine, so I hope for a quick solution to this. I am sure that a fire-proof battery would be a strong selling point, at least in the highly safety-aware country of Volvo....
     
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  7. Archaebald

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    After a brief "litterature review" it seems to me that car fires is a rather neglected area in the car industry. While the number of people dying from car crashes has been drastically reduced over the last decades, the number dying from the subsequent car fires remains more or less the same. As a matter of a fact, according to the Swedish Traffic Safety Center, car fires is the most common post-crash "complication". For ICE cars, containing lots of electrical or hot components and flammable fluids, this is a serious problem. Nevertheless, the car industry apparently has shown little interest in this and have even stopped crash-testing the cars with fluids in them, allegedly in consideration of the health of the crash-test staff (according to "a source with insight into the industry", another, a less altruistic, argument is that people would not buy the cars if they were shown to be prone to catch fire in crashes). Now that the next-generation cars (i.e., electric) are being designed "from scratch", it'd be a good time to attend to this problem. Focussing on preventing penetration/fragmentation of the battery would be a good start, now that we do not have to worry about gasoline anymore...
     
  8. garsh

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  9. Archaebald

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    This is one of the reasons why I, normally void of car fetish tendencies, so much look forward to spending > 60k USD on my Tesla. They (Tesla) seem to take customer safety and satisfaction very seriously, not to mention our future on this planet (or Mars...). In this aspect, I'd say they are miles ahead of any other car manufacturer.
     

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