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Bhopal: Thermal runaway, battery overcharging to be blamed for fire in EVs, say experts

Battery management system to trigger cooling effect might be a solution

Staff Reporter | Updated on: Monday, May 02, 2022, 12:04 AM IST

A EV scooter that caught fire in Nishatpura area of Bhopal on  Saturday night | FP
A EV scooter that caught fire in Nishatpura area of Bhopal on Saturday night | FP
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Bhopal(Madhya Pradesh): The incident of a two-month old electric vehicle exploding in Bhopal’s Nishatpura area on Saturday night has left everyone worried. Earlier, a death was reported in a similar incident in Hyderabad.

Though the government is raising awareness about the use of electric vehicles to cut use of carbon-rich petroleum, the safety concern is raising eyebrows. The experts believe overcharging, sub-standard parts/cells from China and thermal runaway are prime reasons for accidents in electric vehicles.

An explosion took place in a scooter when it was put on charge on Saturday night in Nishatpura locality. The vehicle, owned by Rahul Guru, turned into ashes within 20 minutes leaving only the chassis behind. The family of three was stuck inside their home for half an hour.

Ashok Agarwal, the chief executive officer of a leading EV manufacturing company, said, “EV scooters catching fire can be cited to a thermal runaway that can occur due to multiple reasons including melting of the electrolyte, operational temperatures of the battery, poor quality of the battery cells and battery pack assemblies, and lack of active cells assemblies.”

“The batteries are manufactured in low temperature areas and lithium-ion batteries release more heat. With soaring temperature in India right now, the battery pack temperature might rise above optimal values. Sudden or prolonged charging accelerates the process,” he added.

Agarwal said that EV companies are still working on smart battery management systems and thermal management systems to avoid such accidents. Excessive heating would trigger a cooling system and fans would activate around the cell packet.

There are times when manufacturers put in extra cells inside the battery packet, without considering the side-effects, said Rajeev YSR, the CEO of a EV manufacturing company.

The manufacturers would show the customers their top-quality vehicle parts and would replace them with low-quality Chinese products during manufacture, making them prone to such accidents, he added.

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Published on: Monday, May 02, 2022, 12:04 AM IST