Here at Prosol UK we’ve spent the last five years learning all about EV fires, not only because they directly relate to the products and equipment we supply to provide safe working with EVs, but also because it’s a very interesting topic!
The main risks
As more and more drivers choose to switch to electric vehicles (almost 22,000 pure electric vehicles were registered in November 2021, more than double the number registered in the same month in 2020), the chances of actually experiencing an EV fire obviously increase in direct proportion. Whilst EV fires are relatively rare, when they do happen they can be highly dangerous for several different reasons.
The main risk with an EV fire is the very fact that the fire burns at a much higher temperature than a petrol or diesel car fire. Let’s explain the reasons why that’s a particular issue and concern for anyone working with, handling or even driving an EV.
Blame the battery
The most common form of fire in electric and hybrid vehicles is either a damaged high energy battery or a manufacturing fault that creates a short circuit. As such, a fire can literally start with zero external input. One minute the car is fine, the next it’s on fire and that can happen very quickly.
If an EV battery is affected in either of these ways, it can lead to a phenomenon known as ‘thermal runaway’. The damaged cells in the battery heat up extremely rapidly, and to such an extent, that a fire starts. Unchecked, this fire will quickly compromise adjoining cells to create a domino effect through the entire battery group. What’s more, electrolytes in the lithium-ion battery contain hydrocarbon solvents serve to fuel the resulting fire and create extreme temperatures of over 1,200°C.
It is impossible to extinguish thermal runaway fires by conventional means so the objective is to minimise combustion potential by depriving the fire of oxygen. The best way to achieve this is with a Prosol EV Car Fire Blanket.
As well as the difficulties and dangers associated with actually controlling an EV fire, the organic chemicals that are produced from the fire, including highly toxic gases like carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, can be fatal to both humans and animals. The fumes and smoke generated by an EV fire can prevent firefighters from tackling the blaze particularly if it is in an enclosed area such as a garage or underground carpark.
At the same time, due to the explosive nature of an EV fire, surrounding vehicles are likely to be affected. There are numerous accounts of one EV fire spreading to neighbouring EVs and causing a major incident. So, limiting the damage and risks associated with EV fires is an ongoing area of development for everyone associated with the automotive industry.
Deploying an EV Car Fire Blanket
As outlined, one of the ways in which EV car fires can be mitigated is with the early deployment of an EV Car Fire Blanket. Seeing first-hand how much damage and destruction an EV fire can create, our R&D team has been working tirelessly to develop the Prosol EV Car Fire Blanket.
Specifically designed to contain electric and hybrid vehicle fires, the Prosol EV Car Fire Blanket will inhibit any EV car battery fire by rapidly reducing the temperature of the fire and thereby limiting potential damage to proximate vehicles and property.
Weighing 25kg and measuring 48m2, the Prosol EV Car Fire Blanket can quickly and easily be deployed by two people.
The Prosol EV Car Fire Blanket is an essential item of health & safety equipment for dealing with electric and hybrid vehicle fires should they ever occur in your garage, workshop, compound, carpark or dealership.
How does an electric vehicle fire blanket work?
With more and more electric vehicles appearing across the UK road network, the need for an effective electric vehicle fire blanket is fast becoming a prerequisite for a wide variety of organisations, industries and locations including charging points and car parks. But how does an electric vehicle fire blanket work?
Starve the fire of oxygen
Fire blankets have been around for many years. They were first invented in 1953 by Bill Bridgeman who actually set out to create a safety blanket for infants. The basic premise of any fire blanket is to starve the fire of oxygen. A fire is predominantly fuelled by oxygen so by covering the person, object or vehicle with a fire blanket will prevent further combustion and ultimately extinguish the fire. Remember the fire brigade TV adverts from back in the 80s where a fire blanket was thrown over the flames of a chip pan fire? Many fire blankets have been used ever since to prevent homes going up in smoke!
Using an electric car fire blanket to best effect
Whilst electric vehicle fires are not an everyday occurrence, whenever they do happen they can quickly escalate and cause devastating damage, particularly if the batteries end up in ‘thermal runaway’. What’s more, they are impossible to extinguish using traditional car firefighting methods. This is just one of the reasons why deploying an electric car fire blanket can make a huge difference to the overall outcome of an electric vehicle fire.
A damaged high energy lithium-ion battery or manufacturing defect are the most common causes of fire in electric vehicles. As such, there is always the potential that an electric vehicle that seems completely fine can suddenly catch fire without any external input. And a common time for this to happen is when the vehicle is being charged so having an electric vehicle fire blanket on hand in this situation is imperative. If you see smoke or smell burning at any point during charging, an electric vehicle car fire blanket should be deployed if it is safe to do so.
Thermal runaway and electric vehicle fire blankets
As mentioned previously, the phenomenon known as thermal runaway is one of the most dangerous elements of electric vehicle fires. Thermal runaway can strike when damaged cells in the car’s battery heat up so fast and so intensely that a fire is unavoidable. If this type of fire is not tackled, the adjoining cells in the battery are affected thus creating a fire domino effect. Add the electrolytes contained in the lithium-ion battery to the fire and severe temperatures of over 1,200°C can be achieved.
If an electric vehicle fire blanket can be thrown over the car before thermal runaway materialises, the fire can be diminished, and the explosive potential of thermal runaway reduced. Another reason why an electric vehicle fire blanket is an essential item of equipment wherever electric vehicles are present.
The Prosol Electric Vehicle Fire Blanket
Following significant time and investment in research and development, we have created an electric vehicle fire blanket that is highly effective and has been evaluated at Horiba MIRA.
Designed to deprive the fire of oxygen and reduce the temperature of the fire, the Prosol Electric Vehicle Fire Blanket is the ideal solution for limiting the potential widespread damage to other vehicles and adjacent property.
It can easily be utilised to cover any size car by two people as it measures 48m2 and weighs just 28kg. The Prosol Electric Vehicle Fire Blanket is a essential item of health & safety equipment whenever and wherever electric vehicles are used, charged, parked, maintained and stored.