(EVs) catch fire, they are extremely difficult to extinguish. As the popularity of EVs begins to soar, there are concerns that fire departments across the country are unprepared for the associated risk.
Read on to learn what makes electric car fires so uniquely dangerous, what
for example, contains over 7,000 individual cells. A flammable electrolyte carries trillions of charged ions through the battery, and if the battery is damaged, an internal short-circuit could unleash a huge amount of stored energy.
If there is a spark the battery will quickly ignite. While burning, the stored energy within the lithium battery acts as a fuel source, making it very difficult to put out the fire. It’s the equivalent of trying to extinguish a bonfire with a hose, while someone else continues to pour gasoline on the flames.
, Tesla advises using "large amounts of water," carbon dioxide, or "dry chemicals."
But according to NBC, fire department officials don’t feel like they have enough information. For example, Tesla's manual provides little detail about what firefighters should do with the remains of damaged batteries. Even if the fire is out, they might still contain dangerous amounts of flammable energy.
Firefighters also struggle to transport the required amount of water to the scene of an electric car fire, especially if it is in a rural area, or the middle of a highway. Tesla hasn't offered a suggestion on how to get around this.
Popular Science points to a company called QuantumScape in Silicon Valley, which is developing a solid-state electrolyte lithium battery. If successful, this could revolutionize lithium batteries, rendering them as safe as the AA batteries used in small electrical appliances.
Some skepticism remains about the viability of this plan, but experts agree that with so much riding on electric vehicles, engineers will eventually find a solution.
Firefighters across the nation will hope that an engineering breakthrough happens sooner rather than later though, with as many as one in ten American drivers expected to go electric by 2025.
Alex is a versatile writer and editor. He has been writing about car insurance and other personal finance topics for several years. In his free time, Alex enjoys watching "Jeopardy!" and going to the park with his kids.