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November 8, 2021

Fire and Thermal Runaway Propagation Challenges in Electric Vehicles: What We Recommend

a vehicle on fire

Electric vehicles are gaining popularity worldwide with many choices being available to customers at different price points and features. The lineup of EV offerings from the automotive startups and legacy manufacturers varies based on cost due to the differences in range, fast charge capability, technology add-ons, and safety features. The high energy contained in EV batteries needs to be managed properly to avoid safety mishaps. Although rare, off-nominal conditions in batteries may lead to battery fire and explosion resulting from thermal runaway. Thermal runaway in EV batteries leading to fires has become a major hurdle for the automotive industry which is still trying to convince customers to make a switch to electric vehicles. Vehicle fires due to batteries also present challenges to firefighters and emergency responders who may not be equipped and trained to handle battery fires.

The Underwriters Laboratories Electrochemical Safety Research Institute (ESRI) team has provided insight on the challenges encountered with electric vehicles due to the nature of the hazards associated with lithium-ion batteries and provided some recommendations on mitigating the challenges with high quality and appropriate design and use.

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