When it comes to mobility, the future is electric, and that means lots of batteries. Unfortunately, batteries can potentially catch fire or explode, causing rapid, violent fires. But maybe we have a solution – or several solutions.
This article is part three, the finale in a series I’ve written about lithium-ion battery fires in e-scooters and e-bikes. part One studied the occurrence of battery fires during Second part looked at causality. Today I focus on prevention. Let’s get in:
Prevent a fire from starting
What if we could prevent a fire in the first place?
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That thermal restorer Device provides preventive maintenance. The device monitors detection points and detects heat.
If it detects abnormal heat (above 80°C), it will disconnect power and remove the ignition source.
It can be built into new and existing consumer electronics and is easy to install.
Verdict: Could a product like a Thermarestor be retrofitted? I can see it resonating, especially with e-bike owners who are already hacking their e-bikes. Linking Observability to an app would also be helpful.
What if there was a way to put out lithium-ion battery fires where they started? To meet the e-bulbmarketed as “the world’s smallest fire extinguisher”.
More specifically, the e-bulb is a thermally activated glass bulb that contains a circuit breaker. The bulb contains a non-toxic, non-conductive extinguishing liquid. When a dangerous temperature is reached, the thermal bulb bursts and the liquid turns into gas. The fire is extinguished within seconds
The E-lamp also cuts power if a fire occurs while an appliance is connected. This means that the electrical fire cannot be reignited.
The company is currently in talks with car manufacturers to apply their solution to batteries.
Verdict: What’s not to like about a product that puts out small fires at the source? In contrast to the Thermarestor, however, the E-lamp reacts more as a preventive measure.
battery start ZapBatt thinks lithium titanate batteries will be the safe batteries of the future.
Lithium titanate is a nanocrystal of titanium that changes from a conductor to a resistor under thermal runway conditions, effectively containing a form of built-in self-sustainability.
According to Charlie Welch, CEO and co-founder of ZapBatt, unlike lithium-ion:
You can do almost anything with it [a lithium titanate battery]short it, overvoltage it, pierce it, and it won’t go into thermal runaway.
I saw the cell being tortured and I never saw a single fire on them.
Historically, lithium titanate has not received as much attention as lithium-ion due to its lower energy density.
Lithium titanate as a viable alternative to lithium ion is emerging in places such as Taiwanwhere it is currently used in the development of electric vehicles and electric buses.
The downside is that lithium titanate batteries cost twice as much as lithium ion batteries. However, ZapBatt plans to release a micro-mobility battery next year that is not only much safer, but can be fully charged in 20 minutes and last up to 20 years.
Verdict: This will no doubt be a game changer for the industry, especially for providers willing to foot the extra cost or owners looking for faster charging.
Bikes for heavy trips
In New York there are e-bikes Commonly used by delivery drivers guilty of buying cheap bikes, riding them beyond their intended use, and unsafely charging their batteries, increasing the risk of fire.
But one company sells and rents e-bikes specifically for delivery drivers Zoomo. I spoke to Joey Skavroneck, the company’s US director. He told me that the world’s largest and most innovative delivery brands use Zoomo e-bikes including UberEats, Deliveroo, Doordash, Just Eat Takeaway, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Gorillas, Getir, Milkrun, Zapp and many more.
Among various commendable features, Zoomo’s batteries are long-lasting (up to 8 hours) and fast-charging (4 hours), allowing drivers to complete long shifts without worrying about a dead battery (or relying on unsafe charging scenarios). ). All drivers get access to Zoomo’s comprehensive service and maintenance plans.
The company told me it has been working with individual partners to elucidate which vehicles and batteries are unsafe, secure storage and advanced solutions to meet delivery requirements.
Zoomo believes there is a need to encourage couriers to buy or rent safer and more legal e-bikes “so that couriers can continue to make a living without endangering their homes.”
Verdict: Bikes designed for delivery drivers seem like an obvious win. But there needs to be some pretty big financial (or regulatory) incentives to turn gig economy drivers away from cheaper brands. In an ideal world, delivery companies would also provide appropriate storage and changing facilities.
Find bad batteries
A crucial part of battery safety is identifying problems during the R&D phase. A startup called voltaic has developed the mobility industry’s first Enterprise Battery Intelligence (EBI) software platform, helping it avoid costly recalls and catastrophic battery fires.
I spoke to Voltaiq CEO Tal Shollapper to learn more about their platform, which pulls data from silos and automatically collects all battery data from the test lab, production line, and systems operated in the field. It converts this data into a standard format and organizes and stores it in a secure, central location that users can access.
Verdict: significant. You can’t fight a problem if you don’t really understand it. Voltaiq is currently working with several auto OEMs and the technology would benefit micro-mobility companies that choose to develop their own batteries.
Integrate battery security into your MVP
Meet the Bo-Scooter
I wanted to understand how micromobility manufacturers are tackling battery fires. I spoke to Oscar Morgan, CEO of the escooter company boa company that aims to create “the safest scooter in the world”.
Cell traceability is a priority. The company uses high-quality battery cells that have a high level of traceability:
This means when a problem occurs within a specific batch [e.g. 1 million cells] You can trace it back to this stack and compare the frequency of occurrence to the expected failure rate per million cells.
If the incident rate is outside of reasonable expectation, products using these batteries can be notified and recalled.
Traceability is particularly lacking in cheap e-bikes and e-scooters, which mostly use unbranded, untraceable cells – possibly even from multiple suppliers.
As Morgan notes, “The rate of incidence within a given batch is almost impossible to identify, making it a dung heap as to whether a given batch of cells is safe.”
Also in Bo’s favor is the use of a high-quality BMS with multiple thermocouple sensors that monitor the temperature of the cells, control the charging circuitry, and isolate modules of the battery when an “out-of-parameter” condition is detected.
Morgan claims that the shortest way to eliminate the risk of battery fires is to “enclose all batteries in a ventilated stainless steel case that has a melting point higher than the combustion temperature of lithium. However, this is not always practical for weight, design and cost reasons.”
Verdict: On the positive side, Bo is thinking critically about battery safety. I would like to see a partnership with some preventative technologies like Thermarestor.
General safety tips for e-bike and e-scooter owners
Buy your e-bike and battery from a reliable supplier. Image source: Bosch
Are you planning to buy an e-bike or e-scooter and now imagine your home is on fire? Here are some proven safety tips:
- Buy e-bikes and e-scooters from a reputable dealer.
- Be aware of the risk fake Products.
- When purchasing devices, make sure that the device has the Underwriters Laboratories Markshowing that the product has been safety checked.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for loading and storing.
- Use the manufacturer’s official charger.
- It is best to park your vehicle outside.
- Do not park or charge electric bicycles or e-scooters in public areas such as stairwells, fire exits, and emergency exits.
- Be present during the charging process.
- Don’t Overcharge – Disconnect, unplug and turn off the charger once it’s fully charged.
- Allow time between loading and driving.
- Keep e-bikes and e-scooters away from extreme heat as much as possible.
Preventing and responding to the risk of lithium-ion battery fires is complex and multifaceted.
However, this must be a priority, especially as existing batteries degrade with use and increase the risk of fire.