Electric Cars – The Solution, A Solution, Or No Solution?

Tesla – Electric Vehicle (EV)

Electric Vehicles Explained In TED Talk HERE.

Muhammed Ali used a boxing technique he called “Rope-A-Dope”! It was a sucker play that exhausted his opponent so that Ali could, late in the match, go after his worn out opponent with all he had and lay him out cold in a hurry. It was much to the chagrin of his manager, but was very highly successful, although Ali suffered plenty of bruised ribs in the process.

So, has the “green” lobby got us in a Rope-A-Dope dilemma? Let’s examine some current facts of the matter to make an intelligent assessment! HERE is an independent analysis of the Tesla which is the best selling EV (Electric Vehicle) in the world. Tesla’s top rated battery will take the car 358 miles on one charge, and it takes in a best case scenario with a “Supercharger”, if you can find one when you need it, 15 minutes for a 200 mile range. Assuming that you want a full charge, it would take then about 25 minutes.

If you’re range that you wish to drive in one direction is 100 miles or less, then an electric car may be for you. Keep in mind, that you must draw electricity from somewhere, and that somewhere is a power plant which is, if the “greenies” are being satisfied, run on solar and wind power. Much to the chagrin of the greenies, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Therefore, a power plant which utilizes gas or coal must be kept going at all times for back up. In other words, there is a duplication of efforts to make sure the “greenies” are satisfied and that their warm and fuzzy feelings do not get disturbed.

But wait, what if you want to go cross country from San Francisco to New York City? That’s 2900 miles. Let’s divide that 2900 by the 358 mile range to see how many charges are needed to get there – we find it comes to 9 charges. The current estimate for travel time in a gas powered vehicle is 44 hours HERE. 9 charges would add roughly 4 hours to your drive time. That brings your cross country trip up to 48 hours. That’s not too bad, but can you afford to run your battery down to just a couple of miles. Remember if you run out of a charge, you can’t just have an extra 5 gallons of gas in the trunk, you’ve got to have the charging station at your disposal. Realistically, you’re likely going to need at least 10 charges.

Filling up with gas takes about 5 minutes, and generally you don’t have to wait for more that one car ahead of you unless you’re at COSTCO. On the other hand, at a charging station, if you have to wait on someone in front of you, you could be waiting for a half hour. Not only that, but if they don’t have the top of the line battery, it will not charge as fast as your Tesla battery. So, let’s say you’re lucky enough to only have to charge 10 times just to be on the safe side so you don’t run your battery all the way down. That makes for almost 4 and a half hours of time. Then, let’s say you only have to wait every other time for the guy in front of you to charge his vehicle, and on average that only takes 40 minutes (not everyone has a top of the line battery. You are now up to about 7 and a half hours added to your travel time of 44 hours. That’s only a 15% increase, so that’s not too bad. But wait, what if you get stuck in traffic or have construction delays – many of you know that’s almost inevitable on a cross country trip. That kind of situation could not only add to your drive time, but it could also add to your number of times you have to charge the vehicle. Remember, this entire scenario I’ve portrayed is under the most ideal of circumstances. Under any number of other possible scenarios, you could add 10 to 20 hours to your trip which would also require a motel or hotel stay to get some much needed sleep. That adds to your expense and detracts from the time at your destination before you head back.

But wait, there’s another thing to consider, and that is the fire hazard of a large car battery – see a battery fire HERE & HERE. What if this happened in your garage while you’re asleep at night? It wouldn’t take long to burn down your house, and maybe you with it. What if you’re in a multi-family complex and your car catches fire and burns down the complex as well as other cars? Whenever anything consumes and uses energy, there are risks – that is a fact. Weigh the risks and make your determination.

We’re not quite finished though. Two other things to consider is that your gauge that tells you how much battery life is left could fail and you may find yourself stranded miles from civilization and out of cell phone reach. Also, the cost of an EV is 2 to 3 X’s the cost of the average gas powered vehicle and/or SUV. This writer is waiting until there is a battery with a 500 mile range at least, – with a charging time for a full charge of no more than 15 minutes, and the vehicle costs no more than a gas powered vehicle. Additionally, I’d like to see about 100,000 charging stations in America. Then, an EV will be a practical item indeed.

EV fires loom large

As EV sales rise, a whole new set of unique fire risks are being unleashed on the community

By John Mellor on 13th November 2021  DealershipsNews  BatteryEVFire

AS PRIME Minister Scott Morrison’s plan to accelerate the sales of electric vehicles is being unrolled over the next decade, emergency services are stealing themselves to fight a completely new set of fire risks that will emerge as EVs become more popular.

Cars catch fire. But data from London fires indicate that EVs are catching fire at twice the rate of petrol or diesel vehicles which are far easier and faster to extinguish. 

But what is not generally realised in the broader community is that EV battery fires are prone to start without warning, burn especially ferociously and can take hours or even days to extinguish.

EV fires commonly occur after the battery pack is compromised in a road crash or even while charging. Sometimes they start from an internal fault spontaneously. Ford and Hyundai have already conducted recalls to replace faulty batteries that overheated during charging. 

EV fires resulting from what they call “thermal runaways” through the battery pack can burn at 1000 degrees celsius – three times the temperature required for a nuclear power station to make electricity. 

EV batteries are made from hundreds of ‘AA-like batteries’ all packed together into one large battery pack. If one battery overheats and catches fire it spreads to the batteries beside it and they in turn ignite the batteries next to them – hence the expression “thermal runaway”.

But EV fires not only produce intense heat, they emit poisonous smoke which is a danger to firefighters and, because it can take so long to make an EV fire safe (up to 24 hours), roads are blocked for long hours causing mass disruptions to traffic. 

This has serious ramifications for those who have to fight EV fires and in Europe emergency services have even resorted to dumping burning EVs into skips full of water in an attempt to cool flaring battery packs.  

In Denmark fire fighters haul burning EVs into purpose-built containers to douse and isolate the fires and to prevent them from flaring up again which can happen days after it was thought the fire was extinguished.

According to the Confederation of Fire Protection Associations of Europe, firefighters need more than 60,000 litres of water and a flow rate of 1100 litres per minute to even tackle an EV fire and need to prevent the water from flowing into drains because of the toxins the water picks up from the burning batteries.

As more and more EVs are sold the issue becomes more urgent. 

The heat of an EV fire is so great that surrounding infrastructure can be destroyed. It does not take much imagination to understand what would be left of a house garaging an EV that caught fire while charging overnight, but authorities are staring down far more damaging consequences of fires where groups of EVs are parked together.

Owners corporations of apartment blocks need to consider whether such intense fires of EVs in basement car parks will compromise their buildings. The same for car park operators.

In Norway, which has the world’s highest concentration of EVs on the road, more than 300 cars were destroyed by a fire in the car park at Stavanger airport in 2020.

The issue of fumes is especially high when trying to contain a fire – especially in confined spaces like an underground car park. EV fires produce hydrogen fluoride which is extremely harmful and even small doses can result in water on the lungs. Intense smoke can prevent firefighters even entering confined spaces like car parks – and car carrier decks.

The risk for car carriers is huge given deck after deck will be increasingly loaded with EVs.

In 2019, the Grande America, a roll-on roll-off vessel with more than 2000 new and used vehicles on board sank in the Bay of Biscay after igniting. The crew of 26 tried to combat the fire but, within hours, the heat was so intense that it weakened the structural integrity of the ship’s bulkheads and hull. There was little that any of the crew members could do but to abandon ship.

Also in the same year, two other vessels reported car fires including a Mitsui OSK Lines car transport carrying 3500 Nissan vehicles, which led to the death of five crew members and severe damage to the vessel and cargo.

While it was not clearly stated if the EVs were the actual source of the fires on the Grande America, or other ships that suffered fires, the International Maritime Organisation issued a paper in June this year in which it said that fire fighting equipment and measures in existing ships carrying cars needed to be re-assessed because of the:

·         Demand for ships carrying large quantities of lithium-ion battery vehicles

·         Frequent occurrence of fire accidents of lithium-ion battery vehicles caused by battery self-ignition on land; and

·         Reports on several fire accidents occurring on ships carrying lithium-ion battery vehicles which are directly related to the vehicle.

The report said: “The ever-increasing demand for ships carrying large quantities of various types of new energy vehicles including lithium-ion battery vehicles and reports on several major fire accidents occurring on ships carrying lithium-ion battery vehicles serve as a reminder that the international maritime community needs to pay attention to the special safety risks of ships carrying new energy vehicles.”

The report added: “The main risk of electric vehicles involves the fire caused by thermal runaway of lithium-ion batteries and the gas explosion caused by the release of combustible gas due to thermal runaway.”

Stuart Coulton, manager – fire products at PT Rescue in Melbourne told GoAutoNews Premium that in addition to the intense heat and toxic fumes from thermal runaway EV fires, there was a serious issue of battery re-ignition which had human safety and property damage implications for those who store EVs awaiting repair.

PT Rescue distributes Bridgehill car fire blankets which are unfolded and dragged over burning cars thus containing the fire under the cover. The blankets are made from similar material to that used on space vehicles to protect them from the intense heat generated on re-entry into earth’s atmosphere. Standard blankets are suitable for a single use while advanced blankets can be reused up to 30 times.

Mr Coulton said that the blankets were suitable for car dealerships, car repair shops, car service workshops, EV charging facilities, car ferries, road tunnel operators (where toxic fumes are especially a danger), tow truck operators, and vehicle scrap yards.

He said Porsche Cars Australia has bought 40 blankets and storage cabinets for its dealership service centres. 

The threat of reignition days after the initial fire means damaged EVs must be stored in isolation well away from other vehicles and buildings which demands a huge amount of expensive real estate.  Some dealers in Europe have built underground bunkers in case of an EV catching fire on their premises. 

Mr Coulton said that the Bridgehill blankets were being purchased by the operators of car carriers and roll-on roll-off ferries around the world and especially Norway where EVs are now widely used and were especially effective in avoiding a major fire if deployed very early after the initial outbreak.

By John Mellor

In the meantime, an EV is a possible solution, although not “the only” solution. Enjoy driving!

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Pensamiento Peligroso writes the truth as he sees it, and if it upsets you, then it makes you think!

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