BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – As electric cars become more prevalent, the issue of spontaneous combustion will come to the fore and have to be contended with, Damien Ernst, a professor of electro-mechanical engineering at the University of Liege, said.
The media have been regularly reporting about various electric car models bursting into flames across the world, resulting in fires that are difficult to extinguish. While there is little concern about the matter at the moment, since petroleum and diesel cars are ten times as likely to catch on fire, the success of electric cars could make the figures more worrying in the future.
The expert went on to explain that the cause of fires in electric cars is always the lithium-ion battery, which can burn for more than a day and needs 10,000 litres of water to put out. When one battery cell overheats it creates a so-called thermal runaway, which spreads through the entire battery. This can happen due to overcharging or a problem with the charging station, but could also occur on the road or after a crash.
The professor warned that as the energy density of batteries increases to provide more mileage to the car, the risk of fires will worsen, especially as electric cars get older.