Explosions in the batteries of electric two-wheelers

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Explosions in the batteries of electric two-wheelers

A man succumbed to burns and suffocation while his wife and children were battling for life allegedly due to the explosion of the battery of his electric scooter bought a day ago, in Gulabi Thota of Vijayawada.

Electric vehicle battery

  • aka traction battery
  • A rechargeable battery used to power the electric motors of a battery electric vehicle (BEV) or hybrid electric vehicle (HEV).
  • Typically lithium-ion batteries, are specifically designed for high electric charge (or energy) capacity.

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Lithium ion batteries and their working

  • Used electric cars, smartphones, laptops, etc.
  • Most popular battery type powering millions of consumer electronics around the world.
  • Consist of an anode, cathode, separator, electrolyte, and two current collectors.
  • Light weight, high energy density, and easy to recharge - hence, used widely.
  • Typically have a longer lifespan compared to a lead acid battery.
  • Can typically store 150 watts-hour per kg as compared to a lead-acid battery which stores only around 25 watts-hour per kg.
  • Offer more efficiency compared to other battery types while keeping the form factor of a product relatively compact, which means an electric car fitted with Li-ion batteries will have a greater driving range, and smartphones will last longer through the day.
  • However its high energy density can also be a potential reason behind the battery’s undoing.
  • Means these cells can become unstable in certain conditions, hampering functionality.
  • Work best within a safe operating limit.
  • A battery management system (BMS) is applied to a Li-ion battery to make sure they operate safely.

Battery management system

  • An electronic system connected to all the cells in a Li-ion battery pack, which constantly measure their voltage and the current flowing through it.
  • Also equipped with a myriad of temperature sensors, providing it information on temperatures at different sections of the battery pack.
  • All this data helps the BMS calculate other parameters of a battery pack, like the charging and discharging rate, battery life cycle, and efficiency.

Government steps in to control fires

  • With increasing incidents of electric two-wheelers catching fire, the government has swung into action.
  • The companies found negligent will be penalised and a recall of all defective vehicles will be ordered after receiving the report of an expert panel that has been formed to enquire into the matter.
  • The government had ordered a probe last month after an e-scooter launched by ride-hailing operator Ola's electric mobility arm caught fire in Pune.
  • The Centre for Fire Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES) had been asked to probe the circumstances that led to the incident and also suggest remedial measures, according to the road transport ministry.
  • The ministry had also asked CFEES to share the findings along with its suggestions on measures to prevent such incidents.
  • Government think tank Niti Aayog on Thursday also came out with a draft battery swapping policy for electric vehicles and suggested incentives as well as a rigorous testing protocol for swappable batteries.
    • It held that all major cities such as state capitals, UT headquarters and cities with population above 5 lakh will be covered under the second phase, given the importance of the two-wheeler and three-wheeler vehicle segments in growing cities.
    • The policy seeks a level playing field across business models involving the sale of EVs with fixed or swappable batteries.