No short circuits: On electric vehicles catching fire 

News: Recently, the Union government announced the constitution of an expert panel to investigate the causes of the Li-ion battery explosions in a number of incidents of burning of the electric vehicle (EV). Further, a few manufacturers have recalled batches of electric scooters after some caught fire.  

Status of EV Sector in India 

EVs have increasingly become a viable transportation device. According to Vahan database, there are 11 lakh electric/battery-operated vehicles registered in India.  

What are the factors that have led to increased utilisation of EVs?  

The significant reduction in costs of lithium-ion batteries. The costs have fallen by an estimated 89% since 2010.  

The governments have incentivised the shift to EVs in wake of the climate change concerns. 

The manufacture of electric vehicle (EV) for commercial use has undergone an acceleration. In addition, a number of indigenous companies manufacturing EV have mushroomed in the Indian market.  

What are the causes of fire in the EV? 

The Li-ion battery in the electric vehicles (EV) may catch fire due to the convergence of heat, oxygen and fuel. 

Way Forward 

The Li-ion battery packs that form the core of the technology, are sophisticated devices and there should be no compromise on the inbuilt safeguards. The controlled manufacturing of batteries is specifically required to prevent such incidents. 

There should be absence of “shoddy engineering” and “cutting corner approaches” in the manufacturing of Li-ion batteries and the electric vehicles.  

The manufacturers can go for long-term changes in Li-ion batteries such as the use of solid-state electrolytes, special safety switches, thermal management solutions that prevent accidental shorting of the cells, etc.  

The manufacturers and regulators must ensure that testing and certification standards related to battery management systems are met in existing Electric Vehicle (EV) systems and supply chains.  

The Union Ministry of Transport has announced to issue guidelines for EVs which would include tests for compliance with specific safety norms 

Source: The post is based on an article “No short circuits: On electric vehicles catching fire” published in The Hindu on 03rd Mar 2022. 

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