Electric cars re-ignite a full week after flood damage

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No large lithium-ion battery pack is designed for long-term submersion in salt water.

According to media reports, the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Florida, USA, last week still seem to be mounting. Amongst the widespread destruction, EVs are now starting to spontaneously explode into flames all around the state. These latent fires are attributed to the mixture of electricity and salt water.

Reports suggest, no large lithium-ion battery pack is designed for long-term submersion in salt water. This, along with lithium's inherent volatility, makes dousing an EV fire an arduous process. Even when the flames are completely extinguished and the batteries are doused with water and foam, the fire can still re-ignite itself.

The reason for the fire is that saltwater corrodes the wires and the battery components, causing exposed wiring or a short, which even with a small spark could turn into a raging fire. This eventually results in a thermal runaway igniting the entire battery pack. Some departments quarantine EVs for 24 hours or submerge them in fresh water to stop re-ignition.

Reports state that while the problem could happen on almost all EVs, the focus has been on Tesla only because of their sheer number of sales compared to other EV brands.

Jimmy Patronis, a Florida State Fire Marshall, shared a letter on Twitter, calling flood-affected cars "ticking time bombs" in the caption. The letter asks federal regulators to share information about the risk posed by EVs in floods to first and second responders, while also asking if the EV companies are communicating these potential dangers to their customers.

Source: Road&Track / News Nation

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