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July 17, 2023
Charred remains of e-bikes and scooters sit outside of a building in Chinatown after four people were killed by a fire in an e-bike repair shop overnight on June 20, 2023, in New York City. Lithium-ion e-bike batteries have caused numerous fires and fatalities in recent years due to the rising popularity of e-bikes for delivery purposes.Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images News via Getty Images
As the world becomes increasingly reliant on battery-powered devices, from electric vehicles to portable electronics, the issue of battery safety has never been more critical. Concerns over battery safety seem to be coming to a head, highlighted by a recent incident at General Motors' Ultium plant where workers reportedly refused to work due to fears over battery safety. And the City of New York has reported that fires caused by batteries that power e-bikes increased from 44 in 2020 to 220 in 2022. These news items underscore the urgent need for improved safety measures in the battery industry.
Battery fires are unfortunately becoming increasingly common and often can have devastating consequences. Due to their chemical and electrical makeup, battery fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish and can result in significant property damage, injury, and even loss of life. The root cause of these fires often lies in the very nature of the batteries themselves, as they store large amounts of energy in a small space. If this energy is released uncontrollably, it can lead to a fire or explosion. A common example of this is thermal runaway where an increase in temperature changes the conditions in a way that causes a further increase in temperature, leading to a destructive result.
In response to these challenges, the battery industry is investing heavily in research and development to improve the safety of its products. Academics and engineers alike are exploring a variety of strategies, from new materials and designs that can prevent thermal runaway, to advanced monitoring systems that can detect and mitigate potential problems before they lead to a fire.
This piece will look at different ways that the battery industry is addressing the pertinent issue of battery fire safety. Read on to learn about 7 different techniques battery developers are investigating for preventing battery fires.
About the Author(s)
Jake Hertz is an Electrical Engineer, Technical Writer, and Public Relations Specialist. After he received his M.S. and B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Rochester, he spent three years working as an Electrical Engineer at MakerBot Industries.
As a writer, Jake is well known for his frequent contributions to various engineering websites, where he has garnered readership in the tens of thousands. Through his business, NanoHertz Solutions, Jake works with cutting-edge companies in the hardware and semiconductor space to build industry buzz and awareness through Public Relations and Technical Writing services.
As an engineer, Jake now works with numerous startups to help develop their hardware products. He is also a Co-Founder of Origin Labs, a NYC-based design firm for tech startups in the hardware space.
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