Electric Scooters/Electric Vehicles are the futuristic alternative mobility, and the best solution to save money because of increasing fuel prices. But, are EVs suitable for Indian roads and climate conditions? Over the last 30 days there have been at least six reported incidents of two-wheeler electric scooters made by Pure EV, Okinawa and Ola are unexpectedly breaking out into flames, bringing in the fore safety issues related to such electric vehicles.
Electric Scooters/Electric Vehicles are equipped with lithium-ion batteries, of a kind widely used in cellphones and laptops, which are considered being light and efficient compared to their counterparts. However, they may also pose a fire risk, as evidenced by the recent events.
What is lithium ion battery, and how it works?
Nowadays, from electric vehicles to smartphones and laptops, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are the most prominent battery type, powering millions of consumer electronics round the globe. A Li-ion battery comprises a cathode, anode, electrolyte, separator, and two current collectors. The anode and cathode is where the lithium is stored, while the electrolyte transfers positively charged lithium ions from the anode to the cathode and vice versa through the separator. The development of the lithium ions creates free electrons in the anode, which forms a charge at the positive current collector.
The important factors that make a Li-ion battery better than other kinds, and suited for things like EVs, laptops and smartphones, are its lightweight, high energy density, and ability to recharge. Other than this, Li-ion batteries generally have a longer lifespan compared to other battery types. It can store 150 watts-hour per kg as compared to a lead-acid battery which stores hardly around 25 watts-hour per kg. It means that lithium ion batteries offer more efficiency compared to other battery types, which means an electric vehicle equipped with lithium ion batteries will have an excellent driving range, and laptops will last longer through the day.
According to a research, lithium ion batteries are of high energy density, that means these cells can become unstable in certain conditions, blocking functionality. Li-Ion batteries work best within a safe operating limit. A battery management system (BMS) applies to a Li-ion battery to make sure they operate safely.
What is the battery management system (BMS)?
Battery management system (BMS) is basically an electronic process that is connected to all the cells in a Li-ion battery pack, which regularly measure their voltage and the current flowing through it. BMS is also equipped with a multiple temperature sensors, providing it report on temperatures at various sections of the battery pack. All this data helps the battery management system (BMS) to calculate other parameters of the battery pack, like charging and discharging rate, efficiency, and battery life cycle.
(PURE EV recalled over 2000 vechiles for testing and recalibration.)
Why electric scooters catch fire?
According to experts, Electric Vehicles and electronic devices are combined with hundreds of batteries together in a battery pack. This means that even if a few batteries malfunction that cause a short circuit, it can kick-start a chain reaction resulting in a fire, given that a battery pack is squeezed with several Li-ion cells. This effect is known as thermal runway, this is the reason behind Li-ion batteries burst into flames instantly.
The actual reason behind is still unknown as the EV manufacturing companies are working to find out the reason behind the incidents which happened. Some companies claim that the electric scooters are short circuiting due to “negligence in charging the vehicle”.
Therefore, EV manufacturing companies should take enough time to work on design and the government body should increase the testing standards. As this is a new technology, one who is planning to buy an EV should consider reading/knowing the science and facts behind it, so that one can maintain it carefully with no mishaps.