Thermal runaway in batteries, including those used in electric vehicles, is considered a more significant risk in hot climates.
Thermal runaway is a chain reaction within a battery that causes it to overheat, potentially leading to fire or explosion.
High temperatures can exacerbate the conditions leading to thermal runaway for several reasons.
Reasons for thermal runaway during high temperatures
In hot climates, ambient temperatures can rise to levels that contribute to the internal heating of the battery.
When a battery operates or charges in a high-temperature environment, it can increase the internal temperature, pushing it closer to the point where thermal runaway might occur.
Reduced cooling efficiency
Batteries rely on efficient cooling systems to maintain an optimal temperature range.
In hot climates, cooling systems might struggle to dissipate heat effectively, potentially leading to overheating and thermal instability.
High temperatures can accelerate chemical reactions within the battery, which can contribute to the breakdown of the internal components and increase the likelihood of thermal runaway.
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Reduced battery lifespan
Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can degrade the overall health and lifespan of the battery, potentially making it more susceptible to thermal runaway.
Sixty percent of electric vehicle battery fire accidents are caused by the thermal runaway of the battery itself, 30% are charging accidents, and only about 3.6% are due to collisions in driving accidents. Source: Electric vehicle battery fires, thermal runaway is the main reason
If you live in the tropics, there are 10 things that you can do to avoid thermal runaway happening to you.
10 Things to do to avoid thermal runaway
Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for the EV, including battery inspections. Regular check-ups can help identify potential issues before they become problematic.
Avoid extreme temperatures
Limit the exposure of the EV to extreme temperatures. Parking in shaded areas or garages can help regulate the internal temperature of the battery, reducing the risk of overheating.
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Be aware of the state of the battery. Monitoring the battery’s health through the vehicle’s dashboard or available apps can help detect any anomalies or signs of potential issues with the battery.
Follow proper charging practices recommended by the manufacturer. Avoid fast charging excessively, especially in high temperatures, as rapid charging generates more heat, potentially stressing the battery.
Ensure the EV’s software is up to date. Manufacturers often release updates to improve battery management systems and safety features, reducing the risk of thermal issues.
Have a plan in place in case of a thermal event. Familiarize yourself with the EV’s safety features and know-how to respond in case of an emergency. For example, understanding how to safely disconnect the power source in such a situation.
Use of thermal insulation
Consider utilising insulating materials, such as sunshades for windows or specialised covers, to protect the vehicle from excessive heat when parked in direct sunlight.
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Proper driving habits
Aggressive driving, especially in high temperatures, can stress the battery. Drive conservatively to reduce unnecessary strain on the battery and overall vehicle systems.
Keep up to date with any manufacturer recalls, safety alerts, or recommendations related to the specific make and model of the EV. These updates might contain crucial information to prevent or manage potential thermal issues.
It’s important to note that while these steps can help mitigate the risk, thermal runaway is a rare occurrence. Manufacturers continuously work on improving the safety and durability of EV batteries, but being proactive in maintaining and caring for your EV can further reduce the likelihood of such incidents.
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