electric vehicle battery explosion

How electric vehicle battery explodes? Fully explained

The electric vehicle penetration has taken a large leap in the past few years globally. But the issues with electric vehicles have come along with it and now many electric vehicle enthusiasts and/or adopters are raising their concerns about these issues and demanding solutions. One of the most trending and as well as serious problems with EVs is “The Battery Explosion”. Because this problem is directly related to the “life of people” it must be taken very seriously its solution should be prioritized. Now to solve any problem, first, we need to understand it properly.
In this article, we’ll understand “How the electric vehicle battery explodes” and what are all the safety measures that one should take care of to avoid the battery explosion.

Let’s first understand the electric vehicle battery.

Understanding an EV battery through the scientific lens:

Understanding EV battery

Those of you who don’t like the bookish language, don’t worry I will try to keep it as simple as possible.

So before talking about electric vehicles specifically let’s first understand a “battery”. The battery is made up of cells and cells are nothing more than an object which is filled with a particular form of energy, and as all of you may know “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed” but it can convert its form. In a battery, the energy is stored in form of electricity (movement of ions), which race between two oppositely charged electrodes separated by a “separator”. Further when we talk about the types of battery ie. lead-acid and lithium-ion the only difference between both of them is their energy density. When one ion of li-ion battery transfers from anode to cathode or cathode to anode it carries nearly 3 times more energy than the lead-acid battery.

Now if we see an electric vehicle battery it usually has enough capacity (amount of energy stored) so that it can run a complete house with its power for 3-4 days without any hassle, i.e. an electric vehicle battery contains a lot of energy which is enough to cause dangerous damage to the rider or nearby people.

How Batteries explodes:

So till now, we understood about the batteries, but our main focus is how do they explode or why do batteries catch fire. Let deep dive into it.

   Now first we need to understand that an explosion doesn’t necessarily require an exorbitant amount of energy. Yes, you read it right, the explosion doesn’t necessarily require a great amount of energy but what it takes is the least time frame to release every small amount of energy stored inside. For example, a ‘Li-ion battery stores 1kWh of storage capacity, it will be self-sufficient for combustion if all of that 1kWh is made to release in few seconds.

Now as of before let’s discourse about the battery explosion at a smaller frame. Let’s take a smartphone battery and before talking about its explosion let’s see its components. So every battery has an anode, cathode, and a separator in common and if an explosion takes place it happens due to these three components only. 
So, what happens is the separator which separates both the anode and cathode but let their ions transfer only, breaks or damage and finally, the shortcircuit takes place which further leads to an explosion.

When we specifically talk about EV batteries the major cause of the explosion of batteries is their “Separator”. The main application of the separator is to keep the material of both anode and cathode away but continue the transfer of ions feasibly. But as market demand and technological advancements happening it happened to make the separator thinner and more thinner. However, a separator lasts very-very long but in such conditions, even a single mishandling with the battery can lead to permanent damage to the battery. 
Let’s elaborate more, the separator is delicate and sensitive to any external pressure or internal chemical misbalance. While charging the battery expands (a very little) and when discharged it compresses (a very little) and it creates pressure on the separator and the separator may fail and the moment the separator fails the anode and cathode come into contact which leads to shortcircuit. As shortcircuit happen it creates permanent damage inside the battery and slowly-slowly it releases all its electrical energy into heat and chemical energy and due to this, the explosion takes place.

Now as we came to a conclusion that the failure of the separator is the reason behind the failure of a battery, we will figure out the potential reason behind the damage of the separator.
Mainly there are two reasons that impact the separator i.e. electrical instability and external shocks which can give potential damage to a thin separator. We will understand both phrases separately, electrical instability occurs when the battery is being charged or discharged more than the rated capacity. Whenever you buy any rechargeable battery you will surely see rated Undervoltage and overvoltage but if the battery exceeds these ratings while charging, the separator will surely damage.
External shock including accident, battery falling from a certain height, stretch and buries, etc. external shocks may not damage the battery immediately but after a certain period is will explode or cause heavy damage.

What causes electric vehicle batteries to explode:

As we know the two potential reasons for battery explosion let’s now understand in what conditions it happens.
Internal electrical misbalance: If an electric vehicle goes through deep discharge and overcharging cycles more often it has more chances to face an explosion! But what happens exactly when batteries go through these deep charging-discharging cycles why would lose their capabilities, let’s elaborate more on it.
While overcharging it gets heat up and the thin separator gets highly affected by the heat energy which directly damages the separator and causes the explosion. 
While deep discharging, the anodic and cathodic reactions create crystal-like material around the separator, and when the same battery is allowed to charge the till the same capacity it creates more heat inside the battery which damages the separator.

External shocks: In an electric vehicle the accident will definitely result in an explosion, as the battery separator is highly volatile to the external shocks, and accidents. It usually is extremely thin and can’t resist any shocks. 

So this was the complete article on battery explosion have tried covering every aspect and make it understand to everybody out there. Hope you loved the article please share this article with your friends and loved ones.

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4 thoughts on “How electric vehicle battery explodes? Fully explained”

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