electric garage fire energica
Fast charger causes a fire in the Energica garage housing MotoE race bikes

Fire destroys electric race bikes

A fire that destroyed 18 Energica electric motorcycles for the upcoming MotoE series at five MotoGP events this year has inflamed concerns about electric vehicle fires.

The cause of the Energica blaze seems to be a short circuit in one of their charging units.

However, there are other causes for electric vehicle fires which have already plagued electric car company Tesla.

Some have caught fire in a crash, while others have ignited while being driven or being charged.

Electric fire Tesla
Tesla goes up in flames

Electric fires

Electric vehicles fires can be caused by impact, short-circuits, power surge, excessive discharge or heat.

They also cause special concerns for fire fighters.

Lithium batteries are obviously made with lithium which is highly flammable and stored in mineral oil.

While it is not toxic, it can cause nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness, muscle weakness, fatigue and a dazed feeling.

Electric vehicle and battery fires can also release sulphuric acid, carbon monoxide, copper and cobalt.

Fire fighters can’t douse the flames with water as the high voltage can cause an electric shock or electrocution.

Instead, they have to disconnect the power supply (usually an orange plug) and contain the fire to let it burn itself out.

Energica fire

Energica Ego race bike for electric MotoE World Cup adventure slicker electric bike race
Energica Ego electric race bike for the MotoE World Cup

It is now suspected the MotoE series, which was to start in May, will be delayed.

The incident occurred at the Jerez Circuit in Spain during the second full test for the Energica Ego bikes ahead of the season starter at the circuit in May.

No one was injured in the blaze, but a lot of gear, tools and computers were also destroyed.

MotoE is known as the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup and has 11 teams with 18 riders.

(Fire images from electrek.co)

  1. My understanding is that the Jerez fire started in a charging unit, believed to be a high current DC fast charger, to be used between races. This DC fast charging method is still in the developmental stage and, whilst disappointing for the fans and race teams, issues with this system is not unexpected. Let’s hope that the technology and the teams involved are able to rebuild and resume racing later in the season.

  2. When Lithium batteries catch fire they emit large amounts of hydrogen fluoride (HF) as well as phosphoryl fluoride (POF3). The release of hydrogen fluoride from a Li-ion battery fire can therefore be a severe risk and an even greater risk in confined or semi-confined spaces. This is from an article in Nature 2017 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-09784-z.

  3. Yup, ask Samsung about lithium ion batteries.
    Look up UPS Flight 6, a 747 cargo plane that was carrying lithium ion batteries in the hold which caught fire.
    Or ask Boeing about 787 Dreamliner lithium-ion battery issues.
    Lithium-ion batteries are a comparitivly new mass-market technology and they are tempting because of the light weight and good energy density. Highly reactive ingredients make for energy density. However, when the reaction gets out of control, run!

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