Two full scale fire tests of an electric vehicle show that the lithium-ion battery pack self-ignites after a simulated car crash, with the car in dense smoke after 2 minutes and engulfed in flames in less than 10 minutes.
The cars used were a small Tata 4-door hatchback, rebuilt as electrical vehicles with a 12×30 cells, total 26 kWh, Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide cathode (NMC) Li-ion battery pack installed in a protective coating. In the first test the car was dropped from 20m height onto its rear, simulating a crash at c. 70 km/h. Smoke appeared from the battery immediately after the crash, with much dense smoke after 2 minutes. The battery started to burn after 6 minutes and the car was engulfed in flames after 9 minutes. In the second test, a small propane burner was placed under the car near the battery pack, and the car and battery caught fire after 10-12 minutes. After a first attempt to extinguish the fire after 14 minutes, using 100 litres of water, the car reignited. Some 550 litres of water were required to fully extinguish the car.
“Full scale EV fire test”, SP Sweden in collaboration with Skien Fire Department, Grenland Energy, University College of Southern Norway, A. Boe, SP Brandposten #55 2017 https://www.sp.se/en/units/risesafe/safety/fire/brandposten/Sidor/default.aspx