Now This is interesting…

It fits the profile. Charging at 4:15 AM. Total destruction of both cars and the garage, melted the doorknob off the door to the garage it was so hot.

What is interesting is that Storm Connors Suzuki Samarai uses flood lead acid batteries. I have never gotten a lead acid to burn. Blew the end off a few, but the electrolyte is 90% water and they just don’t burn.

The other car was a new Chevy Volt. LG Chem batteries. Our first VOLT fire?

More news: http://www.wfsb.com/news/27541598/detail.html

UPDATE: Apparently, days AFTER the fire was put out, the charred Chevrolet Volt AGAIN reignited in the already burned out garage. Here on AUTOBLOG

Chevrolet spokesmen have been howling that it is NOT the volt that caused it and urging everyone to NOT jump to conclusions. I wonder what the latest hasty conclusions might be….

http://EVTV.me

30 thoughts on “Now This is interesting…”

  1. I hesitate to speculate but the cars themselves look to have been cooked at a lower temperature than appears to have been the case in some Li – overcharge fires. One possible overcharge-explosion-fire scenario with flooded lead acid is the overcharge causing gassing and the gas being ignited by a stray spark.

  2. Yes, that is one scenario. Have you ever seen hydrogen burn John?

    It’s a light blue flame with an incredible escape velocity and almost no heat.
    It shoots straight up. You can blow the end off a lead acid battery with hydrogen escaping, but you won’t even know it was burning. It almost has to be in the dark to see the flame.

    You’ll not convince me flooded lead acids did this. Either he upgraded his cells recently, or I’m betting on the volt. The garage was clearly well built with great firewalls, the guy was a firefighter.

    This is interesting….

  3. Considering the small amount of EV’s around, I am starting to feel alarmed at the amount of fires being reported. This might turn out to be a bigger hurdle than battery life and range anxiety put together.
    Am I over reacting??

    Mark

  4. Had they many problem with the LGs in preproduction? I remember Lutz saying they had problems with the cell conections in the biggining.

    On the other hand, could it have been dogdy old wiring in the garage?

    Suspiciously, it’s a lot like other fires where we know it was the battery (Li), or mis-“management”.

  5. Padraic:

    I do not have any evidence of the batteries ever causing a fire by themselves. In all cases, except the Santa Rosa fire, they were charging. In the end, I think we’ll find they were charging too.

    Jack Rickard

  6. Jack. I wasn’t suggesting the batteries spontaniously went up in flames. But that’s my fault, I phrased it very badly. Perhaps a short occured while charging if it was the Volt. Perhaps it was the Ni batteries (overcharging).

    what are the chances of finding any evidence? It’s gone up in smoke – – quite literally.

  7. Gee, I wonder what could it have been? From Storm’s blog:

    “I keep a wary eye on the thermometers, but they have stayed under 90. Charging is another matter. My charger is programmed for lead acid. It doesn’t want to turn off! I am hoping that when the cooling system is operational all will be well. Until then, I have to watch the heat buildup very carefully.”

    JR

  8. Another possibility… He had two EVs, were they both charging at once on the same circuit? Too much current through the line, line heats up and burns, garage burns, cars burn.

    Chuck

  9. Somehow I do recall a lot farm machinery go up in smoke with just lead acid starting battery to blame and plenty of shoddy maintenance.
    Jack’s demonstration of how to melt a perfectly good battery into modern art speaks volumes to me.
    So my money is on overcharging because seeing is believing. Keep it simple, would be a good EV motto.

  10. We can keep on guessing until the cows come in for milking.

    For all we know he had an overheated charger with boxes of materials on top.

    But what we do know is we had a double EV fire. The statistics are horrendous even with lead acid batteries. We have to get to grips with this folks or EV’s will be tied up by Gov’t red tape and/or clauses/exclusions in insurance will make them impracticable.

  11. “…We have to get to grips with this folks or EV’s will be tied up by Gov’t red tape and/or clauses/exclusions in insurance will make them impracticable…”

    Would it work to establish a norm that EV battery packs are equipped with an independent temperature monitor that shuts everything off if it isn’t happy with the temperature readings? Presumably even Brusa chargers could one day fail to shut off?

  12. Hey he said on his BLOG:
    “I decided to try a “bad boy” charger. A bridge rectifier is connected to the 120V AC with the battery pack connected to the + and – of the rectifier. This bridge rectifier is about an inch square and consists of 4 diodes connected such that the AC is converted to DC. It works out to about 160V of pulsating DC. It can be used to charge batteries from 96V up to about 144V. 144V won’t fully charge. This is certainly not a recommended safe practice.”

  13. Charging NiMh in silver pained plywood battery boxes while having a overheating problem during charging. Charging from an outlet with nothing more than a bridge rectifier bolted to some aluminum sheet and perhaps a timer. I can see why he a nice firewall between his garage and house. -Klaus

  14. I wonder if it’s smart to make a blog post about a weird charging experiment you are doing. I just hope his insurer doesn’t read his blog.

    “I recommend that you have a timer that will shut off the power when you expect the battery pack will be fully charged. If you don’t have a timer, set an alarm clock to remind you to turn it off. I use the alarm on my cell phone to remind me to check on them every couple hours.”

    …Anyway I hope he gets them to pay out.

  15. It would appear that the Chevy Volt REIGNITED and started burning AGAIN in the same spot where they left it. I would have assumed GM would have come and whisked that baby away within fifteen minutes. Instead, it apparently just sat there in the garage, and reignited.

    This is just too precious to be real…..

    Jack

  16. Yes. GM does NOT want anyone JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS. But twice now they have announced that the Volt was probably NOT the cause of the fire, errr…two fires.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. All we need is a second badly done Suzuki fire to confirm it wasn’t the Volt.

    Charging should not be a violent act. We’ll reserve judgement until we see if any more Volts spring into spontaneous combustion a couple or three times.

    We’ve tracked many BMS related fires. Never had one burn TWICE in the same week.

    Jack Rickard

  17. We had an electrician install two 30 amp circuits in our garage for charging the car he had to run a heaver gauge wire as well. I wanted to have a licensed electrician do it for insurance. I have also install another smoke alarm in the garage. I think I’m going to install a timer that cuts off 6 – 8 hours automatically too.

  18. Latest news:

    “Fire Marshal William Baldwin on Thursday said investigations into the cause of the fire are ongoing. Homeowner Storm Connors, who has kept a blog chronicling a hybrid car he built before acquiring the Volt, wrote on his blog that investigators from the state, GM, an insurance company and the national auto safety board all concluded that the Volt did not start the blaze. “

    http://www.rep-am.com/articles/2011/04/29/news/local/doc4dbab000bf52f994510505.txt

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