The recent fire incidents in electric vehicles have brought an important issue to focus – the need for heat management system for batteries. Since lithium ion batteries are ‘dangerous goods’ and they can catch fire for a variety of reasons, it is essential to have a decent Battery Thermal Management System. With more and more EVs coming into the market, it’s paramount that the safety aspect of these vehicles is not ignored. 

Recently, there have been reports from all over the country about electric vehicles catching fire. Two persons even lost their lives because of these incidents. This has brought back the dilemma in many people’s minds whether to go for an EV or stick with the ICE-based-vehicle. 

The EV industry virtually came to a halt when the Government intervened in the matter and ordered the EV manufacturers to either rectify their mistake or face a hefty fine, if found guilty. Manufacturers such as Ola Electric, Okinawa, and some others recalled and repaired thousands of their defective EV two-wheelers at no extra cost.

It must be noted that a lithium-ion battery can fail for a variety of reasons. It can fail if the battery pack sustains physical damage. The physical damage causes a short circuit in the battery pack, which results in fire. Lithium-ion batteries are classified as ‘dangerous goods’ because they can catch fire in a matter of minutes. As a result, the internal and external build quality of the battery pack must be of the highest calibre.

Lithium-ion batteries also need a decent heat management system. When an EV battery gets charged or discharged, energy is lost in the form of heat. That’s why it is essential for the battery packs to have an efficient heat management system. Energy losses are at their peak when the battery is charged with a DC fast charger. The Battery Management System (BMS) is responsible for cutting off the charging in case of overheating. 

Most two-wheeler EVs in India lack a Battery Thermal Management System (BTMS), which is why most fires have occurred in these vehicles. When these battery packs are repeatedly overcharged, they can catch fire. Overcharging sets off a chain reaction within the battery pack, resulting in fires and, in some cases, explosions. 

When an EV battery is used up to 70 per cent or 80 per cent of its capacity, it is said to be at the end of its life. Thermal runaway occurs when an EV battery is used beyond its end-of-life capacity. A battery pack, like a mobile phone, should have a smart BMS to track the battery condition of any specific EV. The BMS should send alert messages to the consumer when the battery is nearing the end of its life. Many of these fire incidents can be avoided and many lives can be saved if all these changes are implemented. 

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