Dafo Vehicle Fire Protection has helped build a fire protection system tailored for operations using electric or hybrid vehicles as part of an EU-funded program.
In partnership with RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Dafo explored different techniques to detect potential battery failure, as early as possible, and take immediate action to stop, or delay, a potentially hazardous situation.
The partners studied the various fire risks related to batteries, including specific risks when charging, and procedures for handling electric vehicles and batteries after a crash. They also investigated to what extent fixed and integrated fire suppression systems, which are widely used to protect combustion engine compartments on heavy vehicles, can be applied to vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries, and how they should be designed.
“With the rapid introduction of electric and hybrid electric vehicles in public transport, there are new challenges because they present totally different risk scenarios,” Anders Gulliksson of Dafo Vehicle (pictured), Coordinator of the EU-funded Li-IonFire (Automated e-vehicle Lithium Ion Battery Early Warning and Fire Suppression System) project, said.
Through extensive testing, the Li-IonFire team better understood how a breakdown occurs within the battery and how it can be detected.
“If a system is activated at this early stage, the battery can be ‘brought back’ to a safe state, without the fire developing further,” Gulliksson explained.
“The tests have also shown that even with a late deployment of the fire suppression system, there’s a possibility of delaying the battery reaching a critical state, meaning that the chance of safe evacuation is very high.”
With proper detection and system activation, the hazardous scenario can be reversed and potentially even stopped entirely, according to Dafo.
The project team has, it says, successfully validated and demonstrated a highly innovative fire protection system for electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The new system provides an early fire warning system, and spot cooling to prevent thermal runaway while localising and suppressing fire.
The system was officially unveiled in 2019 and has generated tremendous interest from both end users and vehicle manufacturers, according to Dafo.
“Li-IonFire delivers to the market a product that didn’t exist until now; a system that can offer real protection against battery fires, using a new suppression agent, Forrex EV™, which is specifically developed for these applications,” concluded Gulliksson.
“Li-IonFire will significantly boost the safety of operators and the protection of valuable assets.”
It will be available from September 1, 2020, the company says.