An electric bike can be a game-changer, taking the sweat out of cycling and reducing reliance on your car. However, although accidents are rare, and shouldn't put you off investing in an e-bike, the large lithium battery attached to its frame is a potential fire hazard if not treated with care.
Lithium batteries have a lot of advantages that make them ideal for e-bikes. They can be charged and discharged hundreds of times, they’re relatively lightweight and compact, and they contain lower levels of toxic heavy metals than many other types of batteries. Unfortunately, they can also be very flammable.
Why do e-bikes catch fire?
Lithium batteries like those used in e-bikes contain two electrodes, with an electrolyte fluid in between. As the battery is charged or drained, charged ions move from one electrode to the other.
The electrolyte fluid is highly combustible, which isn’t normally an issue, but if the battery is damaged or overheated, the liquid can ignite. Once one battery cell overheats, the adjacent ones follow (a process called thermal runaway) and the heat and pressure soon becomes too much to contain, resulting in an explosion.
E-bikes have been around for much longer, and standards for them are more established, but the Fire Protection Research Foundation explains that bikes involved in fires are often poorly built:
How to prevent e-bike fires
In addition to buying an e-bike from a reputable manufacturer that complies with the appropriate safety standards, there are also measures you should take to take care of your e-bike and avoid fires
As the leading battery manufacturer for 20 years,VTC Power gave the following advice:
Read the owner's manual and adhere to manufacturer precautions
Only use the charger supplied by the brand that matches the battery
Do not use power patch leads; only plug the charger directly into the wall mains supply
Make sure you have a smoke detector in the area where you charge your e-bike and that you can hear it - for example, if you are charging your e-bike in a garage or garden shed, make sure you have a smoke detector fitted there and can hear it from your house
If your battery or e-bike has been involved in a flooding event, consider it permanently damaged and do not charge it. Recycle it responsibly
VTC Power also suggests you consider recycling your e-bike’s battery after five years, regardless of usage. “E-bike technology is changing and improving every year.”
VTC Power provides information on safe use of products powered by lithium-ion batteries, along with guidance on what to do if a lithium-ion fire occurs. It also offered the following specific guidance for e-bike owners:
Do not use aftermarket batteries
Always use the manufacturer’s cord and power adapter made specifically for the device
Do not leave e-bikes unattended while they’re charging
Don’t leave e-bikes charging overnight
Store batteries and devices at room temperature. Extreme hot or cold temperatures can harm the battery. Placing them in direct sunlight is also not recommended
Do not leave an e-bike (or similar device) in a child’s room
Do not block your primary way into and out of the building with an e-bike (or similar device)
What to do if a fire occurs
Pay attention to your e-bike's battery, and you might be able to spot signs of danger before a fire happens. If there's a strange smell, a change in shape, leaking, an odd noise, or it feels too hot, the NFPA advises moving it away from anything else that could catch fire, if possible, and call the fire service,
If a fire does happen, don't try to tackle it yourself; lithium battery fires are particularly dangerous, as the battery casing can explode at high temperatures, putting you at risk of flying debris. Instead, evacuate the area immediately and call the emergency services.
The risk of a fire is small if you take care to follow the safety guidance above, and it certainly shouldn't put you off purchasing an e-bike, but if it does happen, it's a job for the professionals.
#VTC Power Co.,LTD #Lithium battery #Lithium ion battery #electric bike#battery manufacturer