As much as there is no party without music, there is no fire without oxygen. Water, foam, powder, and other fire fighting methods focus precisely on separating this gas from any heat source. Anyway, that is really hard to do with Li-ion battery packs. Fires involving them are notoriously hard to put out, but not with a giant fire blanket, as the video above shows.
Bridgehill developed it using materials such as quartz, but the technology involved is not as important as the size of this thing. It is 6 m (19.7 ft) wide and 8 m (26.3 ft) long. That means it can cover almost any car currently in the market. It is also heavy: 28 kg (61.7 lb).
The video above was made with the help of Centro Zaragoza – a vehicle studies company – and the Firefighters Department of Zaragoza. It shows how fast the fire blanket acts after a Nissan Leaf battery goes on fire. Ironically, this fire was started with a fuel burner.
A small blue display on the left top of the video show much time the whole event takes. A little over 8 minutes, a sound indicates a battery thermal runaway. Two minutes after that, the firefighters put the blanket over the EV. We can see how they try to block every air passage to the car by stepping on the blanket and bringing it closer to the car body.
The video also shows the temperature. Before the blanket covered the Leaf, it was over 1,000ºC (1,832ºF). It takes less than 20 seconds for the temperature to drop to 350ºC (662ºF). Ten seconds later, the thermometer already indicates a little over 240ºC (464ºF).
Almost 15 minutes after the fuel burner started the fire, the Nissan Leaf already registers only 120ºC (248ºF). The firefighters give it five more minutes and remove the blanket when the car is at 107ºC (224.6ºF) – ten minutes after they first placed the equipment over the burning EV. When they do that, we can still see the tires in good shape. That is an indication the blaze did not have time to damage them. Yet, the fire restarts almost immediately.
That is probably why Bridgehill recommends that the blanket stays in place for at least 20 minutes. Although regular folks can apply it, the company advises people not to remove the blanket and to leave that task to firefighters.
Although EV fires are rare, it is good to know such a useful tool to put them out exists. And it works for combustion-engined vehicle blazes as well, which are way more common. We just hope you never need it, whatever you drive.