Watch This Tiny Tesla Princess Car Catch Fire On Camera

NOV 23 2018 BY DOMENICK YONEY 94

Lithium batteries are not toys.

Rich Benoit of Rich Rebuilds fame had started an awesome new project with his friend, Lee. They had found a sort of princess parade car and decided to convert it to run on battery power. Specifically, Tesla battery power. Nicknamed Daisy, that project has now been put on permanent hold. The reason, as you may have guessed by the video above, is because the cells that were supposed to give it life instead brought a flaming death. Luckily, no one was hurt and the whole episode was caught by multiple cameras.

The footage underlines the danger of repurposing lithium batteries. In this case, they hadn’t been connected to a management system and something triggered a thermal runaway. Though we’ve yet to get a complete post-mortem, typically this sort of “impressive” firework display is triggered by overcharging cells or a physically damaging them, causing them to short out.

Reportedly, a total of six fire extinguishers were used to help contain the blaze before the fire department arrived to take over. As you can see, cells popped out of the modules and launched skyward creating a danger zone that extended far beyond the princess-mobile. We can only hope the dramatic footage serves as a warning to those who would attempt similar projects without a strong knowledge of how to properly manage lithium batteries.

To see how this whole unfortunate episode began, we’ve included (below) an earlier episode involving the unique vehicle. Though obviously concerning, the situation hasn’t dampened Benoit’s enthusiasm for future projects. He’s currently trying to open his own garage to continue his scrapped Tesla resuscitation work.

Source: YouTube

Categories: Tesla, Videos

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94 Comments on "Watch This Tiny Tesla Princess Car Catch Fire On Camera"

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chris

C’mon guys, this is NOT funny – imagine this happining during off-hours when noone was in the shop – the hole thing would have burned down!
And that guy is just now collecting money on crowdfunding to start his own EV shop? Yeah – talking about bad timing

Nix

Well, the shop probably would have burned down, just like any number of automotive repair shop fires that are common and happen all the time. Heck, just a couple of days ago there was one where people were injured. Anytime you store energy, there is risk of the catastrophic release of that energy.

https://www.autobodynews.com/index.php/northeastern/item/16683-man-burned-woman-rescued-from-parks-township-pa-auto-body-shop-fire.html

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F150 Brian

So does anyone know the reason for the failure?
What can happen is that the cells get out of balance, so to get a series of cells to the desired voltage (48V, 60V or whatever) it pushes an individual cell beyond it’s max (about 4.2V for Lithium Ion).
I use Chevy Volt modules (3p12s) – I test the “cells” individually to ensure that they are near the same voltage (i.e. balanced). After a year of use in a solar power system, the cells are actually more balanced than when I got them.
Tesing is easy when there are only 12 per module, and a commercial charger with built in balancer can be had for under $400. Can’t image how they’d safely deal with a module that has so many small cells.

BoltEV (was SparkEV)

Were they charging the car? Video seem to show the car just sitting there not attached. If the fire started just by sitting there, BMS would not help.

Nix

You can see a cord going into the car at 3:11, and then after an edit in the video at 3:14, you can see the plug on the floor at his feet, and the cord is gone.

I don’t think we will ever hear the truth of what started the fire from the guys who added oxygen to a battery fire by blowing on it hoping it would go out…

zzzzzzzzzz

Don’t leave your Li Ion charging unattended without smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. At least it will wake you up and allow to escape.
Otherwise people just loose consciousness from CO and other toxic gases before waking up.

BoltEV (was SparkEV)

I hope you’re right. It’ll be really bad if the battery caught fire just by sitting there. And if they were charging without BMS, OMG, what a bunch of marooooons!

Pushmi-Pullyu

Yes, it’s absolutely astounding (to me, at least) that anyone associated with Rich Rebuilds would charge a li-ion battery pack without using a BMS. I thought those guys had at least some idea of what they were doing! Bad enough to do that with consumer grade li-ion cells, but to do it with Tesla cells (which lack some safety features built into consumer grade cells; features intended to prevent thermal runaway events) is almost begging for exactly the sort of disaster seen here!

This is the kind of mistake I’d expect from a rank amateur, not from a shop with a history of customizing and rebuilding EVs.

Long story short: WTF?!?!

Matthew Kennel

Perhaps they were used to using Lithium Phosphate cells which are less finicky though lower energy density.

antrik

The Model S modules actually only have 6 cell groups each. The number of cells in parallel in each group is totally irrelevant.

Diego

The NCA cells like the ones used by Tesla should never be used without a battery management system and a thermal management system. NCA cells are not for hobbyists due to low thermal runaway threshold; one cells gets too hot (~150 C) and a fire will start. NCM811 cells will probably behave in a similar way.
The cells in the Volt have lower energy density and higher thermal runaway threshold, but you still have to be careful.

Jopp

Balancing should be used all the time, not only once and you must monitor every single cell (except those in parallel of course). Aging/voltage drifts of cells can occur quite fast, when cells get old.

Terawatt

Oops. You’re not supposed to use powder on a battery fire. Contrary to what many imagine, using a fire hose to put lots of water onto the thing is the best way to contain such a fire. Seawater would be a very bad idea, since the salt makes it conduct electricity fairly well, but freshwater doesn’t have that problem. 🙂

You can’t really strangle a battery fire, because the energy fuelling it isn’t coming from combustion. That’s why powder isn’t effective — with battery fires it’s all about trying to cool it down, to slow down the chemical reactions and “discharge” the pack a bit more slowly. Use loads of water, and keep it coming for hours even if there’s no longer any visible fire. Cooling everything down just makes it happen more slowly and less violently, but if you stop cooling it with water before the energy is spent, it will heat up again, which speeds the reactions and makes it heat up yet more, and soon it’ll burst into flames again…

Powder can put out the flames, but since the main heat source just keeps going it quickly reignites, again and again.

Scott

Unless you mean de-ionized water, fresh water, such as water from a lake, or the tap, conducts electricity more than well enough to kill a person.

Andy

Doesn’t matter. You can use every kind of fresh water to extinguish the battery fire. You just need a lof of water.

Jopp

Please explain, what path the current will take, when water is used, and how a person is involved in that current path.

Water is the only available substance with sufficient capacity to manage the heat of these battery fires.

REXisKing

Would not cooling the battery help?

Bill Howland

Yeah these “s and x” style batteries always scare me. Shrapnel off the walls, hitting the fire truck, plus banging off the ceiling along with all that smoke explains why Tesla battery fires and people seldom fare well. Just what everyone needs – projectiles coming from under the car.

Vexar

So… you like prismatic cells, then? I don’t get your manufacturer concern.

BoltEV (was SparkEV)

Not sure what Bill means, but to me, each metal cylinder becomes “barrel” where expanding gas can eject material. Having hundreds or thousands of them is much worse than few dozen prismatics in terms of flying “bullets”.

Nix

flying “bullets”? WTF?? That’s unneeded drama. That’s like calling firecrackers “bullets” because they also explode.

The dude putting out the fire was hit straight in the chest with one and suffered zero injury. Not exactly anything like a “bullet” at all.

The last thing EV’s need is silly talk like this, equating a battery cell to a “bullet”. I expect that junk from some gas-hole ICE fanatic who is trying to bash EV’s. It is silly hyperbole in this context.

BoltEV (was SparkEV)

Hot metal ejected from round cylinder from expanding hot gas is a “bullet”, exactly like ammo would behave in case of fire. It doesn’t have the energy of being contained in gun barrel, but it is contained in metal “shell”, exactly like how the “bullet” flew out of the battery to hit the guy. There’s no guarantee the next one won’t be more energetic.

Gas-hole or not, I tell it like it is. “Bullet” hit the guy from improperly handled battery on fire. Yes, it’s improper since they are repurposing Tesla battery for something it wasn’t meant to do.

Nix

“Hot metal ejected from a round cylinder from expanding hot gas” is also the description of a piston after the spark plug fires in a gas engine.

That doesn’t make it a bullet either. Sorry you are unable/unwilling to back down on your hyperbole.

Batteries aren’t bullets.

BoltEV (was SparkEV)

Spark plug does not eject from gas engine in fire. But if the whole engine blew up and sent shrapnel, it’d be a bomb. People draw bomb comparison for exploding gassers like they used to do for Pinto.

Battery under fire behave exactly like ammo, whether you think that’s hyperbole or not is irrelevant. People will draw that comparison as they have with Pinto and bomb in the past.

Nix

The piston is shot down the cylinder, forcing the crank to turn. Not the spark plug.

It still doesn’t make it a bullet. Sorry you are unable/unwilling to back down on your hyperbole.

Batteries aren’t bullets.

Pushmi-Pullyu

You’re being ridiculous, and you appear to be intentionally alarmist here. The gas pressure built up behind a bullet inside a gun barrel as a gun fires will be orders of magnitude greater than that would could be contained by a battery cell “can” before it would burst open along at least one of its three seams. Those seams absolutely guarantee the cell can’t possibly build up the kind of pressure inside that you’re talking about.

Aside from the very real danger of fire from Tesla cells “going off like firecrackers”, the only danger of injury from being hit by one would be if it hit you in the eye.

Jopp

Anyone, who is not aware of the danger, there are people, who died after the explosion of much smaller batteries, these guys were lucky:
https://www.morgenpost.de/vermischtes/article215157387/26-Jaehriger-stirbt-nach-Explosion-von-Akku-Ladegeraet.html

Vexar

Thanks, SparkEV. Can’t watch the video until I get home. Too remote this week. What Rich does is too much “regular guy” and not enough “electrical engineer” for my tastes. These are careless circumstances, so accidents are more likely. Not knowing how to extinguish the fire means Rich isn’t reading the built in manual/safety materials Tesla supplies. I couldn’t support starting a business as a donor or investor with someone this careless. His shop needs a deluge fire suppresion system.

Someguy

Rich wasn’t there and it’s not his shop. It’s Lee’s shop. Lee seems technically knowledgeable, but it’s not clear from watching the previous videos that he knows anything about lithium battery charging or safety. He might, but it’s not clear that he does. The evidence of the fire suggests he doesn’t.

Bill Howland

What I mean is that Tesla unfortunately holds the record for the most catastrophic fires and deaths among 2 year old cars – much more dangerous than the typical ICE vehicle of the same age, and much more dangerous than other EVs. The Fbi agent’s death in 2016 in Indianapolis had parts of the car blown 150 yards away, including the entire front axle which was hurled OVER driving ICE cars in the street.

The BMS and any other ‘Tesla Feature’ didn’t help things here, since the Fire Dept said they were hindered by the ‘intense heat’.

Too bad Pushi and his sidekick nix weren’t there to Save the Day.

The moniker Superdope doesn’t really begin to describe the silly comments he’s made.

By the way, smoke detectors typically work in a REAL fire situation 45% of the time, of those that have commercial power and/or battery backup; I’ve explained why previously.

For those who are number – challenged, it means MOST of the time they are useless.

Nix

Yet again, you are moronically pretending that the battery had something to do with where the front axle ended up, instead of the force of the accident due to the high speed the vehicle was traveling.

Sadly, you know this is false, and there was no massive battery explosion that hurtled the front axle. But that doesn’t stop your childish revisionist history. Your repeated intentional ignorance really just shows how intellectually dishonest you are.

Nix

“record for the most catastrophic fires and deaths among 2 year old cars”

Do you actually have any facts to back that up? BMW just recalled 1.6 million cars because brand new ICE cars were bursting into flames. Dozens of brand new parked cars just bursting into flames

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us56c7yQAYY

But don’t let anything like facts get in the way of your childish little rants. You were bvtt hvrt about wearing out your rear tires too fast on a decade old Tesla performance car that they don’t even make anymore. We get it. Get over it already.

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Nix

17 seconds in everyone (but you) can clearly see that there is no cover or case on top of the cells. Cells aren’t going to go blowing through the bottom of the battery case when the battery is mounted into a vehicle like you claim.

Since you are completely unable to actually address any facts or use logic or reason, I look forward to your mindless thought-free response, as usual.

zzzzzzzzzz

I hope they will not leave these burnt cells in the barrel overnight without water. Most of such Li Ion car fires tend to reignite again for days after initial fire.

Clive

That barrel is actually a great place for them to be.

antrik

“Most”. Right. Let’s just make things up. Whatever fits your hydrogen scam agenda.

Dave100e

No he’s right, whatever his agenda. You can put the fire out but it’s likely to re-ignite. I’ve seen it first hand several times.

Nix

IF the battery pack is properly discharged, after being fully doused in water, the chance of re-ignition is low.

Every EV maker provides instructions to first responders on how to discharge the battery pack. When you personally saw a battery fire re-ignite, did you also personally see the proper steps be taken to discharge the pack?

antrik

Well, if they scare you, maybe don’t mishandle them like these guys… Or tear them to pieces by driving into a concrete wall at >100 mph — which is the only situation ever where people were actually injured by a Tesla battery fire.

MDEV

Sure you are a genius 50 gallons of gasoline are safer.

Impartial Observer

Oh, the humanity!

Ormond Otvos

This will happen more and more as “hot-rodders” try to build Tesla-Beaters.
There’s a strong Amurrican tradition of ignoring subtleties like battery balance while trying for a fast cheap car.

Mahesvara

WATCH the video from 3:10 to 3:14 with .25 speed……… notice the guy doesn’t have cable in the hands then suddenly had a cable in the hand……… it was edited out (courtesy of Morton on the Move)……… it was probably being charge…………. and withour BMS it was overcharge…………

Impartial Observer

It wouldn’t be a Tesla thread without a nutty conspiracy theory.

Nix

Clearly you didn’t even bother to go and watch the video and see for yourself that the video was very clearly edited.

This has nothing to do with any Tesla car any more than the battery explosion at the GM destructive testing facility a few years ago had anything to do with any GM car.

Pushmi-Pullyu

It wouldn’t be a Tesla thread without a Tesla basher trying to disrupt meaningful discussion.

Nix

You can see the plug that was in the wall suddenly magically appears on the ground at his feet at 3:14 into the video. The 2nd dog also magically transports itself forward in time/space at 3:14. Either they have a Cheshire dog, or they f’ed with the video.

They definitely had it plugged in and were charging.

Carl

you do understand how videos are made right? we edit for pacing and a half dozen other reasons. nothing secret or conspiracy about it

Pushmi-Pullyu

Nix isn’t the one suggesting it’s a conspiracy theory to claim (correctly) that the battery fire here followed (and probably was caused by) charging li-ion batteries without using a BMS system.

Nix

No BMS system AND no cooling system…. Even if they had the BMS alone, it would still be relying upon the cooling system to do its job.

Nix

Do you see the smoking gun that the car was plugged in or not?

antrik

Actually, the part where he pulls the plug from the wall is *not* edited out: it’s perfectly visible around 3:10, if you pay attention. The skip comes a few seconds after that. Doesn’t look like they were trying to hide it on purpose… Though they certainly could have mentioned it in the video.

Roy_H

As far as I can tell, the car was not plugged in, so not charging. Must have been current flowing somewhere. I would guess there was an unknown short somewhere drawing current. Maybe some scrap metal or filings got into the battery pack. It appears to be open and exposed.

Nix

They pull the plug out of the wall at 3:14 into the video. You can see the plug magically appear on the ground at his feet. There also clearly was some editing done right at that point in the video, because you can see one of the 2 dogs magically transport itself forward in space. Play at .25 speed and it becomes blatantly obvious.

Roy_H

Sharp eyes, Nix, so it was charging, and it looks to me that the plug was pulled out of the car, not the wall. I also wonder if they had coolant flowing for the batteries.

Gary

Thanks Nix for the pointer to play at .25 speed. (gear icon, youtube “settings”).
Before 3:13, one can see *one* cord on the ground going to the car,
and in the rectangular opening just to the right of the left front wheel fender there is a cord-like line. at 3:14 it disappears as the guy has turned to the left (like unplugging, but some motion is lost in the video jump Nix points out).
By 3:17 one can see a loop of cord near the car and a plug on the floor that wasn’t there before.
Seems pretty obvious it *was* plugged in and charging, and
as they admit in the video, no Battery Management System.
Hope they learned their lessons.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Mis-using Tesla cells in this manner is a shocking display of ignorance.

Tesla cells are made without certain safety features contained in consumer grade cells. Tesla can get away with using cells without these features (which makes them cheaper for Tesla to buy) because Tesla has some pretty good systems built into their battery packs to prevent thermal runaway.

Because of these missing safety features, Tesla cells should never, ever be repurposed for use in any battery pack without a BMS (Battery Management System) or without a liquid cooling system. The danger of that is clearly shown by the incident in this article.

rey

That my friends is why Tesla would rather you leave the servicing to approved Tesla service personel,+”danger HIGH VOLTAGE !”

Quiviran

It’s not combustion. Forget halon. It’s a chemical reaction, inside the cell, causing thermal runaway. Flood the overheating cells with lots of water to cool them down.

Doggydogworld

It is combustion.

You can’t extinguish it because oxygen separates out of the cathode and keeps feeding it.

Jopp

The thermal runaway (chain reaction) is caused by exothermic chemical decay inside the cells (self heating). It is not what anyone would call combustion. This temperature rise leads to further reactions.

When the temperature reaches a certain level, electrolytes are evaporated and mixed with gas from further decay processes, which afterwards combusts. That is the dangerous part.

You actually can extinguish it, when you manage to get the heat out of the cells to stop the decay (i.e. dump in water) and therefor the chain reaction.

notting

Did they try to break a speed or range record for such small parade cars?!
AFAIK/AFAICS, I doesn’t look like the hole battery pack was mounted to that parade car. So like others here I’d assume that there wasn’t the liquid cooling and/or BMS. Did they try to qualify for the Darwin Award?
I think that was too much battery capacity for such vehicles in the hands of incompetent people.

notting

William

This EVent will go down as the “Princess Car” cylindrical lithium battery cell fire, caused by wonton battery pack repurposing carelessness.

It just goes to show that back in the day, a good old fashioned spontaneous combustion buggy whip fire, would have been a whole easier manage, when the CarBque starts to flare up!

TeslaInvestors

Now let’s look at a hydrogen car fire, shall we?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IknzEAs34r0

Impartial Observer

So even 20 years ago they were able to engineer a HFCV that suffered no fire damage in a carbeque after burning up all its fuel. Impressive!

To my knowledge there have been no Toyota Mirai or Honda Clarity carbeques or fires. It appears that the Toyota and Honda engineers did a good job making HFCVs safe to fuel and safe in bad crashes.

Bill Howland

People I respect tell me hydrogen’s flammability as far as cars go is in the ball park with Gasoline cars, which obviously can be made very safe. To my knowledge not one Gen 1 Volt fatality in normal driving – not even the Gen 2 Volt can claim that. And Gas station fire suppression systems have been EXCELLENT for decades now.

The danger with Hydrogen in my opinion is back at the Dispensary. Very large volumes of 15,000 PSI piping and storage tanks that under the wrong conditions will act like Rockets and Bombs, – even if H2 was inert like He.

TeslaInvestors

This is incorrect. The stored and pipe lined hydrogen are nto in high pressure. The compression happens at the pump. That’s how either 350 abr or 700 bar ( 5000 psi ro 10000 psi) hydrogen is pumped into the car. All stations have both H35 and H70 nozzles.
T Linde stations actually store in chilled H2 liquid form that is vaporized, then compressed to desired pressure.
https://whyhydrogen.linde.com/lindes-ionic-compressor/

Bill Howland

Uh huh… NEXT…..

Nix

There are multiple failure modes for hydrogen fires. That video showed the most optimistic type of failure, where there is a single piercing point of impact from above with an ignition source present. Like a burning crossbow bolt fired from a castle wall.

But there are other failure modes that are MUCH more destructive. Like a slow leak that fills up an enclosed space until it reaches an ignition source like a pilot light, like the typical natural gas or propane heaters found in most garages like this. Instead of the controlled slow flair release, there would be a massive building leveling explosion.

Even more destructive would be where an ignition source were to penetrate the tank. Like a .50 caliber armor piercing incendiary round, that would ignite the hydrogen while still in the tank, not on exit like the contrived flair due to a contrived piercing from above in the middle of the trunk. That would cause the hydrogen to explode under pressure — the most destructive type of explosion.

Impartial Observer
Stop spreading BS and FUD Nix. Nix said: “Even more destructive would be where an ignition source were to penetrate the tank. Like a .50 caliber armor piercing incendiary round, that would ignite the hydrogen while still in the tank. . .” Wrong Nix. The hydrogen inside the tank would NOT ignite since it is completely devoid of oxygen, and the hydrogen under 10,000 lbs. of pressure would escape out of the bullet hole without letting in any oxygen. In fact, Toyota tested this exact scenario. In the video below, Toyota fired a 50-caliber bullet at a Mirai tank full of hydrogen at point blank range. Spoiler alert: there was no BOOM BOOM. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jVeagFmmwA0 Nix said: “That video showed the most optimistic type of failure, where there is a single piercing point of impact from above with an ignition source present. Like a burning crossbow bolt fired from a castle wall.” Wrong again, Nix. The video said this was a leak from the “pressure relief valve” on the car’s hydrogen tank that was ignited. This was a simulation of how a fire under the hydrogen tank would cause an over-pressure condition in the hydrogen tank, which would open the pressure… Read more »
Nix

They didn’t use an incendiary tracer round. Your failure to read has been fully noted. Incendiary rounds do not need an external oxygen source to burn, and would enter the tank far above the auto-ignite temp of H2.

Sadly, H2 fool cell believers regurgitate the same willfully blind BS.

“before it would accumulate near the floor and pilot lights. ”

Clearly you have never seen the typical garage natural gas heater that are VERY common in commercial car garages. They are typically mounted on the ceiling exact where I said it would blow up. A valve shutoff does NOTHING to stop a leak in a tank. Also the sensor won’t trigger until the whole garage fills from the top down to the level of the sensor.

http://worldwidepress.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/garage-gas-heaters-overhead-garage-heaters-benefits-of-natural-gas-natural-gas-garage-heaters-calgary.jpg

http://buyaiongold.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/garage-unit-heater-medium-size-of-gas-garage-unit-heater-natural-gas-hanging-garage-heater-types.jpg

The lack of H2 fires is directly due to the lack of sales, and that they don’t attract drivers who care about speed and performance and drive fast.

Impartial Observer

Nix said:
“Incendiary rounds do not need an external oxygen source to burn, and would enter the tank far above the auto-ignite temp of H2.”

Auto-ignite temp of H2? You’re a little slow Nix, so I’ll try to explain it in the simplest way possible. The H2 inside a Mirai’s tank can NOT ignite because there is NO OXYGEN inside the tank. And the “high temperature” of an incendiary round would not “auto-ignite” H2 since there is no oxygen in the tank.

No oxygen = no H2 ignition. Comprende?

In the real world (not your imaginary world), I’m pretty sure HFCV drivers don’t worry about the astronomically low probability of their H2 tank being pierced by a “.50 caliber armor piercing incendiary round.” 🤣😂🤣 But if it did happen, there would be no fire or explosion.

Nix

Actually, tracer rounds bring their own chemical oxidizer. They don’t rely exclusively on upon free oxygen to burn. They bring their own oxygen supply. Same reason why rockets work in space. The oxidizer will work just as well to set off a hydrogen explosion as it works to keep tracer rounds burning.

Impartial Observer

Wrong again Nix. A burning tracer bullet would itself consume the oxygen from the oxidizer within its shell. But even if it didn’t, a small tracer bullet wouldn’t produce nearly enough oxygen to ignite the 5.5 kilograms of hydrogen under 10,000 lbs of pressure (it’s a LARGE amount of hydrogen) in a Miao fuel tank. The mixture ratio of oxygen to hydrogen would be too low, below the threshold to cause an explosion. 💥

But then again, what are the odds of your hydrogen tank getting hit by a 50-caliber incendiary round while you’re driving your HFCV around doing errands? And what would happen if a 50-caliber incendiary round hit a Tesla battery pack? Instant carbeque. 🔥

Nix

The oxidizer doesn’t know the difference between hydrogen and the other chemicals on the tracer round. It will chemically react with both.

It doesn’t need to ignite 5.5 kg of hydrogen under 10K of pressure. It only needs to react with enough hydrogen to rapidly overpressure the tank and rupture.

Again, this is just one example of a MODE of failure, of the THREE distinct modes of failure. I’m sorry you have chosen to remain willfully blind to two of the three failure modes.

Impartial Observer

Nope Nix. A tracer bullet makes too little oxygen and the hydrogen is too dense at 10,000 lbs of pressure for the ratio of oxygen to hydrogen to be become s combustible mix.

Nix

You are simply deluding yourself.

Again, this is just one example of a MODE of failure, of the THREE distinct modes of failure. I’m sorry you have chosen to remain willfully blind to two of the three failure modes.

TeslaInvestors

Impartial Observer is right. During world war II, the Germans used to come at night with hydrogen filled zeppelins to bombard London. The British developed special incendiary bullets to burn the zeppelins up. But when they shot bullets into the hydrogen chambers, they didn’t ignite because there was no oxygen. it was only after some young British pilot that got so frustrated that he unloaded all his ammo into a single hydrogen chamber, that let lot of oxygen in, and the zeppelin caught on fire.

Modern fuel cell tanks have such high pressure hydrogen that there is little chance for oxygen to get in. They also have leak sensors and other sensors. But I have no idea if any of the HFCVs had a major accident. Theoretically at least, it should be safer than the battery car fires for cars withbatteries all over the bottom of the car. I have seen the Tesla car fires, and they are all very nasty.

Nix

Modern tracer rounds aren’t like the rounds you talk about. Tracer rounds bring their own chemical oxidizer. They don’t rely upon free oxygen to burn. They bring their own oxygen supply. Same reason why rockets work in space. The oxidizer will work just as well to set off a hydrogen explosion as it works to keep tracer rounds burning.

TeslaInvestors

OK. I admit I don’t know anything about this tracer stuff. Will find out later. But the main point remains. It’s not easy to ignite it inside the tank. Time will tell if the theory matches real world experience.

TeslaInvestors

Sorry, correction. World war I, not II. There is a BBC documentary on this, but I can’t find it.
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-27517166

Pushmi-Pullyu

“Even more destructive would be where an ignition source were to penetrate the tank. Like a .50 caliber armor piercing incendiary round, that would ignite the hydrogen while still in the tank…”

It’s very rare to see you make a factual error, Nix, and I hate to agree with even part of what “Impartial Observer” said, when he’s throwing insults and unjust accusations at you, but your statement here is incorrect. A tank full of H2 isn’t going to explode (in the sense of extremely rapid combustion) if penetrated by an ignition source such as an incendiary round, because there’s no oxygen inside the tank for the H2 to react with. It might in theory explode in the sense of a hole in the tank turning into a rupture which would allow all the gas to escape in a moment; at 10,000 PSI that would be bad enough. But I’ve never read of that happening, so presumably whatever they make the high-pressure tanks out of is too strong to rupture like that.

JakeY

Actually the most dangerous is with external fires and when the pressure relief valve fails to release the gas in a controlled way (venting as in the video shown), as the tank heats up. What happens is an explosion like a car bomb.
http://www.cleanmpg.com/community/index.php?threads/7555/

So far this haven’t happened with HFCVs yet (not external fires yet), although there have been a lot lot less HFCVs than there have been CNG vehicles.

I should note also, many of the more modern HFCVs have the tanks under the passenger and not in the trunk, so if it vents, the flames would be directly burning the passenger compartment.

The other danger is a slow leak when the car is parked indoors.

TeslaInvestors

There are lots of sensors built into the car. If pressure starts going too high, it can leak some intentionally.

JakeY

In a Tesla battery pack and car there are also plenty of sensors built in to prevent fires like in this video, and the pack enclosure is also designed to contain the individual cells. However, the person obviously removed them in this case (or in the case of severe accidents, the pack is punctured the safety parts are bypassed). This causes a worst case failure mode (which are what we are discussing here).

Similarly, I’m talking worst case failure modes for hydrogen (and similar compressed gas vehicles). In the case linked, the pressure valve may have been defective or degraded due to age (possible with older vehicles) or the external fire may have damaged or destroyed it before it could have vented enough of the gas.

Nix

Yes, you have correctly identified the 3 different failure modes.

1) ignition inside a tank (cause of ignition can be many ways). Massively large explosion.
2) slow leak that spreads through a contained area before hitting any ignition source. Extremely large explosion.
3) slow to moderate leak where there is an ignition source present right from the beginning that creates a flare of fuel that immediately burns off. No explosion.

The crazy thing is that everybody involved with fuel cells all pretend that every failure will always be the 3rd type. Which is absurd. This is actually very similar to natural gas, which has the exact same 3 failure modes. When NG is flared out the top of a well or refinery, obviously it isn’t exploding. But when it fills a house and then hits an ignition source, it levels the house. And when a NG tank blows, it is a massive explosion. Same with hydrogen. Point it out to a fuel cell fanatic, and they will always pretend that there is only flaring.

Impartial Observer
JakeY, That was a gasoline Honda Civic converted by a third party to run on CNG. It is unknown if failsafe protection devices like a pressure relief valve were ever correctly installed on this conversion, or if they they were and failed. When a CNG tank with a pressure relief valve is exposed to fire, it should not catastrophically explode as it did in these pics. Per the comments to your link: “The car was a normal honda civic that had been converted to run on CNG. I don’t have the installer of the tanks but the car was owned by STITA (Seattle/Tacoma International Taxi Association). It was part of a 160 car fleet that was converted to run on CNG part of a deal to increase the contract with the airport from 5 years to 7.” “My work as an engineer has me design and manage filling stations and car conversions for natural gas vehicles. The systems for natural gas have many failsafe protection devices provided to prevent the event that apparently caused the wreckage. “In the first place all cylinders are fitted with pressure relief devices that operate when overpressure or over temperature occurs. This provides for the… Read more »
JakeY

That’s irrelevant though in context. We are talking about worst case failure modes where the safety devices either are not present or failed to work (either due to defects, age, or damage). Similar to what happened in this case to the Tesla modules which had all the safety devices and containment removed.

The video linked of the hydrogen car by TeslaInvestors is an ideal case failure (which in a Tesla also would not cause any harm to passengers or public either, as we have seen in multiple cases).

I think the worst case failure mode of batteries cells are a lot less scary than the worst case in a compressed gas vehicle.

Nix

Pushi — Actually, tracer rounds bring their own chemical oxidizer. They don’t rely upon free oxygen to burn. They bring their own oxygen supply. Same reason why rockets work in space. The oxidizer will work just as well to set off a hydrogen explosion as it works to keep tracer rounds burning.

mzs.112000

IMO Tesla batteries, are too dangerous for random people to be messing with…
Without BMS and cooling system, they will eventually catch fire… That’s why Tesla devotes a large portion of their resources to cooling.

For EV conversions, use LiFePO4, which doesn’t have those issues. You will need to settle for less range though…

amt

I wonder why they need to associate Tesla With a Highly Modified Mickey Mouse Home Made EV Conversion That Tesla Had Nothing To do With Except That The Builders Cobbled Together some Tesla Used Batteries & Utillized them ..