EmiControls, working in collaboration with Porsche Italia, has developed a quarantine container for damaged or potentially damaged electric vehicles (EVs), reducing the risk posed by them catching fire.
Self-ignition: a risk that needs addressing
The handling of EVs and their batteries is, at present, a complex and controversial issue to deal with, especially in relation to the most popular technology for making them: in order to achieve a particularly high energy density (i.e. how many kWh are available per kg of weight), and to reduce recharging times, the use of lithium-ion cells prevails on mid- to high-end cars.
Among the drawbacks associated with this type of technology is the inherent reactivity of the lithium used, which can trigger a series of chemical reactions following accidents, resulting in damage to the battery and leading to the development of smoke and flames. A phenomenon known as ‘thermal runaway’ can occur immediately after mechanical abuse or even hours or days later through spontaneous ignition.
To cope with this type of problem, on the one hand battery manufacturers continue to optimise the chemistry and construction of individual cells, and on the other hand OEMs implement a series of mechanical and electronic measures right from the design phase to minimise any potential risk to users.
Related reading: An expert view on the risks from lithium-ion battery fires
A permanent place for safety
In order to manage the risk, the best practice to date is to set up a quarantine area, in which the vehicle can be housed for monitoring, which can last between five and fifteen days depending on the risk situation identified.
Not all existing facilities, however, have the space to set up these technical quarantine areas (TQAs). Moreover, in the event of a thermal event developing, traditional extinguishing procedures would involve the use of large volumes of water and the need to contain it to prevent its dispersion into the environment.
As early as 2019, i.e. before the launch of the company’s first all-electric model, Porsche Italia, which has always been at the forefront of promoting a culture of safety, began to evaluate thepossibility of setting up technical quarantine areas that could be positioned less than five metres from surrounding structures, conducting in-depth analyses on the most effective ways of managing car quarantines and possible thermal events even when the area is unmanned.
Guaranteed safety 24/7
These studies, also conducted with the support of Porsche Engineering through the team of the Nardò Technical Centre, and the Fire Brigade Command of Padua, led to the definition of a fully automatic emergency management system that, by allowing installation, with the approval of the Fire Brigade, less than 5m from buildings, makes it possible to secure structures and the environment by guaranteeing constant 24/7 monitoring of the quarantined vehicle.
These systems, which have been installed by most of the Partners of the Official Porsche Italia Network, through advanced sensors that can intervene already in the very first phase of “venting”, i.e. venting the fumes generated inside the battery in the event of the start of a thermal leak, allow, combined with the structure’s fire-fighting ring, to contain any thermal events. Through sprinklers with “water mist” technology for smoke abatement and an automatic flooding system, electronically managed, allows the rapid cooling of the battery pack to mitigate the effects of the thermal escape and, eventually, stop it.
Q-Container, developed by EmiControls Srl of Bolzano, with its innovative systems ensures minimum reaction times, state-of-the-art extinguishing systems, without compromising on compactness and versatility of use and installation – all fundamental and indispensable requirements for success within the Porsche Italia network. Finally, the Q-Container system has been developed to ensure ergonomic and safe loading of the vehicle inside.
Check out the Q-Container in action below:
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