May 3, 2023

099 - Electric vehicle fires in tunnels with Peter Sturm

099 - Electric vehicle fires in tunnels with Peter Sturm

Do you have any idea how bad the tunnel fire will be if there is an EV involved?

That is a question I hear a lot, way more often than I would like. And usually, my answers do not get approval. I guess telling people "doesn't matter, passenger vehicles are not a concern" does not rank very well against all the media chaos related to challenges with these new energy carriers. Even today I've witnessed a random conversation of my father with a friend, where they discussed the future, EVs and how bad they may be in fires. It is hard to break through with some of the messages. Unfortunately, for those simple and reasonable claims, we need extraordinary proof.

Luckily, there are people who bring those proofs to us, so we finally can not only participate in meetings armed with data but also refer the peer-reviewed research and close the arguments. My today's hero is Prof. Peter Sturm from TU Graz, the leader in the BRAFA project on fires with new energy carriers (more about the project here). In their recent paper Fire tests with lithium-ion battery electric vehicles in road tunnels, they dive deep into fires of EVs in a road tunnel setting. We discuss why this setting is important to understand the consequences of the fire in the tunnel environment, and how their main conclusions were reached. You will also learn some about the new methods of extinguishing fires, as working alongside the firefighters was an important part of this project. Finally, in the podcast episode, we discuss how the results of this research may scale to larger vehicles, and what the consequences of low-probability high-consequence events such as an electrical bus fire may be.

If you would like to learn more about the crazy research facility Zentrum am Berg, you can do that here:

Cover image by TU Graz, Lunghammer, reproduced from 10.1016/j.firesaf.2022.10369

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