NYC major apartment fire from lithium cells

Dorkyman

Active Member
Region
USA
3-alarm fire in a New York highrise, with 38 injured.

Apparently caused by a lithium cell in an apartment occupied by a bike repair guy who has received complaints in the past. The Fire Marshall said there have been 200 such fires this year.

I suspect a major factor is the proliferation of junk-quality 18650 cells from mainland China, as opposed to quality (and protected) cells made by well-known brands such as LG, Panasonic, and Sony.

Stuff like this could possibly lead to blanket prohibitions on large lithium battery packs indoors.

EDIT: Forgot the link:
 
photos show a torched scooter, not a bike, but of course the fundamental problem is the same. this kind of thing will keep happening until there is more regulation, unfortunately, because you can't trust everyone to make the right/cautious choice rather than save a few bucks on some crappy cells with a crappy BMS and crappy charger.............
 
I imagine this could lead to management companies with residential rental properties banning battery packs much like air travel does, packs greater than 100 watt hour. 38 injured, two critically and five seriously will bring a lot of attention. We really need to crack down on cheap, untested imports before ebikes get a bad reputation.
 
I imagine this could lead to management companies with residential rental properties banning battery packs much like air travel does, packs greater than 100 watt hour. 38 injured, two critically and five seriously will bring a lot of attention. We really need to crack down on cheap, untested imports before ebikes get a bad reputation.
It is the government's job to do that, and they fail. If those battery packs were made in the US, they'd be UL tested and wouldn't be allowed on the market without it. China is allowed to import all this stuff and sold in the US without a glance.

Many electronic items from China violate FCC standards by causing interference in other devices. Same thing, made in the US, the FCC would be all over them and not allow those products on the market. Import from China, just let the crap flood the market.
 
Details are scarce, and I know it's different but this sounds analogous to some guy operating a gasoline refueling station on the 5th floor of an apartment high rise. What this guy was doing was nuts. The story is more about what should be criminal behavior than about bike or scooter batteries. Again, speculation, but it does sound like he was likely using cheap Chinese cells and probably less than the highest professional standards.

It's certain that this was not a case of someone just charging their ebike battery in their own apartment. It sounds like it was someone operating a dangerous business in a residential building.

TT
 
It is the government's job to do that, and they fail. If those battery packs were made in the US, they'd be UL tested and wouldn't be allowed on the market without it. China is allowed to import all this stuff and sold in the US without a glance.

Many electronic items from China violate FCC standards by causing interference in other devices. Same thing, made in the US, the FCC would be all over them and not allow those products on the market. Import from China, just let the crap flood the market.
I don't believe UL listing is mandatory for US manufacturers.

It's tempting to mandate safety standards, but you can't mandate against stupidity, can you. Worse is that all too many people seem to ignore the risks of Lion battery packs. Just look at the number of posts on this board about rebuilding a battery pack with homeowner grade tools, and no comments or concerns about safety devices or protocols.
 
Neither of my Yamaha batteries have UL listing, only the charger does. Many/most of the battery fires attributed to ebikes that I have seen seem to revolve around suspicious circumstances and often not even ebikes.
 
You know, there are risks in storing as much energy as you can in as small of a space as you can. Imagine if you had an ultra-capacitor electric car. If that thing shorted out all that you would have would be a burnt pit.
Just thinking that someone could build a fire-safe battery charging bin for use in a residence. Toxic smoke I don't know about, but it would seem pretty easy to make something that would contain a battery fire.
 
You know, there are risks in storing as much energy as you can in as small of a space as you can. Imagine if you had an ultra-capacitor electric car. If that thing shorted out all that you would have would be a burnt pit.
Just thinking that someone could build a fire-safe battery charging bin for use in a residence. Toxic smoke I don't know about, but it would seem pretty easy to make something that would contain a battery fire.
Lion batteries have unique risks beyond just the electrical energy that they store, because of a highly flammable electrolyte. Another problem is thermal runaway, which often means that, especially with cheaply designed cells and packs, when one cell fails, it will trigger failure of adjacent cells in a kind of chain reaction.

Today's New York Times had an article about battery fires. It wasn't at all informative, though.
 
A Pic of the recent Tesla fire after hitting debris on the interstate in PA . Check the smoke ... it took about 20 times as much water to put out as an ICE car fire, IIRC.
 

Attachments

  • 315769871_2976644749146735_340967024746807746_n.jpg
    315769871_2976644749146735_340967024746807746_n.jpg
    23.2 KB · Views: 112
Back