Toxic Horror Show Geelong Grid Backup Battery Fire Finally Extinguished

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Imagine if people were crazy enough to install these difficult to extinguish battery incendiary devices in their homes or automobiles, or near populated areas. Imagine what such foolishness could do to insurance premiums, once companies catch on to the risk of batteries acting as potent initiators and accelerants in house fires, or realise they might have to unexpectedly cover the cleanup cost of adjacent homes and gardens contaminated with poisonous residues from the battery smoke.

Blaze at Tesla Big Battery extinguished after three days

By Lucy Battersby and Cassandra Morgan
Updated August 2, 2021 — 7.40pm

Fire crews have extinguished a blaze at Victoria’s new Tesla Big Battery, the largest lithium-ion battery in the country, after taking more than three days to bring it under control.

One of the Tesla megapack batteries at the site in Moorabool, near Geelong, caught fire during testing shortly after 10am on Friday.

The Victorian Big Battery, with a capacity of 300 megawatts and 450 megawatt-hours, is three times bigger than the initial size of billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla big battery built in South Australia in 2017.

The authority said that, because of the nature of the fire – a 13-tonne battery – firefighters couldn’t put water on it or employ ordinary suppression methods. Instead, they had to let it “burn out” and wait for the container to cool down enough to open its doors.

Authorities had warned of toxic smoke billowing from the site on Friday. Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority has been monitoring air quality at the site over the weekend, and determined it was “good” by Monday afternoon.

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At the very least in my opinion these batteries should be sited well away from densely populated areas, and the practice of storing large batteries near or inside homes should cease. As political vanity causes grid scale battery packs to grow in size, the potential for long term harm to anyone unlucky enough to breath the smoke or eat produce grown in battery smoke fallout contaminated soil will also rise.

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Pillage Idiot
August 3, 2021 2:09 pm

Which provides more energy?

A back-up battery tied to a dubious source of renewable energy, or a burning back-up battery that is tied to a cogeneration facility that can utilize the heat and the turbine revolutions?

Extra credit question: Is a burning Tesla battery the closest thing we have to a perpetual motion machine? (Please show your work for full credit.)

Reply to  Pillage Idiot
August 3, 2021 2:36 pm

I Carnot do that.

Reply to  Pillage Idiot
August 3, 2021 3:24 pm

No, it’s clearly a one-off chemical reaction from which no work is done for us, but a lot done on the environment.

A perpetual motion machine is impossible, as a machine is defined as a device that does useful work for us. When a system with energy does useful work, energy is withdrawn from the system and its energy content has to decline.

You can make perpetual motion desk ornaments, like a spinning cylinder in a vacuum chamber suspended on magnetic fields. With no friction, it will spin forever but will not and cannot do anything for you that is useful work.

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  Charles Higley
August 3, 2021 5:03 pm

It’s a perpetual funding machine, pulling in tax dollars from chumps like me.

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  Charles Higley
August 3, 2021 8:55 pm

Such a spinning device could be used to interrupt a light beam in order to show a movie. So it depends on what you define as “work”. It could be used to tell time if it can be observed spinning.

Reply to  Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
August 3, 2021 9:36 pm

If you used it to shutter a light beam, the light pressure would either slow it down or actually drive it, depending on the direction of the light.

Charles Fairbairn
Reply to  Charles Higley
August 3, 2021 9:01 pm

There is no such thing as ‘no friction’.

Reply to  Charles Fairbairn
August 3, 2021 9:37 pm

Exactly, there’s no perfect vacuum and there will be induced currents and magnetic drag.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Charles Higley
August 4, 2021 10:01 am

With no friction, it will spin forever but will not and cannot do anything for you that is useful work.”

Sorry, but magnetic hysteresis losses in the coupling of the spinning cylinder to the (baseplate) supporting fields insure that such a “perpetual motion desk ornament” could never spin forever, even within an absolutely perfect vacuum and without doing any work.

Mark D
Reply to  Pillage Idiot
August 3, 2021 6:07 pm

The snark is strong with this one. I salute you.

Reply to  Pillage Idiot
August 3, 2021 11:50 pm

It is going to be very interesting to see what the cost of clearing up is, including surrounding land and property that has been polluted, and how all the remains are disposed of.
No doubt the insurers will take a big hit, and it will likely make them more circumspect about the risk they will be covering. Insurance rates seem to be bound to rise.
And then there is the cost of the replacement battery.

Reply to  Pillage Idiot
August 4, 2021 10:42 am

 Instead, they had to let it “burn out” and wait for the container to cool down enough to open its doors.”

Obviously not “perpetual” when it had to “burn out” before they could get near it.

As many others point out there is no such thing as a “Perpetual Motion Machine” by definition that can stay in motion by itself indefinitely and could never create energy that could be used for anything else.

This is not to say that there are not ways to use a small amount of energy that will produce a greater amount of energy, that from that greater amount of energy the smaller amount can be used to keep the whole machine running for a sustained period of time, until parts wear out or go bad or the system is overloaded.

Two 12 volt deep cycle marine battery of 750 amp hours can power two 5,000 watt power inverters with a 10,000 watt peak each draws 5 amps each to run, that can power a 750 watt refrigerator, a 600 watt freezer, a 250 watt TV, a 150 watt computer, a 300 watt stereo, a 1,000 watt microwave, a 1,000 watt coffeemaker, a 1,200 watt toaster, and a 3/8″ electric drill that uses 1,200 watts that combined is 6,450 watts for over 1 hour before the batteries are drained too much to sustain those electrical sources and there are more things that can be added to the power available of the two 5,000 watts inverters up to 3,550 watts to run lights, room heaters, fans, etc. Things like refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, drills, etc… are not constantly running at peak and only need cycles of their peak watts to start them – usually not at the same time – and some of these sources are only used for short periods of time like a microwave or coffeemaker.

So what if you take that 3/8″ drill and run a 85 amp 12 volt regulated generator that keeps the batteries charged between 12.9 and 14.5 volts before the circuits shut off the drill at 14.5 volts at full charge and turns the drill on at 12.9 volts (at 12.5 volts a 12 volt battery is at 50% charge and is a dead battery at 12.4 volts). Such a system would keep the batteries charged until parts wore out, went bad or the system was overloaded for too long.

While this is not “perpetual” because energy is used to keep the batteries charged. As long as the system is not overloaded, it can sustain itself for long periods of time. This is basically no different than the generator and battery systems in practically every vehicle on the road. The only difference is using a small percentage of the energy to run an electric drill that turns the generator to keep the batteries charged.

August 3, 2021 2:10 pm

… or an electric bus
Electric-Bus Inferno In Hanover-Germany…Explosive Fire Causes “Millions In Damages”

Last edited 11 months ago by Vuk
Reply to  Vuk
August 3, 2021 2:17 pm
Reply to  Vuk
August 3, 2021 9:57 pm


Yeah, what could possibly go wrong, Vuk?

I’m going to have to take points off for that design, though. They didn’t think to put batteries in the tires… yet. 😜

P.S. I’ll bring the marshmallows. Hmmm… Prolly shouldn’t eat them, though.

Reply to  Vuk
August 3, 2021 3:21 pm

Why are lithium batteries used for a stationary application? What about lead-acid? Are they too cheap?

Reply to  Curious George
August 3, 2021 3:56 pm

Why are lithium batteries used for a stationary application? 

Lead/Acid are much more expensive over their useful life than lithium. They are good for a few hundred full discharge cycles. They are best operated in the top 30% of their capacity. By comparison lithium can operate for maybe 1000 full cycles in the range 10% to 90% of rated capacity.

Then there is round cycle efficiency at high discharge rate and time to charge. Lithium can operate efficiently at 1 hour rate discharge and 2 hour rate recharge. Lead/Acid are rated at 10 hour rate of charge and discharge. Round cycle efficiency for Lead/Acid around 80% compared with low 90% for Lithium.

There are liquid metal batteries near commercial production that offer potential for grid scale storage. Their main issue is going cold. If there was a fire in their enclosure, they would freeze and their energy no longer available. They rely on internal losses and good insulation to maintain operating temperature.

Robert Keon
Reply to  RickWill
August 3, 2021 5:34 pm

I agree Rick, however you missed one important feature of lead acid batteries. They are 100% recyclable with a simple process. Not so for lithium batteries. That will become more of an issue as lithium supplies become scarce. What you need is lead acid battery refurbishment plant on site and the cost would come way down. Hence they are still a good alternative to keep in mind and without the horrific disadvantages of lithium.

Reply to  Robert Keon
August 3, 2021 9:43 pm

That’s a good point for static storage.
It would not work for electric vehicles. So let’s stop talking about “green” cars.

Reply to  Robert Keon
August 4, 2021 1:22 am

What happen to cadmium storage battery’s

Reply to  RickWill
August 4, 2021 8:26 am

Edison batteries only need to be regenerated IN PLACE every 40 years or so.

Reply to  RickWill
August 4, 2021 8:52 am

Rick, thanks, you are right. I’ll add two data points to consider:
Tesla Powerwall 14kWh $7,500
6x Interstate SRM-4D 14.4kWh $1,800

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Curious George
August 4, 2021 10:10 am

Good comparison, except for the fact that you’d never want to cycle those lead-acid batteries much below 70% DoD whereas the lithium ion batteries would likely stand up to thousands of cycles down to 30% DoD.

Just matching kWh theoretical capacity is not the full story.

Reply to  Curious George
August 4, 2021 10:25 am

“Deep cycle batteries resemble regular car batteries, but they differ in a few key areas. The main difference is that they’re designed to be completely discharged and can be recharged dozens or even hundreds of times.” [Amazon]

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  RickWill
August 4, 2021 10:56 am

from the statement: “By comparison lithium can operate for maybe 1000 full cycles in the range 10% to 90% of rated capacity.”

That’s 3 years assuming a daily cycle needed by solar farms. Ouch.

Reply to  RickWill
August 7, 2021 9:55 am

I’ve had an off grid cabin for decades and have had a very good experience with deep cycle flooded lead acid batteries.

My last set of Rolls/Surrette deep cycle flooded lead acid batteries were still going strong after 17 years of use when I decided to replace them 6 months ago so I wouldn’t need to worry about them again until I’m in my mid 70’s.

My local Rolls battery dealer used his forklift to take the old batteries out of my truck and dropped in my new batteries. The old batteries have already been completely recycled and are not an environmental nuisance. I’ve not yet seen any type of economic or environmentally safe recycling system for Li batteries.

The Li battery economics do not compare well at all to lead acid as my brand new 25kWhr lead acid battery cost $2800 (including shipping and state sales tax) and the less than equivalent Li battery storage would have cost >$23,000. I could have boosted my lead acid battery to >200kWhr for the same cost of a 21kWhr Li Ion battery.

From memory the Rolls lead acid battery is rated for ~3000 30% discharges and 1000 deep discharges. Generally I never discharge them by more 5% on a typical day so I expect to get a good 20 years out of them. I check/maintain their water level every 3 months or so. It’s a cabin so I’m not worried about the efficiency of charge conversion in energy storage. I’ll add more solar panels if needed as they are ridiculously cheap these days.

The 25kWhr Rolls lead acid battery weighs about 500kg and takes up a space measuring 0.5m x 0.5m x 1.7m) and a Li battery would be smaller and lighter but it is never moved and I don’t need to worry about the lead acid battery burning my cabin down. It’s in a nice insulated box in my workshop and it never gets too cold or too hot. It stays close to 23C year round which is the “Goldilocks” temperature for almost all battery chemistries in terms of service life and available capacity.

Reply to  Curious George
August 5, 2021 4:10 am

Curious George: “Why are lithium batteries used for a stationary application? What about lead-acid? Are they too cheap?”

Lessee here. Vuk was writing about a bus with batteries all over and you reply to him with a question about stationary battery use.

Hmmm… OK. I think your question is pretty good, seeing as how most of the battery-powered electric buses wind up stationary sooner rather than later.

It’s far safer to have lead acid batteries in buses that don’t work, i.e. stationary buses. I don’t know why they don’t use them instead of lithium batteries.

Good question.

J Mac
August 3, 2021 2:18 pm

It’s the Green New Deal solution to fire suppression: Let It Burn Itself Out!
Similarly GND flood control is, when it’s flooding, wait for the flood waters to go down. Breath taking in its child-like simplicity, isn’t it?

Reply to  J Mac
August 3, 2021 2:40 pm

The let it burn with lithium is not a choice it is about the only option. Dumping a truckload of sand on the fire might put it out. Then maybe you could haul away the slag.

Reply to  walt
August 3, 2021 3:37 pm

Not building it in the first place is the only true, safe solution.

Reply to  walt
August 3, 2021 5:07 pm

Yikes…hate to think it could happen with passengers on board. Yes…on a smaller scale, my Canon digital camera uses a Li-Ion battery. Once the case is cracked/open, the choice is to get it out of the house and on to sand, or snow/ice in winter. The fumes are noxious to say the least. It took a day for one of my defective batteries to cool in the snow. BTW, any experience with NiMH batteries?

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Walter Keane
August 3, 2021 6:00 pm

Randall Munroe, of XKCD fame, has pointed out that he could easily rig his lithium ion laptop battery to be a b0mb. I won’t go any further than that in his quote.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Walter Keane
August 4, 2021 11:04 am

The first generation Prius used NiMH batteries. I am not aware of thermal problems. They are not weight competitive for BEV use with decent range, nor is there enough nickel to power a global fleet of electric vehicles.

Jim G
Reply to  walt
August 3, 2021 8:53 pm

Sand won’t put it out.
Adding an insulator would increase the temperature of the battery.
The energy stored in the battery needs to deplete first.
Cooling down the container would be helpful to prevent cascade failures to other cells.

Reply to  J Mac
August 3, 2021 3:54 pm

50 shades of Rome

Reply to  J Mac
August 4, 2021 8:28 am

And all the headlines speak of containment and “extinguished”. The fire was not contained or extinguished, it burned itself out.

So the “news” headlines are telling uninformed people that a battery fire can be contained and/or extinguished, which is, as TRYMP! would say, fake news.

Steve Z
Reply to  J Mac
August 4, 2021 11:56 am

What if they let the California wildfires “burn themselves out”? Would the fuel include some people’s homes?

August 3, 2021 2:18 pm

> More than 8-24 hours to extinguish for the win.

Timo, not that one
August 3, 2021 2:22 pm

Shouldn’t they do a study to find the average rate at which these batteries catch fire, the amount and nature of the pollutants and carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, and add that to the amount of pollutants and carbon dioxide which is released into the atmosphere during manufacture and transportation of the “green” batteries?
Seems like they aren’t very environmentally friendly to me.

Richard Page
Reply to  Timo, not that one
August 3, 2021 3:16 pm

They should, but they won’t – too afraid of what they’ll find out. And no, they aren’t environmentally friendly at all.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Timo, not that one
August 3, 2021 5:19 pm

There were 76 battery containers at this facility, out of 80 planned, and 1 caught fire during installation that then involved some of its neighbors.

I’d have to say the average rate is extremely high.

Richard Page
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
August 4, 2021 5:11 am

I wonder how many are recoverable, or will they write off all 76?

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Richard Page
August 4, 2021 6:47 am

Don’t know, but what are the people behind it now thinking? How to get out as painlessly as possible?

Reply to  Carlo, Monte
August 4, 2021 8:34 am

I am sure they have already made (siphoned off) most of the money they expect to make on the installation. Development and construction are the best places to collect their 10 to 20% of the total expenditures.

Operation of the system more likely was to provide ongoing jobs for brothers/sisters/sons/daughters/etc. of the connected who “support” this crap.

This is simply “crony capitalism” at it’s finest.

Reply to  Drake
August 5, 2021 12:11 am

That’s the trouble with crony capitalism, half goes to the wrong cronies

August 3, 2021 2:25 pm

Charging stations should never be allowed inside enclosed carparks and shopping centres. It is starting to happen unfortunately.

Reply to  Roger
August 3, 2021 2:40 pm

Any victims would not be filing lawsuits.

Reply to  walt
August 3, 2021 3:52 pm

At least their funeral expenses would be somewhat less after first being cremated.

Reply to  walt
August 3, 2021 10:02 pm

Yeah, but their heirs would still file a suit, walt.

John Endicott
Reply to  walt
August 4, 2021 3:33 am

The victims won’t but the families they leave behind will.

Reply to  Roger
August 3, 2021 3:41 pm

Charging stations should not be at petrol stations, unless well separated by fireproof walls

Reply to  Ozonebust
August 3, 2021 3:53 pm

A charging station would be a bad fit with a gas station anyway due to the length of time it takes to charge. Most gas stations don’t have an excess of lot space.

Reply to  Roger
August 3, 2021 4:26 pm

A new Australian standard on household battery installations restricts lithium batteries to non-habitable locations such as external walls. Enclosed garages are acceptable providing the battery is well protected from physical damage by collision. They are specifically not permitted in roof cavities or underfloor spaces. So if the garage has living space above then it cannot go in the garage.

BEVs with lithium batteries are not common in Australia. There are quite a few Toyota Hybrids. The first house fire resulting from garaged BEV or charging BEV will raise concerns with regulators and insurers. Rules may follow. ICE vehicles probably have a similar fire risk. I have experienced a small car fire in an ICE vehicle but damage was limited to bit of heavy wiring and some paint damage. It is not unusual to see ICE vehicle fires in Australia. I can think of two last week. One a truck that hit a bridge and another in a car just driving on the freeway and that is the middle of winter.

A feature of grid battery storage is the ease of getting environmental approval compared with say a gas turbine. Batteries are regarded as environmentally benign. Clean looking, zero gas emissions, reasonably quiet. No massive cooling towers. No exhaust stack. No extra heat load. At least until they catch fire.

The Geelong fire will make environmental approvals more difficult for all future batteries. It will also incentivise commercialisation of grid batteries that do not present a fire risk.

Reply to  RickWill
August 4, 2021 1:01 am

If we put aside car crash induced fires (where ICE and BEV can both go up in flames) there is a main difference between ICE and BEV. ICE can catch fire only during operation and even then the fire starts at the overheating engine not at the tank. So usually you have time to stop the car and run away. No ICE car catches fire during shut-down(parking) at night.
That’s the problem with BEV cars. They mostly catch fire when there is a malfunction during loading. So at night in the garage and you wake up with a garage in flames. I bet also the fire in Teslas Geelong battery store ignited during loading.

Reply to  Gerald
August 4, 2021 1:27 am

I know of at least two ICE cares catching fire whilst parked in there garages.
All were down to battery shorts.

Reply to  Gerald
August 4, 2021 1:36 am

Also many ICE fires can be quickly controlled with a small fire fire extinguisher

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  ross
August 4, 2021 6:49 am

Yes; gasoline does not explode until it is vaporized and mixed with air.

Reply to  RickWill
August 6, 2021 3:09 am

Rickwill I sincerely hope that you are correct in your last paragraph. We are fortunate enough to live not too far from the Mudgee wine region. It has some pretty stunning scenery. We have the misfortune of our region recently being declared a Renewable Energy Zone. A 400MW solar project with 200MW of BESS Batteries has just been approved around 8 kilometres from our home. This installation takes up almost 18 square kilometres of agricultural land. An application has gone in for another solar project, this one at 390MW, also with backup batteries. It has been rumoured that this battery will be a 1,000MW. I hope that this is a mistake. This project will be 8 kilometres in a different direction. We already have an 87MW thin film cadmium/tellurium solar works 4 kilometres from our home.

All this, and we have never had a case of covid in our region, and they are jumping up and down insisting that we wear a mask! I do not fear a virus that is unlikely to kill me. But, with the fires that we have here on a regular basis without renewables, I am truly fearful of the increased risk that they are putting us under when these fires cannot be fought. The population of our town is 2500 and we have 132 buildings which have been declared of historic significance. We have been fighting all this for more than two years now, I am sick, mentally and physically.

With the existing solar works, and including the recently approved one, there will be more than a million solar panels needing to be disposed of in around 20 years time. And that is just the start for this region. On top of that, the third project includes more than 60 wind turbines.

I’m broken.

Reply to  Roger
August 3, 2021 5:10 pm

Our strata condo recently refused a resident’s request to install an EV charging station in our basement parkade.
Additionally, the applicant was refused permission to park their EV in the enclosed underground parking area, based on concerns about spontaneous combustion.
No pushback as yet, but we could be a test case.

Reply to  Mr.
August 3, 2021 10:06 pm

Hold fast, hold firm, Mr.

You and your neighbors really don’t want to risk becoming crispy critters, do you?

Steve E.
August 3, 2021 2:30 pm

Just imagine how many green heads would explode if a very large CO2 fire extinguisher was applied to the fire…

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Steve E.
August 3, 2021 4:01 pm

Although that is funny, a CO2 extinguisher won’t work because the batteries have their own sources of oxygen.

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 3, 2021 9:05 pm

The idea is not the starvation, it is to cool the material below the auto-ignition temperature.

I related the idea of successfully using a huge CO2 fire extinguisher as a chiller to some friends and we all laughed hard.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
August 4, 2021 12:53 am

Actually it’s not a bad idea. In Australia, it used to be quite common to use those CO2 extinguishers with long cone nozzles to cool a can of beer. You place the nozzle over the can on the floor and spray for a few seconds. Does the job quite well, apparently.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
August 4, 2021 1:08 am

You can get “instant” tyre (tire) inflators for bicycles. Used to reinflate a tyre after a puncture. They use a small CO2 cartridge like the ones used in DIY sodawater fountains. As a Puncture King in bothe cars and bikes I have one but have never used it because I read somewhere that they get very cold and can cause frost “burns” if your not careful with them. Pumping up a tyre after repair is a good way of getting rid of any frustration. The god of punctures usually ensures that mine are either on a sunny day where there’s no shade or just when it is starting to rain.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 4, 2021 6:54 am

No more hauling small air pumps around that don’t work; the better quality bike chargers have the CO2 cartridge inside a small cage to avoid having to hold them cold.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 4, 2021 8:49 am

Or on the side of the interstate, with cars passing at 80+ mph, with no shade, and 105 F, on a 8 lug tire, with just the tire iron and jack that came with the truck. My spare was/is good, so no inflation to do.

Went home and bought a 1/2 inch electric impact wrench that day.

Now have a bottle jack in my tool box, quicker and easier than the factory jack.

Some dipstick had somehow broken the loading rack off of the back of a U-Haul trailer and I could not avoid hitting it, the thing was still moving across the road and I had now where to go.

Really glad I wasn’t pulling my 5th wheel. I could have been changing out multiple tires.

Robert of Texas
August 3, 2021 2:37 pm

People how install these battery packs in a house should have to carry mandatory liability insurance as well as higher house fire premiums.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 3, 2021 3:35 pm

Insurance companies and lending institutions will sort this out very quickly. People who install these things to save money will get an object lesson in how expensive saving money can be.

{see below:
Step 2: Buy popcorn}

Last edited 11 months ago by TonyL
Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 3, 2021 3:55 pm

I imagine there will (or at least should) be fairly significant liability issues for apartment buildings and semi-detached residences. If people want to risk burning their own home down, that is up to them, but creating a significant risk of unextinguishable fire in a multi-dwelling building risks burning down other people’s property where they have no say in whether that risk is taken.

Robert of Texas
Reply to  MarkH
August 3, 2021 4:23 pm

I am also referring to the risk of toxic gases released by a large lithium fire.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 4, 2021 1:10 am

What about the so called environmentally OK eScooters and eBikes? They will be stored in a garage or indoors in the majority of cases. The shed at the bottom of the garden is vulnerable to theft and will rarely have power for overnight charging.

Mark Kaiser
August 3, 2021 2:40 pm

Fire crews have extinguished a blaze at Victoria’s new Tesla Big Battery,……

…..Instead, they had to let it “burn out” and wait for the container to cool down enough to open its doors.

So the fire crews opened its doors…..after waiting 3 days. Not much extinguishing from the fire crews.

And what’s the difference between “burn out” and just: burn out?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Mark Kaiser
August 3, 2021 4:04 pm

And what’s the difference between “burn out” and just: burn out?

Adding quotes makes it seem as though the battery did not just carry on burning and could not be put out. It sorta implies that this was a decision rather than a preordained result.

Reply to  Mark Kaiser
August 3, 2021 7:02 pm

Apparently this battery spent more time burning than it spent in service.

Last edited 11 months ago by Raven
August 3, 2021 2:41 pm

The Victorian Big Battery

Big flames, big smoke, big loss.

Reply to  icisil
August 3, 2021 4:10 pm

Big Joke!

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  icisil
August 3, 2021 9:20 pm

Has anybody bothered to quantify the losses? How much money was burned?

bill Johnston
August 3, 2021 2:43 pm

Oh great. First they put their windmills away from densely populated areas and now these potential chemical bombs. Those of us in the not densely populated areas are tired of it. Put them in the middle of the enclaves where the proponents reside.

bill Johnston
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 3, 2021 6:03 pm

Except one of the siting requirements, by the builder, is that the wind park be located near a high voltage transmission line. Here they can tap in with little or no added infrastructure. Of course, if the line is already near capacity, adding more could be a problem.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 3, 2021 6:55 pm

Not so! CA builds solar plants in the desert, windmills on mountaintops, and gets 30% of its electricity from neighboring states. Nice, long (breakable) transmission lines running through its forests.

Dave R
Reply to  hiskorr
August 4, 2021 5:19 am

Or, simply do as Scotland and UK does – stick the transmission construction costs ‘silently’ into cost per unit used. A classic example: the Beauly – Denny line at a cost of ca.£820 million when originally quoted at 330. Where did that near half billion come from? Accountancy, anywhere?

Meantime, former Longannet’s near 2GW thermal (about a half of Scottish needs), under EU – diktated LCPDs, stripped out the machinery and flogged it to … Germany, to burn lignite.

Reply to  Dave R
August 5, 2021 12:21 am

Machinery that had been operating since 1973? Doesn’t make sense they would both ship it out and reuse it. They did try some particulate filters , so that might what’s reused

Latemarch (a member of the rabble in good standing
Reply to  bill Johnston
August 3, 2021 3:48 pm

The higher and higher the stored energy/volume the closer and closer you come to having a bomb.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 3, 2021 5:09 pm

“Lets not forget, oxidiser and fuel in the same package.”
Like -The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet 1941-1944
Nedelin disaster 1960Damascus Titan missile explosion 1980
Plesetsk launch pad disaster 1980
Challenger Disaster 1986
SpaceXFalcon 9 2016

you get the idea

Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 4, 2021 1:37 am

Yep. Primary reason why they don’t fight these fires and just let them burn. You cannot stop them. Most RC clubs require LiPo batteries to be put into thermal bags when you are charging at the club so when it goes up in flames, the effects are confined wihtin the bag. Most clubs have seen more than one fire.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 4, 2021 1:45 am

If you want a laugh, find old video of the underwater Sydney Olympic torch. Watch as it comes out of the water, lights up the normal torch for the runner to carry on with and then watch the officials try and put it out in a bucket of water SMH.

August 3, 2021 2:55 pm

It’s the nature of the beast. Thermal runaway occurences increase with the size of the battery packs. Single batteries, like in vaporizers/toys/small electrical devices/laptops/cameras/phones, have been known for years to catch fire. These huge batteries are nothing more than small batteries grouped together …. thousands if not hundreds of thousands of them. A Tesla Model S battery pack has over 7,000 individual batteries. So it’s not just the chance of a battery cluster going up in smoke because it only takes one cell to start the chain reaction.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  markl
August 3, 2021 4:06 pm

The term ‘battery’ means several together, in this case ‘cells’. I imagine that rather than 7,000 batteries, it has 7,000 cells?

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 3, 2021 4:21 pm

From the pictures I’ve seen, they look like individual batteries that fit into the battery management system.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 3, 2021 4:29 pm

You’re right!

Reply to  markl
August 3, 2021 4:21 pm

Each cell produces the same amount of heat, whether it’s all by itself, or part of a pack of 7000 cells. The difference is that the more cells there are, the more difficult it is for the heat from each cell to escape from the battery pack.
As the total number of cells goes up, the higher the temperature at the core of the pack gets.

Reply to  markl
August 3, 2021 4:34 pm

How about 17,647,058 metal cans give or take a few. Quite a lot. But spread over thousands of modules housed in 106 containers. It is a big battery.

Reply to  RickWill
August 3, 2021 9:50 pm

Batteries of batteries.

Iain Russell
August 3, 2021 2:56 pm

Instant ‘smoking ceremony’. For free.

August 3, 2021 3:05 pm

I’m surprised they built that factory so close to Melbourne.

August 3, 2021 3:20 pm

Michael. It is not a factory.
Farther from the point of use would make electrical storage completely useless. Electrical transmission losses, compounded by charge/discharge losses mean that a storage facility will have to be located close to at least part of the supporting “grid” infrastructure to a large population area.
Think what this will mean to the Hawaiian storage battery.
The factory is in China.

John Hultquist
Reply to  dk_
August 3, 2021 9:07 pm

These are “facilities.” Whether a cluster of towers, solar panels, or batteries, they are grid-scale electric facilities.
I especially dislike the phrase “wind farms”, but they do harvest subsides.

August 3, 2021 3:13 pm

a capacity of 300 megawatts and 450 megawatt-hours


Juan Slayton
Reply to  dk_
August 3, 2021 3:40 pm

I suppose that means it will put out 300 megawatts for and hour and a half. Or something like that.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Juan Slayton
August 3, 2021 4:08 pm

Yes. It can, or at least could have, put out 300MW for 1.5 hours, or less for longer.

Quite frankly, I’m amazed that they got the units correct, it’s very rare.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 3, 2021 6:59 pm

Agreed that it is rare. Reporters usually give one or the other, and often with the incorrect unit.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 3, 2021 8:54 pm

Okay, trying to put this into context here.

A quick search suggested that your office building uses 145kw/h per m squared.

So, if we round for lazy maths this battery will keep 2000m2 of office space running for one and half hours? More or less?

Reply to  Juan Slayton
August 3, 2021 6:33 pm

I think that was a paper spec, put out as a design goal, not a requirement. I also think that 450 MWh for backup in the Melbourne grid is probably a little under-spec for what would be needed. Batteries of all sorts lose energy on charge/discharge over time. They also get worse as time goes on. Even if safely completed, I suspect the facility would have been inadequate.

450MWh requires more than 450 hours of charging, especially in lithium, which must be slow charged in order not to go into thermal runaway. The battery facility had just begun to go on-line.

  • I wonder if someone was attempting to charge too quickly.
  • I also wonder how much the facility would have degraded over time. If it truly met its design goal of 300 MW for 90 minutes at start of full operations, I’m betting that in 10 years after completion it would have been half that.

I think that I’ve read that the charging operation was taking place at the same time as construction. This would not have been allowed in a properly run facility with adequate safeguards in place for handling hazardous material.

Australia would do well to halt construction altogether, properly store all batteries, if some are in transit for this project then prevent more from coming into port, put a proper investigation team into the entire project, furlough some public officials, seize all documentation, and keep a prosecutor on tap. Perhaps some of this is already being done.

Last edited 11 months ago by dk_
Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  dk_
August 3, 2021 7:15 pm

450MWh requires more than 450 hours of charging

I think perhaps you misunderstand what MWh are.

The potential output was supposed to be 300MW. Even though you have to charge more slowly than that, we have no idea how much more slowly. At 100MW, charging would take 4.5 hours, for example, ignoring efficiency losses.

Regarding the rest, I believe this happened during testing. It was never operational. Tests are supposed to find things that are wrong, and it looks like they did.

Last edited 11 months ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 3, 2021 8:17 pm

I read on another site that it had started operations on the same day that the fire started. It was possibly an incorrect report. It was not stated that this was a testing phase, although I agree that there should be one. I was also informed that construction was still underway.

There are several conditions that can cause lithium batteries to catch fire. One of them is charging too quickly. Another might be damage from ongoing nearby construction.

You are right that I wasn’t clear. But to get t time duration of discharge at e level of energy from any storage, the system must charge for >t/e. There will be a charging and discharge loss of energy, and limits on the discharge rate. You can charge for less than t at higher energy, but it is well known that this doesn’t work well for lithium. If it wasn’t over-charged, my speculation is invalid.

Reply to  dk_
August 4, 2021 5:38 am

Being fully charged causes a Li battery to lose capacity over time. The hotter it is, the more quickly it loses capacity.

August 3, 2021 3:19 pm

There is good reason my wife will not get in her friend’s Tesla. The EV Bolt has a problem, like with burning up, but they think it might take 6 months to come up with the fix. Meanwhile Bolt owners have to cross their fingers and eyes and hope not to incinerate before the fix comes out. Nothing like life with extra, unintended risks. What a thrill. Getting to work alive is a “Yay.”

At the very least, this means that EV owners are going to be reluctant to park their cars in the garages and charge them. Best to leave them out side, well away from the house, and garage, like on a float in the pond would be good.

In addition, cities are going to ban EV vehicles from parking indoors or underground and there will be no charging stations that are not well away from the structures. City charging station are going to be very expensive.

All of this necessarily decreases parking for EVs. As the goal is to get rid of the internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in ten years, they are also already setting up to limit EV cars, as they are so inherently dangerous. Wow, it’s like this was planned. Agenda 21.

August 3, 2021 3:31 pm

“Imagine if people were crazy enough to install these difficult to extinguish battery incendiary devices in their homes or automobiles, or near populated areas.”

Eric Worrall says this like it is a bad thing or something.
I see it as a self-limiting problem.

Step 1: Give the people what they ask for.
Step 2: Buy popcorn.

Peta of Newark
August 3, 2021 3:35 pm

These things are a terrorist’s dream come true.

I’m reminded of my adventure up to Leeds to be lectured to by Chris Stark – the UK’s renewable energy ‘minister’ (I don’t think he is a ‘minister’ but certainly is = Head Honcho)

I took to planting my truck in The Leeds University Carpark.
A multi-storey pile of concrete and steel as car-parks are but this one clad in sheets of curved, artistic, architectural modernist steel.
Here it is
In close up

Picture the blizzard of shrapnel that would become with a bomb going off inside it.

No need for a bomb though ##, as you circulate upwards looking for space for a German diesel-powered jalopy, you will see on every floor/level, about a dozen consecutive/adjacent spaces marked up for ‘Electric Vehicles Only

Do I need say more?

## Re bombs and terrorists. At one point in our not so distant history, concern was raised should anybody of terrorist inclinations should get their hands on some Plutonium and there after, Make A Bomb
But making atom bombs is not easy, you need a whole load of other really technical shizzle to get the fugga to go off properly.

So what the Enlightened Terrorist would do is take his Plutonium to the top of a tall building and put a match to it. Or rub two boy-scouts/sticks whatever together lights your candle….

Because Plutonium burns a lot like Magnesium does, impossible to put out and with a hot white flame creating epic clouds of fine white dust.
Just like Tesla batteries it would seem.

Even before the stuff is hideously radioactive, it is also a diabolical chemical poison.

And that car-park in Leeds, apart from being ‘City centre, is also barely 100 yards away from a Very Large hospital..
Doesn’t bear thinking………..

Last edited 11 months ago by Peta of Newark
August 3, 2021 3:40 pm

All of the images I have seen show just one unit burning; was the fire contained to just the one? I know that many hope that this battery technology will fail, but I doubt it. In any case these batteries are never going to be the long term solution to energy storage that is needed for wind and solar to take over all power generation. They can provide instantaneous power to help with short term problems, but I think that is about all they will ever be used for.

William Astley
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 3, 2021 4:16 pm

The batteries are very dangerous because the battery failure starts endothermic reactions, which do not require oxygen and hence cannot be put out.

Fire fighters cannot use water or foam to stop an endothermic reaction,

Fire fighters use water to take heat away from the unstoppable endothermic reactions and electrical discharge.

Taking heat away from the battery endothermic reaction, is an attempt to stop one battery fire destroying buildings, an entire battery facility, cars in a parkade, or cars in pile up.

The unstoppable endothermic battery reaction/explosion also produces produces dangerous carcinogenic and poisonous gases.

From Eric Worral’s above link to a Wattsup article.

Li-ion batteries can fail by “thermal runaway” where overheating in a single faulty cell can propagate to neighbours with energy releases popularly known as “battery fires”.

These are not strictly “fires” at all, requiring no oxygen to propagate.

They are uncontrollable except by extravagant water cooling.

They evolve toxic gases such as Hydrogen Fluoride (HF) and highly inflammable gases including Hydrogen (H2), Methane (CH4), Ethylene (C2H4) and Carbon Monoxide (CO).

These in turn may cause further explosions or fires upon ignition. The chemical energy then released can be up to 20 times the stored electrochemical energy. Acute Toxic gases and Inflammable Gases are “dangerous substances” controlled by COMAH 2015. Quantities present “if control of the process is lost” determine the applicability of COMAH.”

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  William Astley
August 3, 2021 5:14 pm

Endothermic reactions by definition produce less energy than the reactants contained. Energy has to be supplied from the outside to move the reaction forward. Obviously, this fire was highly exothermic. Like solid rocket fuel, it has both the fuel and the oxidizer so you cannot smother it to put it out.

Philip Armbruster
Reply to  Tom
August 3, 2021 4:01 pm

The blaze spread to a second battery container which begs the questions.

Are they designed/built too close to each other?

Should the entire thing now be rebuilt with greater spacing between them?
Who Pays?
I read an article several months ago that Fire authorities were concerned about tesla installation in houses and requested that they be housed in separate structures and that building regulations be changed to reflect this.

After all in Australia all Hot water installations have to be set at over 50C with tempering valves installed to reduce the incidence of Legionnaires disease which has never been linked back to Hot water systems. The regulated temperature is 45C to ensure no children are scalded. Crazy complication for a non existent problem so why can’t they see the danger of Lithium Ion Batteries?

Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 3, 2021 5:33 pm

The batteries burn rather than explode.

Belgian terrorists in the 1970s used gas canister bombs in multi story car parks so the blast would go sideways maximizing the shrapnel; like a claymore mine.

bill Johnston
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 3, 2021 6:13 pm

I remember that also. The local hardware store sold dynamite but stored it off-site. Building looked like a concrete outhouse. (Ask grandpa about those!)

John Hultquist
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 3, 2021 9:34 pm

 Friends of Britain built ordnance facilities in northern Pennsylvania with three hard sides and one soft. An explosion would leave most of the building standing and they could get back to work quickly.
About Us – Eldred PA World War II Museum (

Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 4, 2021 1:50 pm

The wooden ‘garage’ across the street from us is an old powder shed for a mine. All the walls were filled with 4″ of sand, which was let out when the building was moved to its present location 40-odd years ago.

Reply to  Philip Armbruster
August 3, 2021 4:53 pm

Who pays is never in doubt.

Robert Hanson
August 3, 2021 4:58 pm

Anyone have an idea what this puppy cost to build?

I won’t even ask about taking it apart now, hauling it away, and decontamination. I’m pretty sure it’s much too big a job for 1-800-Got Junk. (:

Mark D
Reply to  Robert Hanson
August 3, 2021 6:18 pm

How would you like to be on the clean up crew? Isn’t that similar to bomb disposal?
Yes I know it burns not explodes yet you remain next to something that could erase you…

Frank from NoVA
August 3, 2021 5:20 pm

62 responses as I type this – where’s griff…..

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
August 3, 2021 5:37 pm

It’ll tell us that a car once burst into flames, so batteries are safer.

Andy Pattullo
August 3, 2021 5:29 pm

It is impressive that the battery burned and provided heat for three days when the whole setup is only able to replace grid power for about 1.5 hours. Maybe Elon is really just trying to make catastrophic global warming real so he can say “I told you so”. Who brought the marshmallows?

August 3, 2021 5:46 pm

Somehow, people here don’t seem to notice the parallel between a runaway reaction in a lithium battery and a runaway reaction in a nuclear power plant, yet I suspect there is more or less unanimous approval here of more nuclear power plants. Of course, the consequences of a nuclear power plant runaway can be very catastrophic as we have seen with Chernobyl and Fukushima. There are risks which can be managed, but never eliminated and human error is always lurking. Part of the problem is that some people don’t know what they don’t know, but it doesn’t keep the from blathering. Nevertheless, I know that some of you will keep on clapping for the lithium battery fires.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Tom
August 3, 2021 6:34 pm

Chernobyl was a deliberate act, albeit a mistake. The equipment was also very antiquated.

Fukushima was caused by stupid preventable design in not having backup generators above possible tsunami depths. It actually proved how stable nuclear reactors can be, even in very extreme disasters, and even being 40 years old.

Show me a still working 40 year old ‘renewable’ energy generator or battery.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 4, 2021 6:20 am

Even with additional electric input, the whole bars system was flooded AFAIK.
And then many other errors were made.

Dave R
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 4, 2021 12:32 pm

Hardly. Fukushima essentially got squished as a result of bananas-type tsunami forecasting. When the cooling plant was submerged c/o failing pumps, hydrogen and oxy did their terrible stuff.

Nick B
Reply to  Tom
August 3, 2021 6:48 pm

Nuclear power plants grew exponentially in Europe. Until Chernobyl… New nuclear plant were stopped after Chernobyl and Soviets starts selling gas to Europe.
Conspiracy, but a solid chance to be true.

Reply to  Nick B
August 4, 2021 6:21 am

Don’t forget the TMI so called “accident”

Jim G
Reply to  Tom
August 3, 2021 9:07 pm

Chernobyl was caused by a design flaw, i.e. positive void coefficient, and procedural violations. Sadly, had the procedures been followed, the accident would not have occured.

Reply to  Jim G
August 4, 2021 6:22 am

Positive is OK, large positive is bad. Moderated, water cooled, natural U is bad; Chernobyl like reactors with enriched U were better.

Jim G
Reply to  niceguy
August 4, 2021 4:42 pm

a positive void coeficient means that reactor power increases if you have steam bubbles in the reactor core. Positive reactivity means it reinforces the condition by increasing power which increases temperature, which then increases steam bubbles and so on. You can’t have a reactor without both positive and negative reactivity. The goal is to prevent excursions.

Chernobyl would not have had the accident if they had not violated safety protocols. But, they needed to show that they conducted the test, and so on they went.

Another issue they had was at the bottom of the control rods they had graphite. This also introduced positive reactivity (increasing reactor power) when the rods were scrammed.

All reactors use enriched uranium. Commercial is typically pretty modest of about 3-5% enrichment.

Except for some experimental reactors suing molten salts, water and graphite are both moderators. Water is much safer than graphite as the density changes due to temperature changes adding positive and negative reactivity accordingly. Pressurized is safer than BWRs because it removes the radioactive water away from the steam turbines by creating primary and secondary systems.

Reply to  Jim G
August 5, 2021 4:02 am

All reactors use enriched uranium”
Source of that claim?

Jim G.
Reply to  niceguy
August 5, 2021 5:52 pm

Name one the doesn’t

Reply to  Jim G.
August 6, 2021 1:44 pm

The one we the French invented!

Jim G.
Reply to  niceguy
August 6, 2021 10:12 pm

I hope you’re not referring to the EPR.
10 years+ overdue and 4x over budget?
Problems with welds now.
It still lists 5% encriched uranium as a fuel with potential alternatives.

You appeared to dislike Pressurized Water Reactors.
According to this list, all of France’s reactors are PWRs.
Nuclear Power in France | French Nuclear Energy – World Nuclear Association (

John Endicott
Reply to  Tom
August 4, 2021 3:41 am

And yet, despite a couple of famous (and overhyped) incidents, The Nuclear power industry has the best safety record of all power industries bar none. Comparing a couple of outliers (no one died from the accidents mentioned) in a safety record that spans multiple decades, to the much more frequent and frankly more deadly incidents of battery-caused fires is utterly ridiculous.

Last edited 11 months ago by John Endicott
Reply to  Tom
August 4, 2021 5:46 am

It is almost impossible to a nuclear power plant to “runaway”.

Fukushima was not a runaway reactor.
Chernobyl was a bad design that was rejected by the west because it wasn’t safe.

Regardless, 3 accidents over 60 years, despite there being thousands of nuclear reactors in the world.

Your paranoia regarding all things nuclear has already been noted.

Reply to  MarkW
August 4, 2021 6:23 am

Chernobyl was a bad design that was rejected by the west because it wasn’t safe”
What is the source of that made up claim?

Timo, not that one
Reply to  niceguy
August 4, 2021 7:00 am

It seems to me to be self evident. A reactor without a containment building never existed in the West.

Reply to  Timo, not that one
August 5, 2021 4:03 am

Another BS claim

John Endicott
Reply to  niceguy
August 4, 2021 7:23 am

That it was a deeply flawed design is well known and (according to an article in the NYT shortly after the incident) was pointed out to the soviets by western nations 9 years before Chernobyl happened. The fact that not a single western reactor uses that design attests to the fact the it was rejected by the west – likely for the very reasons cited 9 years prior to the incident

Reply to  John Endicott
August 5, 2021 4:04 am

More BS claims.
So for you, the fact no country outside UK used the UK design implies it’s flawed? That no country used Canada design implies it’s sh*t?

John Endicott
Reply to  niceguy
August 5, 2021 5:29 pm

I see you have massive reading comprehensions problems there niceguy.

1) If other countries aren’t using the UK & canada designs then yes you can say other countries rejected them. However, that alone doesn’t make those designs necessarily bad (and if you had any ability to comprehended what you were reading, you would have realized no one claimed that alone makes them bad). That only half the issue, the other half is:
2) It’s the fact that the Soviets were warned years in advance that their design was bad.(IE the design was known to be bad) And because the soviets ignored that advice, Chernobyl happened

It’s the combination of those two factors, not just the first factor alone. But hey, why let the fact get in the way of *YOUR* bs claims niceguy. Easier to spout off on something you clearly know nothing about.

Last edited 10 months ago by John Endicott
Jim G
Reply to  niceguy
August 4, 2021 4:51 pm

There are several issues that create design weaknesses.

  1. Graphite at the bottom of the control rods adds positive reactiviy when the rods are scrammed.
  2. A positive void coefficient. As bubbles form in the core, reator power (and suface temp of the fuel rods) increases, creating more bubbles. Without further steam demand this should reach a new steady state, but in the case of the accident, it added a massive amount fo positive reactivity in a short period of time.
  3. During the test, they had pulled nearly all the rods to the top to overcome xenon buildup. (Xenon is a neutron poison that is natural fission product.

We studied this in 1989.
Nuclear News had a good write up of it at the time.
The article cited the number of megacuries of contamination that were released and tons of material that was dumped on the reactor to control it. Very intimidating.

If safety protocols had been followed, the explosion would not have occured.

Nick B
August 3, 2021 5:47 pm

Interesting question – which battery will burn longer, fully charged or depleted?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Nick B
August 3, 2021 6:35 pm

I don’t think depleted batteries would burn for very long, there’s much less chemical energy to release.

Jim G
Reply to  Nick B
August 3, 2021 9:22 pm

Being charged is why they burn when their is a cell failure.
Current = voltage/resistance. For a short circuit, R is very low (milliohms) so current is very high.
Heat produced (power in watts) will be the current squared * resistance of the short. Very high current, lots of heat released, until the battery depletes.

Inside the cells they have lots of ~3.7 to 4.2v batteries.
Some of these are connected in series to increase the voltage, and then these strands are connected in parallel to increase the current available.
End result is a lot of power in a relatively small space.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Jim G
August 4, 2021 12:59 am

Inside the cells they have lots of ~3.7 to 4.2v batteries.

Slight misuse of terms. The battery is made up of cells. It is actually a battery of cells. Your typical AA ‘battery, for example, is actually a ‘cell’. Use more than one, and you’re using a ‘battery’.

Reply to  Nick B
August 4, 2021 2:16 pm

Ask this guy:

August 3, 2021 6:43 pm

Do we have any reliable statistics on the actual percentage of ICE vehicle fires, compared with the actual percentage of EV battery fires, over a given period of, say, the last decade?

This is a common problem with the news-reporting of Covid-19 infections and deaths. For comparison purposes one needs to know the rate ‘per capita’ of infections and deaths in each country.

If EVs have a significantly higher rate of battery fires than ICE vehicles, say, per 100,000 vehicles, then that’s a major problem that has to be fixed, and/or a great disincentive to purchase an EV.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Vincent
August 3, 2021 7:08 pm

I’d guesstimate that the %age of spontaneously igniting ICEVs is substantially lower than for EVs. There are very few EVs and I’ve heard of many igniting.

Another point is that diesel ICEs are far less likely to spontaneously ignite. Diesel is just not flammable until quite hot. Kerosene, as used by jet engines, too.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 4, 2021 3:46 am

Doing a search on the internet, I came across the following site:

“From 2012 – 2020, there has been approximately one Tesla vehicle fire for every 205 million miles traveled. By comparison, data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation shows that in the United States there is a vehicle fire for every 19 million miles traveled.”

This implies that the risk of a Tesla EV bursting into flames is less than 1/10th of the risk of an ICE vehicle bursting into flames.
However, as the article mentions, the average age of ICE vehicles is greater than the average age of EVs, so this could skew the results, because older vehicles might be more vulnerable to catching fire.

Richard Page
Reply to  Vincent
August 4, 2021 5:25 am

Now compare fatalities from Tesla vs ICE fires as well as ease of extinguishing. It’s an iffy sort of argument to make though: “we know your car will burst into flames at some point, incinerating the occupants, but it would be so much worse in an ICE car!” I would rather they worked on a battery that couldn’t explode rather than telling me I should be grateful for having anything at all.

Reply to  Vincent
August 4, 2021 5:52 am

Looking at the name of the site you found, I’d be very, very surprised if any of the information they provide is accurate.

You also have to look at the causes and consequences of fires of both types.
The vast majority of times, fires in ICE vehicles occur after accidents. Many of these fires are small and easy to put out. It’s rare for an ICE car to be gutted by a fire.
Electrics on the other hand can catch fire after an accident, or during charging. Once a fire starts in an electric vehicle, it can’t be put out.

John Endicott
Reply to  MarkW
August 4, 2021 7:37 am

Also note the title “Tesla reveals How often it’s Cars burn from fire”. No conflict of interest there.

Also note the article specifies that “Both numbers include “instances of vehicle fires caused by structure fires, arson, and other things unrelated to the vehicle,” Every ICE car you saw being set on fire during the mostly peaceful protests last year would be counted as a car fire even though the ICE design had nothing to do with it. In other words, they’re padding the numbers to make it look better for EVs than it really is. How about comparing just fires related to the vehicle?

And it’s not just the cars catching fire that’s a problem for EVs but the fire re-igniting as well as Chemical hazards and high-voltage shocks – all of which make them more dangerous for first responders to deal with when an accident does happen.

Last edited 11 months ago by John Endicott
Reply to  MarkW
August 4, 2021 9:29 am

“It’s rare for an ICE car to be gutted by a fire”

That may be statistically correct, but does not match my experience with vehicle fires.

Reply to  Vincent
August 4, 2021 9:28 am

I would be curious how many of those ICE vehicle fires were spontaneous, vs. the Tesla fires.

Also, Tesla isn’t the only EV.

August 3, 2021 7:21 pm

Let’s see: 450 megawatt hours. Average US household consumes 850+ kwh per month = 1.2 kwh consumed per hour. 450 megawatt hours will back up 375K households for 1 hour.
The Victoria 600 MWh battery was expected to cost $300M so I guess the 450 MWh would be at least $225M.
$225M/375K households = $600 per household for 1 hour backup.
Seems like a lot to me…

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  c1ue
August 4, 2021 1:04 am

There is no other way to make unreliables work. In fact, without fossil fuels as backup (and spinning to avoid starting times), even the batteries are useless unless they can cover an entire period with no wind or solar.

In fact, when you think about it, both wind and solar must produce enough to power the whole state when the other is not working, AND the power to recharge these batteries. You probably need at least 4x the existing capacity, and not just at peak output, to make unreliables work at all.

Last edited 11 months ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 4, 2021 9:31 am

Zig Zag – yet so many seem incapable of understanding such a basic concept.

August 3, 2021 8:11 pm

Keeping you informed….Doubters in ZPE (and Andrea Rossi) please ignore…

 2021-08-03 04:44 Martyn Aubrey
Dear Dr Rossi,
You replied “1” to Chris’s question asking if the Ecat SKL has “1) More reliability with inductive loads?”
Does this mean that the Ecat SKL is now capable of powering an electric vehicle?
Thank you if you can answer.
Kind regards
Martyn Aubrey
2021-08-03 10:26 Andrea Rossi
Martyn Aubrey:
On its way [maybe 2022]
Warm Regards,
A.R. Ref:

see also

August 3, 2021 10:24 pm

Most everyone I know has a laptop and a cellphone, both with a Lithium Ion battery, and is either on the couch or in/near bed all night with them. I am surprised there isn’t more fires happening from these devices. Even a cell phone that catches fire has the capacity to burn down the entire condo/house. I have dozens of li-on batteries in tools and gadgets/computers and so far, touch wood.
But is a reminder to turn everything off and charge and store them in a safe place. Note to self…don’t put the new lithium batteries in the RV closet, although LiFePO4 deep cycle Lithium iron phosphate batteries don’t represent nearly the same risk as Li-On. However many of these less expensive affordable ones are made in China, which should be my first clue as to longevity.

Louis Hunt
August 3, 2021 11:29 pm

I just read about a battery that uses iron instead of lithium. They claim it will be out in 2023, but it is only experimental at the moment. It rusts iron particles and then removes oxygen to restore the rusted iron back to its original form. How that works, I do not know. Is this real, or another boondoggle?

August 3, 2021 11:32 pm

And that was just a ‘ test ‘ of one battery .
Obviously a fail .
Will they test the rest or change the test .
Very testing indeed .

Cecil S. Teddy
August 4, 2021 12:22 am

Almost as bad a 45 day fire in a brown coal mine in the same state in 2014. LOL

August 4, 2021 1:27 am

I’m not sure I believe this story. I’ve checked the BBC’s website for news of this so-called battery fire and there’s nothing.

Fact check: FALSE

(I don’t really need to point out that this is sarcasm, do I?)

August 4, 2021 1:50 am

How can we dance
When our turbines aren’t turning
How do we sleep
While our batteries are burning

Apologies to Midnight Oil.

August 4, 2021 1:56 am

Can we say Chernobyl like?

August 4, 2021 2:36 am

Could a hacker could subvert the battery charging software that controls the rate of charge and monitors temperature? Now imagine that being sent as an over the air update.

August 4, 2021 4:27 am

When are we going to get a class action law suite against Apple, Tesla, etc., initiated by Congolese children to compensate for their premature death at the age of 12 suffering from myocardiopathy, where their hearts expand due to inhalation and contact with Cobalt.

August 4, 2021 4:36 am

I am an expert in plastics, plastics manufacturing and fire safety. Lithium Ion batteries rely on an extremely thin plastic film to separate the anodic fluid and cathodic fluid from coming into contact with each other. If they come into contact the result is an extremely exothermic reaction, explosion and subsequent fire. It is impossible to make a film that is 100% defect free from contamination and gels and unmelts. Failures are inevitable.

August 4, 2021 7:22 am

“Imagine if people were crazy enough to install these difficult to extinguish battery incendiary devices in their homes or automobiles, or near populated areas.”

You must dispose of your mobile phone, kids electric toys, electric screw drivers, electric drills, electric tooth brushes, and of course laptops. Or of course you can go to the bottom of the garden with your portables for safety.

Or are you having a larf?

Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 4, 2021 12:17 pm

Wrong analogy. The real analogy is a 1 gallon gas can in your garage vs an Exxon Mobile/Shell/BP Gasoline tank farm for filling semi-tractor trailers in your garage.

Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 4, 2021 2:09 pm

In this case, size does matter.

August 4, 2021 7:40 am

Meanwhile they export vast tonnages of iron…..

Battery Technology | Form Energy

August 4, 2021 7:48 am

Asking again, WHO is looking into the release of all of this Lithium into the environment? This could easily be worse than the Lead additive to gasoline debacle.

Last edited 11 months ago by usurbrain
Reply to  Rich Lentz
August 4, 2021 2:08 pm

Well, extra environmental lithium might calm people down….

August 4, 2021 11:20 am

the practice of storing large batteries near or inside homes should cease

does this imply that the “Powerwall” type product is problematic for personal home garages & basements?

Last edited 11 months ago by Rhee
Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Rhee
August 4, 2021 3:09 pm


August 4, 2021 11:03 pm

Are the eco-nazis seeing this?

“Authorities had warned of toxic smoke billowing from the site”

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