Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Devils Tower – What made the Felicity Ace cargo so flammable? “It was not clear whether the [EV] batteries first sparked the fire”.
Felicity Ace Car Carrier Continues to Burn in Mid-Atlantic – Photos
Reuters February 18, 2022
A salvage team from SMIT is en route to the retreive the abandoned M/V Felicity Ace, which continues to burn near the Azores.
BERLIN/LISBON, Feb 18 (Reuters) – A ship carrying around 4,000 vehicles, including Porsches, Audis and Bentleys, that caught fire near the coast of the Azores will be towed to another European country or the Bahamas, the captain of the nearest port told Reuters on Friday.
Lithium-ion batteries in the electric cars on board the vehicle carrier Felicity Ace have caught fire and the blaze requires specialist equipment to extinguish, captain Joao Mendes Cabecas of the port of Hortas said.
It was not clear whether the batteries first sparked the fire.
“The ship is burning from one end to the other… everything is on fire about five meters above the water line,” Cabecas said.
…Read more: https://gcaptain.com/felicity-ace-car-carrier-continues-to-burn-in-mid-atlantic/
We may never know if an EV started the fire, but even if the EVs didn’t start the fire, they are certainly making it a lot more difficult to extinguish the fire. EV battery fires are chemically comparable to thermite fires, hot enough to melt steel, so there may not be much left to analyse by the time the ship fire finally burns itself out.
This disaster could have real consequences for the EV market, both transporting EVs by sea or land, and consumer desire for a product which is potentially such a severe fire hazard. I would not be surprised if in the future, once insurers understand the hazard, owning an EV could make your home uninsurable, unless you can prove it is parked well away from your house.
At the very least insurers may start demanding strict end of use dates on the batteries. The hazard likely grows as the battery ages, though if the Felicity Ace fire was started by a new battery, you can never say the hazard is zero.
The following video demonstrates how ferocious EV fires can be in a home environment – and this fire is just an electric scooter. Automobile batteries are far larger. How much would be left of your house, how much time would you have to get to safety, if an electric automobile caught fire in a built in garage or car port? EV fires are not constrained by lack of oxygen. The battery itself contains everything necessary to initiate and sustain a deadly, white hot fire which is almost impossible to extinguish.