The burning issue of electric cars. Getting hotter! OK, it was a bus

In February, Kulmbach in Bavaria became the first German city to close underground garages to e-cars.

A fire at a bus depot in Hanover caused millions of euros in damage. According to fire fighters, the fire broke out on Saturday afternoon at the Üstra transport company where electric buses were parked,

According to Üstra spokesman Udo Iwannek, the fire caused damage running in the millions. Five e-buses, two hybrids and two combustion engines were destroyed, as were also the building and the charging station.

Look on the bright side, it could have been a hydrogen-driven bus with people in it.

How can happen with moving pictures. And jolly music!  You probably need a twitter account to access this. This was an episode in a bus depot in China. Same story really.

Electric-Bus Inferno In Hanover-Germany…Explosive Fire Causes “Millions In Damages”

UPDATE.  A briefing note about to be released by the Energy Realists.

21.11 electric vehicles email revised

This entry was posted in Electric Power and Energy, Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to The burning issue of electric cars. Getting hotter! OK, it was a bus

  1. bemused says:

    Imagine peak hour on any freeway or tunnel when there’s an accident involving a zero emissions car that erupts into flames. Where do the people go on a clogged freeway or tunnel and the danger if more than one zero emissions car is involved? Have one or two of these go up next to a truck carrying hazardous cargo and all the fun of a fair will ensue.

  2. Perplexed of Brisbane says:

    Bemused,

    At least in the tunnels in QLD, there are cross passages for people to evacuate to the clear tunnel. They also have massive deluge systems.

    Also, hazardous materials are not allowed in the tunnels (doesn’t mean someone won’t, either by accident or choice, take some in).

    Plus the smoke extraction systems are incredible.

    A lot of lessons were learned from the Swiss tunnel disaster.

  3. bemused says:

    Perplexed of Brisbane says:
    June 13, 2021 at 11:45 am

    I was talking about a clogged freeway with trucks carrying hazardous materials. That said, and despite what experiences are overseas to date, no one has any experience of incidents where there are numerous zero emissions cars on the road. Once a bunch of them go up in a confined/clogged space, setting off conventional vehicles around them, they will no longer be zero emissions/carbon neural.

    Mind you, I’m sure our experts will tell us it’s perfectly safe.

  4. Perplexed of Brisbane says:

    Bemused,

    Imagine peak hour on any freeway or tunnel

    On an open freeway, it may be worse than in a tunnel as there is nothing to contain the flames (deluge systems) or redirect the gases (air handling systems), no hydrants in proximity and none of the other systems I mentioned in the tunnels.

    Depending on the time of day and where the fire occurs, it will likely be more difficult for emergency services to get there as well.

    I wasn’t disagreeing with you, just pointing out some of the safety features of tunnels that could assist in containing the incident until everyone is evacuated. The highway is a different story. See the fire and run in the opposite direction.

  5. Eyrie says:

    See the fire and run in the opposite direction.

    Preferably upwind or directly crosswind.

  6. egg_ says:

    EV’s become an even bigger car-b-que.

  7. bemused says:

    Perplexed of Brisbane says:
    June 13, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    Yes, I understood your specific example, though given examples of Tesla fires, like in the link, I wonder if the deluge systems are sufficient and look at the fumes/smoke that comes from the Tesla fire? In such an accident in a tunnel, do you think people would move in an orderly fashion or go into a blind panic?

    I really don’t think anyone pushing for wholesale adoption of these cars has really given any thought to the unintended consequences. It’s not just being able to power the vehicles and the impact on such things as emergency vehicles etc, but the real world dangers that wide spread adoption can cause.

  8. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Interesting thing is the tweet is from Chinese state run People’s Daily. They don’t seem to be greatly concerned about hurting the image of Gaia’s holy electric buses.

  9. wal1957 says:

    My recent issue of the RACQ magazine had an article on hydrogen fueled cars.
    In it they wrote that hydrogen could be easily transported as a gas or liquid and was no more dangerous than petrol. I always thought that hydrogen was far more volatile than petrol and also susceptible to leaks. Is the RACQ wrong or am I?
    Can anyone with knowledge of the pros/cons of hydrogen please post.

  10. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    RACQ is wrong. Petrol is reasonably benign since it’s a liquid. Hydrogen is a gas that requires compression to very high kPa to be stored compactly enough for a vehicle.

    It’d actually be safer to run cars off acetylene than hydrogen, because a cylinder of acetylene contains acetone, in which acetylene is very soluble. So you can store a lot of acetylene in a cylinder without excessive pressure. Can’t do it with hydrogen that I know of.

  11. bemused says:

    Bruce of Newcastle says:
    June 13, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    Hydrogen can also cause embrittlement in certain materials, which increases the maintenance and materials cost.

    Acetylene is not a good substitute as the cylinders must be stored upright due to the liquid acetone contained within. Also, acetylene bottles are susceptible to heat (which will result in increased cylinder pressures) and so not the best fuel source for Australia.

  12. wal1957 says:

    Thanks for the info Bruce and Bemused.
    I think the RACQ magazine has been going ‘greener’ of late.
    The author of the story must , (I assume) believe what he wrote.

  13. John A says:

    Bruce of Newcastle says: June 13, 2021, at 12:57 pm

    The interesting thing is the tweet is from the Chinese state-run People’s Daily. They don’t seem to be greatly concerned about hurting the image of Gaia’s holy electric buses.

    Maybe they ARE interested enough to say NIMBY thank you very much!

    Or nefariously, “WEAPONISE AND SEND TO THE WEST.”

  14. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Bemused – I’m not advocating acetylene. The Greens would not like it anyway because the synthetic method is rather disliked by Gaia.

    I have said many times that methanol is preferable to hydrogen.

    CO2 + 3H2 → CH3OH + H2O

    The methanol can be handled just like petrol with no changes in logistics. Cars would need small changes to use it, but nothing like what would be needed for hydrogen.

    Methanol is carbon neutral if the CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere, which many climate people are advocating and working on. I don’t know why climate people ignore it as an option, especially since it’s reasonably economic.

  15. bemused says:

    Bruce of Newcastle says:
    June 13, 2021 at 2:46 pm

    I was slightly confused as to why you mentioned acetylene.

    The problem with methanol is that is has around half the calorific content of petrol or diesel, so you require twice as much (in broad terms) to get the same benefit.

    The other issue is that methanol is predominantly produced from natural gas, a product that is frowned upon by the green zealots.

    You can produce methanol from coal, but it’s more expensive and more polluting than producing petrol or diesel from hydrocarbons. And soon you won’t be allowed to mine coal.

    Methanol is also corrosive to rubber and some metals.

  16. Eyrie says:

    Methanol is carbon neutral if the CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere, which many climate people are advocating and working on. I don’t know why climate people ignore it as an option, especially since it’s reasonably economic.

    You might be better to make liquid methane than hydrogen by using atmospheric CO2 and water via Sabatier process. I’m uncertain about how to go from methane to higher hydrocarbons. If you can do that it is only the first step that needs changing, the rest of the infrastructure is already in place.

  17. Boambee John says:

    Bruce of N

    Methanol is carbon neutral if the CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere, which many climate people are advocating and working on. I don’t know why climate people ignore it as an option, especially since it’s reasonably economic.

    They Green fascists don’t want a workable solution.

  18. Rafe Champion says:

    The NRMA in NSW is really excited about electric vehicles. Don’t know how powerful it is as a lobby but they are doing their best!

  19. Bad Samaritan says:

    All this fart-arseing around has me beat. Why would any f’wit be considering hydrogen, or lithium or acetylene or thorium or even plutonium, when there’s a petrol station on every corner already?…

    Recently bought a new small petrol car that gives me around 22 ks to the litre. I drive it 700 ks and then fill it for <$40 in 5 minutes. At current petrol prices (yeah, I know) when the 7 years warranty is up and I've done about 150,000 ks, fuel will have cost about $8000-$9000. The car was $16,500 and has almost every un-necessary gadget imaginable.

    Only total f'wits would consider this fossil-fuel-powered car to be "a problem" (yeah, I know why this too)

    BTW: In Bowen there's a brand new 12 pump petrol station just opened. On the highway, half-way to Proserpine (30 ks) another with maybe the same. In Prossy another brand-new one with about 16 pumps. In Cannonvale (=Airlie Beach, 25 ks from Prossy another new one. ). Not sure about Mackay, but at Sarina (35ks south of Mackay) a huge new one…maybe 20 pumps+. I see no indication whatsoever that fossil fuels will be outta fashion anytime soon FFS, so why all the BS?.

  20. Eyrie says:

    I see no indication whatsoever that fossil fuels will be outta fashion anytime soon FFS, so why all the BS?.

    Green virtue signaling but fuckwits who know no maths, physics or engineering.
    Unfortunately the pollies don’t know any either so they listen to the squeaky wheel.

  21. Bad Samaritan says:

    Hey Eyrie. Likewise, every mining town for hundreds of kilometres is crying out for tradesmen of every stripe as the mining booms. Moranbah, Glenden, Dysart, Nebo, Copabella, Middlemount, Clermont etc etc etc (where’s RockDoctor to rattle a few more names off?),

    Driving the back-road from Moranbah to Collinsville via Lake Elphinstone (great free time-unlimited camping area there for Cats on the go!) two weeks ago, it’s nought but busy busy with miners and mines going 24/7.

    These anti-fossil-fuel d’heads trying to stop them are the same drongos out to ban hetero sex are they not? What chance of them succeeding with their dreams in either case, eh? Less than F all!

  22. RobK says:

    Rafe,
    Did you check out john Reids blog http://blackjay.net.au/limits-to-growth/
    It’s worth a look. The upshot is we haven’t the resources for a fast transmission to eliminate fossil fuels, even though they will become scarcer over time.

  23. RobK says:

    Transition, not transmission

  24. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    You might be better to make liquid methane than hydrogen by using atmospheric CO2 and water via Sabatier process.

    Eyrie – Methane is nearly as bad for cars as hydrogen is. Same for CNG, which has been discussed here on the back of the Qld projects. CNG is too hard to use. Whereas LPG made inroads into the vehicular market rapidly…because it can be liquefied at a reasonable temperature and pressure, whereas CNG, methane and hydrogen can’t.

  25. mareeS says:

    Hey, bad Samaritan, Eyrie, same in WA. Nothing remotely like EV for son and his mates in the Pilbara, diesel and avgas fifo the only way there.

  26. BlokeInAShed says:

    They (governments) don’t want to know about any of the downsides.
    In this podcast (link) Gordon Murray briefly gives his concise opinion on the main problems, apart from range, with battery electric vehicles (listen from 41.43 to 44.20).
    Interestingly he notes that the UK has, what he considers, to be one of the best Automotive Councils in the world, which the government (Boris’s) hasn’t consulted at all about any of this stuff.

    (For those who may not know, Gordon Murray is a designer of championship winning formula 1 racing cars, the McLaren F1 sports car, many other things and all round Colin Chapman type bloke)

  27. Wally says:

    Fire Departments in the USA are resorting to pushing EVs into swimming pools as they can’t put the fires out …… Hmmmm

  28. Rafe Champion says:

    Sounds like a plan!

  29. a reader says:

    When IndyCars used Methanol (they’re currently on Ethanol due to a government subsidy a few years back), the engineers used to run petrol through them after a race weekend to clean them out. The engines produced plenty of power but methanol requires a lot of fuel to use. However it can be dispersed in an fire/leak with plain water. Certainly can’t do that with an electric car

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