November 17, 2023

NORWAY: Norwegian Shipping Company Banned Electric Cars, Hybrids And Hydrogen Vehicles On Its Passenger And Cargo Ferries Because Of A Potential Fire Hazard.

Energy Storage Journal
written by Staff
January 26, 2023

Norwegian shipping company, Havila Kystruten announced on January 12 that it is banning electric cars, hybrids and hydrogen vehicles on its ferries because of a potential fire hazard. This follows a risk analysis conducted by Proactima, a Norwegian risk management advisory consultancy, according to chief executive Bent Martini.

The ferries operate along the coast from Kirkenes in the far north of Norway to Bergen in the south.

Historically, one in three electric vehicles fires has occurred with ‘no obvious cause’ while the car was parked, according to a 2021 report by research consultancy IdTechEx.

The startling figures show that 17% of EV fires occur in regular driving and a quarter occur when charging.

While electric vehicles do not pose a greater fire hazard than regular cars, their fires are more difficult to put out. They require a considerably larger amount of water to extinguish. While a burning petrol or diesel vehicle may need 1,600 to2,000 litres of water to be put out, a fire in an EV often requires as much as 11,000 litres, mainly to cool down the burningbattery.

In April 2021 a fatal EV crash in Texas took more than four hours and 30,000 gallons (110,000 litres) of water to extinguish, according to firefighters at the scene.

Worries over the high risk of electric cars catching alight on board ships were brought to the fore last February with the fire and subsequent sinking of the Felicity Ace. Its cargo of 3,965 EVs was the suspected cause of the incident.

There is a certain irony in the move given that Norway has the largest number of EVs per capita in the world and some80% of new registrations are EVs.

Other ferry companies have yet to follow suit. TT-Line, which operates between Sweden, Lithuania, Poland and Germany installs charging stations for electric vehicles on board its ships.

written by Cristian Agatie
January 23, 2023

Li-Ion batteries in electric vehicles pose a significant fire risk, which was further emphasized after the Felicity Ace cargo ship sank almost a year ago. Following a safety assessment regarding fire risks, a Norwegian ferry company decided to ban all but purely ICE vehicles from its vessels.

Statistics tell us that electric vehicles catch fire from time to time, although those fires are far less common than people imagine. EV fires are less frequent than those affecting ICE vehicles. Nevertheless, EV fires pose a higher risk because they are much harder to extinguish. Li-Ion batteries contain highly flammable electrolytes, and chemical reactions during thermal runaway events generate oxygen. This is why putting out a Li-Ion battery fire requires special firefighting techniques and huge amounts of water.

The combination of highly flammable chemicals and oxygen also makes the Li-Ion batteries burn at significantly higher temperatures than ICE fires. That’s a challenge for shipping companies because high-temperature fires can cripple a ship. In February 2022, the Felicity Ace cargo ship carrying 4,000 cars, including electric vehicles, sank after an onboard fire basically consumed the ship. It’s unclear what started the fire, but the hundreds of electric cars onboard made it impossible to extinguish. It burned until there was nothing left to burn, at which point the ship’s hull was too affected to stay afloat.

In the aftermath of the disaster, there were heated discussions about changes to the shipping industry. Some even hinted at banning electric vehicles from shipping, with several companies considering taking this drastic step. In the latest development, Havila Krystruten, a Norwegian ferry company, banned electrified vehicles from its ships. These include not only EVs but also hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles.

Before jumping to conclusions, Havila Krystruten operates a cruise ferry coastal route, mostly destined for tourists. The journey between Bergen and Kierkenes takes 12 days, while a direct land route takes around 28 hours. The EV ban is for vehicles transported on its four passenger ships, not for purely cargo transports. This will not likely affect EV transport in a country that bet everything on electric cars. The reason for the ban was that the company’s ships didn’t have the capability to extinguish Li-Ion battery fires due to their faster and hotter burn.

“A possible fire in electric, hybrid, or hydrogen cars will require external rescue efforts and can endanger people on board and the ships,” company’s CEO Bent Martini said to TradeWinds. “We take security seriously, and it is, of course, a risk we are under no circumstances willing to take.”

The irony is that the four ships Havila Krystruten operates are all electrified and carry the largest battery packs installed on any passenger vessel. Nevertheless, the company claims the batteries are installed in isolated and fireproof rooms with specific fire protection systems in accordance with current requirements for fire safety on ships.

No comments: