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Lituueum Powered buses and trains make fire departments nervous

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Saturday, August 21, 2021 9:50 PM

Just ask the fire department in Morris IL how well pouring water on a lithium battery fire works.  The explosions could be heard in Chicago 60 freaking miles away when those batteries started to blow from getting wetted down trying to put them out.  250 tons worth of lithium batteries was in that fire.  It took weeks be totally extinguished and some people were forced out of their homes for a week.  Yeah it was a bad one but people say that those batteries are better for the environment than gas or diesel engines.  

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, August 22, 2021 7:44 PM

It may be that many rural fire departments will need to get larger tankers.  But how can they afford any ?  Maybe some haz mat companies and food grade trailers can donate liquid trailers that have expired certifications.  But that does not solve the problem of tractors ?

Maybe battery vehicle builders will need to buy necessary trailers.  Would be especially important along RRs that start using battery locos.

Plus there are many rural roads roads that could not take a TT weight of 60 - 80,000 weight.

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Posted by alphas on Monday, August 23, 2021 12:29 AM

I was an active VFF for about 30 years until age caught up with me in 1998.   One of my memories was using one engine water load (500 gallon) and most of both of our 2 tankers  (4000 gallons total) on a car fire because it had manganese wheels.  It was on the shoulder of one of our interstates so the police wanted it put out rather than letting it burn itself out.    The tow truck operator refused to touch it until 10 minutes went by without it reigniting.

Another one several years later was an arson fire of a 30x30 school storage shed [but in close proximity with the school] that had many manganese large tent poles in it.   This fire had "good" hydrants so we didn't need tankers.   We used 2 of our towers each supplied by a 5" line plus several ground deluge monitors that were each fed by two 3" supply lines from the engines.    We flowed around 2400 gpm and it still took close to an hour before the tent poles stopped reigniting.

I never saw a Lithium fire but if its worse than manganese it would be a nightmare for any fire department.      

Fire tankers today are more complex than the normal over the road transporters.   Using "cast off" non-fire tankers is not a solution for many departments as mentioned in another post.   They tend to be too big for some rural roads and too heavy for some of the rural bridges.    They usually take too long to fill and require greater turn areas at the fill and drop tank sites.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, August 23, 2021 1:35 AM

The following being developed in Australia may be the answer?

Remote controlled firefighting tank leads AU$20 million in 5G grants (msn.com)

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  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, August 23, 2021 2:09 AM

Another fire department nightmare.

UN1754 - Chlorosulfonic Acid CIHO3S

Chlorosulfonic acid appears as a colorless to yellow colored fuming liquid with a pungent odor. Density 14.7 lb / gal. Causes severe burns. Very toxic by inhalation. Corrosive to metals.

CORROSIVE and/or TOXIC; inhalation, ingestion or contact (skin, eyes) with vapors, dusts or substance will cause severe injury, burns and/or death.
Fire will produce irritating, corrosive and/or toxic gas clouds.
Highly volatile reaction with water may generate much heat that will increase the concentration of fumes in the air.
Contact with molten substance may cause severe burns to skin and eyes.
Runoff from fire control or dilution water may cause significant pollution.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 23, 2021 6:32 AM

blue streak 1
Highly volatile reaction with water may generate much heat that will increase the concentration of fumes in the air.

That is a considerable understatement.  Flooding this produces very prompt (within 3 seconds) molar release of HCl... after the initial consequences of water-into-acid.  And with considerable exotherm.

So important that in the 2020 Orange Book they named it twice!

Interestingly enough the 'recommended' response (p.210ff for guide 137) is to flood with water concentrating on knocking down the evolving HCl; that includes flooding any leaks without spraying on the actual leak site on the car.  This parallels the principle of flooding lithium batteries for rapid heat transfer.

alphas: that's magnesium, not manganese.  Not fun to encounter once lit.

It may be interesting to see if aluminum starts to provide a similar concern once vehicles substantially framed in it become more commonplace and involved in whole-vehicle fires...

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, August 23, 2021 8:28 AM

I remember in high school, my friend got some magnesium ribbon from the chemistry lab.  We went into the boys room, turned off the lights and lit it.  It lit up the whole room like it was daylight.  It only lasted a few seconds, though.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 23, 2021 9:48 AM

Magnesium was a major component of some aircraft radial engines with predictable concerns for engine fires.

It is, or was, one of the preferred methods for igniting thermite.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 23, 2021 9:56 AM

Paul Milenkovic
The reason I emphasize "lithium battery" fire rather than "lithium fire" is that metalic lithium does not appear in a lithium battery and is not what burns

Technically there is metallic lithium in the latest generations of traction batteries, and the dendrites that puncture separators on chronic overcharge are likewise metallic.  One of the key issues in fighting battery fires is to cool down the as-yet-unaffected cells so they do not 'breach' -- this is related to the issue of stranded charge in damaged cells.

Here is an interesting reference that the IEEE has chosen to make available:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/spectrum.ieee.org/amp/less-fire-more-power-the-secret-to-safer-lithiumion-batteries-2650417425

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, August 23, 2021 10:00 AM

Overmod

Magnesium was a major component of some aircraft radial engines with predictable concerns for engine fires.

I believe that the R-3350 engines of the B-29 had magnesium components.  More than a few B-29's crashed on takeoff from Tinian and between the bombload and the engines, the resulting fires were large and almost impossible to extinguish.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul

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