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Lituueum Powered buses and trains make fire departments nervous

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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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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 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 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 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 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 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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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 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 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 Paul Milenkovic on Saturday, August 21, 2021 7:02 PM

BaltACD

 

 
Paul Milenkovic
That is incorrect.  There is something that "works" on a lithium battery fire -- tending it by pouring water on it until it burns itself out.  Just because some fire departments lack the resources to do the one thing that "works" doesn't mean there isn't a strategy.

The reason I am "on this" is that fire departments and fire fighters are not helpless against lithium battery fires, and to suggest or imply they are helpless denigrates the professionalism of the fire fighting community and those in that community who study how best to fight different types of fires.  

 

There is no means for a FD to STOP a Lithium fire BEFORE the lithium fuel of the fire is exhausted.  Yes that is a FD strategy - as long as the water supply holds out.

 

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

Lithium Ion Battery Fire and Explosion (iafss.org)

That said, someone tell me what about my remark "There is something that "works" on a lithium battery fire -- tending it by pouring water on it until it burns itself out. " reveals that I am unware that the fire fighting strategy is to prevent surrounding property from catching fire while the lithium battery fire continues until it exhausts itself of the fuel and oxidizer disclosed in the link?

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, August 21, 2021 6:52 PM

Paul Milenkovic
That is incorrect.  There is something that "works" on a lithium battery fire -- tending it by pouring water on it until it burns itself out.  Just because some fire departments lack the resources to do the one thing that "works" doesn't mean there isn't a strategy.

The reason I am "on this" is that fire departments and fire fighters are not helpless against lithium battery fires, and to suggest or imply they are helpless denigrates the professionalism of the fire fighting community and those in that community who study how best to fight different types of fires.  

There is no means for a FD to STOP a Lithium fire BEFORE the lithium fuel of the fire is exhausted.  Yes that is a FD strategy - as long as the water supply holds out.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Saturday, August 21, 2021 6:42 PM

Backshop

 

 
Paul Milenkovic

 

 
Backshop

 

 
Paul Milenkovic

 

 
Flintlock76

 

 
tree68
This article from a fire service publication may prove enlightening.

 

Thanks for your insights!

 

 

 

Hey, that is pretty much what I was saying, only I got scolded for saying I wasn't paying attention to earlier posts?

 

 

 

"Containing" and "putting out" are two entirely different things.  F76 was saying that they can't be fought, only contained.  A house or gasoline fire can both be put out.  Water and chemicals can do that.  A battery fire like this can only be kept from spreading until it burns itself out.

 

 

 

 

 

F76 said

"There's been instances of electric cars catching fire and the local fire departments not being able to put the fire out, all they can do is contain it and make sure it doesn't spread to any surroundings. "

Followed by

 "The trouble with lithium car battery fires is nothing  in the firefighter's arsenal works on them"

 

 

 

 

 

Which is correct.  Nothing works on the battery fire; water and other agents keep other nearby flammable materials from being ignited.  As Tree said, many departments don't have the equipment to keep up the steady streams of water needed.  They also don't have the resources or manpower to keep it deployed at one location for many hours.

 

 

That is incorrect.  There is something that "works" on a lithium battery fire -- tending it by pouring water on it until it burns itself out.  Just because some fire departments lack the resources to do the one thing that "works" doesn't mean there isn't a strategy.

The reason I am "on this" is that fire departments and fire fighters are not helpless against lithium battery fires, and to suggest or imply they are helpless denigrates the professionalism of the fire fighting community and those in that community who study how best to fight different types of fires.  

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?

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Posted by Backshop on Saturday, August 21, 2021 6:34 PM

Paul Milenkovic

 

 
Backshop

 

 
Paul Milenkovic

 

 
Flintlock76

 

 
tree68
This article from a fire service publication may prove enlightening.

 

Thanks for your insights!

 

 

 

Hey, that is pretty much what I was saying, only I got scolded for saying I wasn't paying attention to earlier posts?

 

 

 

"Containing" and "putting out" are two entirely different things.  F76 was saying that they can't be fought, only contained.  A house or gasoline fire can both be put out.  Water and chemicals can do that.  A battery fire like this can only be kept from spreading until it burns itself out.

 

 

 

 

 

F76 said

"There's been instances of electric cars catching fire and the local fire departments not being able to put the fire out, all they can do is contain it and make sure it doesn't spread to any surroundings. "

Followed by

 "The trouble with lithium car battery fires is nothing  in the firefighter's arsenal works on them"

 

 

 

Which is correct.  Nothing works on the battery fire; water and other agents keep other nearby flammable materials from being ignited.  As Tree said, many departments don't have the equipment to keep up the steady streams of water needed.  They also don't have the resources or manpower to keep it deployed at one location for many hours.

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Saturday, August 21, 2021 6:27 PM

Backshop

 

 
Paul Milenkovic

 

 
Flintlock76

 

 
tree68
This article from a fire service publication may prove enlightening.

 

Thanks for your insights!

 

 

 

Hey, that is pretty much what I was saying, only I got scolded for saying I wasn't paying attention to earlier posts?

 

 

 

"Containing" and "putting out" are two entirely different things.  F76 was saying that they can't be fought, only contained.  A house or gasoline fire can both be put out.  Water and chemicals can do that.  A battery fire like this can only be kept from spreading until it burns itself out.

 

 

 

F76 said

"There's been instances of electric cars catching fire and the local fire departments not being able to put the fire out, all they can do is contain it and make sure it doesn't spread to any surroundings. "

followed by the contradictory statement

 "The trouble with lithium car battery fires is nothing  in the firefighter's arsenal works on them"

and in turn

"Lithium fires ARE frightening because they can't be dealt with" 

Fire fighters have a procedure for "dealing with" an electric vehicle fire that "works with" a lithium battery fire.  Keeping pouring water on it until it cools down.  This is not something improvised, it is the best practice developed by the fire fighting research community and fire departments are doing this.

Just because you are not "putting out" a fire does not mean there isn't an effective strategy for "dealing with a fire" or "fighting a fire" or "limiting the damage" -- that is what you try to do with any and all fires.  Containing a fire is one mode of fighting a fire by limiting the damage it can do.

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, August 21, 2021 2:04 PM

Now we have been notified that all GM electric cars are being recalled to replace batteries with " UPGRADED "  packs.  Any bets of future results ?

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Posted by Backshop on Saturday, August 21, 2021 10:07 AM

Paul Milenkovic

 

 
Flintlock76

 

 
tree68
This article from a fire service publication may prove enlightening.

 

Thanks for your insights!

 

 

 

Hey, that is pretty much what I was saying, only I got scolded for saying I wasn't paying attention to earlier posts?

 

"Containing" and "putting out" are two entirely different things.  F76 was saying that they can't be fought, only contained.  A house or gasoline fire can both be put out.  Water and chemicals can do that.  A battery fire like this can only be kept from spreading until it burns itself out.

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Saturday, August 21, 2021 8:14 AM

Flintlock76

 

 
tree68
This article from a fire service publication may prove enlightening.

 

Thanks for your insights!

 

Hey, that is pretty much what I was saying, only I got scolded for saying I wasn't paying attention to earlier posts?

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, August 20, 2021 9:02 PM

tree68
This article from a fire service publication may prove enlightening.

Thanks for your insights!

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Thursday, August 19, 2021 10:05 PM

Shadow the Cats owner

Yoho California doesn't have the power required to replace all the internal combustion engines just in that state alone.  To do that is going to require doubling the power grid supply at minimum to handle the load to recharge the electric cars.  Yet pg&e can't keep the freaking lights on in the state already.  

 

 

Not sure how this is in anyway relevant to the points I raised, but it is worth noting that PG&E's bigged power delivery problem was a fire in Oregon, not California, that forced them to De-energize the lines running down from Bonneville. The Dixie fire, which they may have caused has also been a nightmare considering the feather river is littered with power dams.

 

They are finally working to bury some transmission lines which, as a former Chicagolander who saw my telephone poles come down in the earlier 80s, feels long over due,  but as a Californian for 15 years, I wonder just how expensive it is to bore through all that Granite.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, August 19, 2021 9:21 PM

This article from a fire service publication may prove enlightening.

https://www.firerescue1.com/firefighter-training/articles/what-firefighters-need-to-know-about-electric-car-batteries-omiDv8vd87oZ9ZKs/

Note that in one test, a battery re-ignited some 22 hours after they thought it was out.

In our rural environment, I suspect that if the vehicle is not threatening any exposures, it's going to be allowed to turn itself into a pile of molten metal.  

To consider the challenge of setting up a tanker operation, here are the factors we face:  Each department in the area (including mine) has one tanker, usually 2,000 gallons.  Getting the five bordering departments' tankers on the scene will involve travel times ranging from five minutes to 15, assuming a quick response by each department.

Most tankers fill and dump at 1000 gallons per minute, so figure two+ minutes for each operation, assuming there is sufficient on-scene capacity to completely dump a tanker when it arrives.

If we assume a five minute travel time in each direction between the fill site and the incident, that's another ten+ minutes (and that's optomistic - it could be 10-15 minutes each way). 

In order to move 1000 gallons per minute, we need a tanker dumping every two minutes.  One cycle will take at least 14-15 minutes.

Long story short - it will require at least 10 tankers to even approach 1000 gallons per minute.  And the additional five that we'd need will take even longer to arrive.

That electric car will be completely gone by the time we can set up a relay of sufficient volume...

Now, if you're talking about the battery pack for a 3,000 HP locomotive...

As an aside, the method of applying extinguishing agent to flammable metals (like magnesium) is a shovel - the agent is a powder and comes in a bucket.

 

 

 

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Thursday, August 19, 2021 8:36 PM
We've also gone over design changes in batteries that work to minimize fire risk. This challenge is being attacked from several angles as noted in this thread and others. risks from a 2021 tesla are less than a 2019 and that will improve in each iteration. My point, and the reason I thought wildfires relevant is that looking at the numbers, lithium fires do not, as I see it, present a risk that is proportionate to the hand wringing.
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, August 19, 2021 3:49 PM

Paul Milenkovic
What do you mean lithium (battery) fires can't be dealt with?  Fire departments and fire fighters deal with such fires all the time.  Does a person think fire fighters just sit around wondering what to do if they encounter a lithium-battery electric car on fire? 

Have you forgotten what I said earlier?  They contain it, even if they can't extinguish it.  That means keeping the conflagration confined to the car itself and not letting it spread elsewhere, i.e. to adjacent structures, tree lines, lawns, overhead power lines, or what have you.  Dumping thousands of gallons of water on it may contain it, but it won't put it out.  Only time can do that. 

I'm going to ask tree68 for some input on this, he's a firefighter himself.

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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, August 19, 2021 1:50 PM

Paul Milenkovic
The best practice is that you pour water on this type of fire, you pour a lot of water over a long period of time. 

Tanker shuttles for a vehicle fire. 

Who would have ever thought that'd be a thing? 

  

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer, any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Thursday, August 19, 2021 1:30 PM

Flintlock76

 

 
YoHo1975
Regular cars burst into flames every day too. Wooly Mammoths used to gore humans. Seems rather odd to be afraid of this new technology as if you aren't surrounded by things that can do equal damage to you.

 

Yes, regular cars can burst into flames but the causes are typically apparant and understandable, say an accident or shoddy maintanance.  Woolly mammoths were dealt with by a team effort of the tribe, just as butchering the corpse was after the matter was concluded.  (Must have made one hell of a barbeque!)   Chef

Fear of the new technology?  Probably driven more by the "If it bleeds, it leads!" mentality of the press.  Electric cars aren't bursting into flame all over but the scare headlines don't help matters.  Lithium fires ARE frightening because they can't be dealt with, at least not yet.  Solutions will be found. 

Remember. people fear what they don't understand, always have and always will.

Forest fires are out of the scope of the discussion.  Another matter entirely.

 

 

What do you mean lithium (battery) fires can't be dealt with?  Fire departments and fire fighters deal with such fires all the time.  Does a person think fire fighters just sit around wondering what to do if they encounter a lithium-battery electric car on fire?  I linked these on another thread -- they have "trade associations" or "professional organizations" where experts figure out the best practices to fight different kinds of fires, and this information is passed on to the people who have to fight these fires.

The best practice is that you pour water on this type of fire, you pour a lot of water over a long period of time.  Yeah, yeah and yeah, electrical fires and water don't mix, but for electric vehicle fires, the experts who have studied this kind of fire think long and hard, and they tell fire fighters to keep the water coming.  Because battery fires burn in the absence of an oxygen supply and they do this for a long, long time, fire fighters have to stand there, upwind if they can or with breathing gear if they cannot, and keep cooling the resulting slag pool with water.

This is the best practice to deal with an EV fire, and the news media and people around here can make of it what we want.  Maybe if a new kind of EV battery is invented there will be a simpler, quicker way to put out a fire.  But the fire departments don't design and build stuff -- they just live with the consequences the best they are able to.,

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, August 19, 2021 12:38 PM

YoHo1975
Regular cars burst into flames every day too. Wooly Mammoths used to gore humans. Seems rather odd to be afraid of this new technology as if you aren't surrounded by things that can do equal damage to you.

Yes, regular cars can burst into flames but the causes are typically apparant and understandable, say an accident or shoddy maintanance.  Woolly mammoths were dealt with by a team effort of the tribe, just as butchering the corpse was after the matter was concluded.  (Must have made one hell of a barbeque!)   Chef

Fear of the new technology?  Probably driven more by the "If it bleeds, it leads!" mentality of the press.  Electric cars aren't bursting into flame all over but the scare headlines don't help matters.  Lithium fires ARE frightening because they can't be dealt with, at least not yet.  Solutions will be found. 

Remember. people fear what they don't understand, always have and always will.

Forest fires are out of the scope of the discussion.  Another matter entirely.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Thursday, August 19, 2021 11:49 AM

Yoho California doesn't have the power required to replace all the internal combustion engines just in that state alone.  To do that is going to require doubling the power grid supply at minimum to handle the load to recharge the electric cars.  Yet pg&e can't keep the freaking lights on in the state already.  

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Thursday, August 19, 2021 11:03 AM

Let's all not remind the OP what the C in ICE means. Might never drive another vehicle ever again. Lithium batteries can be dangerous when not handled properly. Regular cars burst into flames every day too. Wooly Mammoths used to gore humans. Seems rather odd to be afraid of this new technology as if you aren't surrounded by things that can do equal damage to you. I mean, I live in Northern California, Everywhere around me is burning to the ground from lightening strikes and broken power lines. Lithium fires aren't going to make it worse.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 11:02 PM

From last year when the load of Tesla's went up in flame,  It seems like there was another autorack fire somewhere else within a few months.

Union Pacific rail yard in North Platte site of large fire (wowt.com)

Jeff

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