Electric car batteries behave differently after ignition than when gasoline or diesel cars start burning. Electric cars are constantly increasing, so developers and operators of parking garages face the challenge of switching to new technologies for preventing and extinguishing this new type of fire. Fortunately, science and the private sector have come together to come up with a solution. This is a water mist extinguishing technology, which is supplied by 3MON in Slovakia. In theory, almost every third car we come across in any parking garage is electric or has a hybrid drive. The current sales of electric cars in the European Union correspond to such numbers. And their number will increase, as the European Parliament has definitively approved the ban on the sale of “combustion engines” from 2035. Insurance companies are also reacting to this fact, which are increasingly demanding from developers a so-called VDS certificate, which requires the deployment of fire protection technologies that can handle even burning parked electric cars.

Difficult to extinguish

Technical errors, mechanical damage, neglected diagnostics. These are also the reasons why the battery in an electric car can ignite and cause a fire. The result is less fire, but an extremely large amount of toxic smoke and a high temperature that is difficult to reduce. In an incident in an underground garage in Prague at the beginning of May, firefighters complicatedly intervened with a burning electric luxury car. They had to use cobra technology, which is actually a strong stream of water that literally cuts its way to the battery to cool it and extinguish it. The current practice is to immerse the electric car in a water bath and wait until its temperature drops. Incinerators are extinguished with foam, but this does not help with electric cars. When an electric car catches fire, it is necessary to start extinguishing the fire in the first phase, when it arises, because even 10 minutes will pass before the firemen arrive at the scene. By then, the premises are usually engulfed in fire, along with all flammable substances. Then the electric car can only be cooled, push the combustion products out of the area, secure and protect the other fire sections and evacuate the premises. Plain water, more precisely water mist, proved to be the best for this first phase.
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Hasenie horiaceho elektromobilu - 3MON
Testovanie hasenia elektromobilov - 3MON

During testing, they let the electric car burn for more than seven minutes. The temperature rose to 880 ˚C. After activating the nozzles, the thermal cameras recorded a significant decrease in temperature after only one and a half minutes.

Parking garages, whether they are part of, for example, shopping centers or administrative buildings, are often equipped with classic sprinklers. However, in the event of a fire, they release so much water that they can flood the entire floor and the damage to the building owner is significant. In addition, these systems are less effective against the fire of electric cars and therefore there is a risk that before the fire can be extinguished, it will cause irreversible damage to the statics of the building.

Under the protection of water mist

The answer is the use of water mist extinguishing technology, which is supplied to the Slovak market by 3MON. It was developed by the Danish Fire and Safety Technology Institute (DBI) together with the Danish company VID Firekill. A static system of special nozzles is most suitable for underground or other closed garages. They have a highly reliable fire detection capability and in one moment they disperse a water mist on the ignited electric car and, of course, on the surrounding vehicles. It is these micro particles of water that have the ability to absorb an enormous amount of heat transformed into steam. Just one liter of water disperses up to 1.64 cubic meters. It uses half as much water as with classic sprinklers. Since it is essential to reduce the temperature of electric cars, water mist has proven to be extremely effective.

During testing, they let the electric car burn for more than seven minutes. The temperature rose to 880 ˚C. After activating the nozzles, the thermal cameras recorded a significant decrease in temperature after only one and a half minutes, in less than 15 minutes the temperature of the electric car dropped to 70˚C and to 30˚C in another 15 minutes. It turned out that the water mist technology has an extraordinary ability to reduce the temperature and at the same time take oxygen from the surroundings, thereby taking away the fire’s initial momentum and overall potential.

The demonstration also proved that by using a minimum of water it is possible to protect surrounding cars, moreover, water mist also works on cars with internal combustion engines. The technology also has strong potential in the prevention and extinguishing of car battery warehouses and data centers.