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Chevy Volt fires cause concern

Rick DeMeis
11/15/2011 03:22 PM EST

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BicycleBill
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re: Chevy Volt fires cause concern
BicycleBill   11/15/2011 5:42:39 PM
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Don't bother me with the facts or any sort of investigation, we want the blaring headlines and superficial sensationalism--that's what's today's media is all about. Plus, it's the TV ratings sweeps period, so this is just the right kind of material they want.

gmorita
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re: Chevy Volt fires cause concern
gmorita   11/15/2011 7:58:34 PM
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Bill, I disagree with your statement that a ruptured fuel line poses a greater fire hazard. Lithium battery fires a notoriously difficult to extinguish once they have started. Water or foam are the WORST things to pour on this type of fire because the lithium will tear the oxygen right out of the water molecule. Then you've got lithium AND hydrogen burning. If the lithium battery is a cobalt or manganese oxide type, then it has the fuel (lithium) and oxidizer (metal oxide) in close proximity to each other. Cobalt oxide based cathodes are especially problematic since the cobalt oxide decomposes above 175C releasing oxygen. I believe the Chevy Volt batteries use cathodes based on a manganese oxide chemistry and are therefore more stable.

Bert22306
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re: Chevy Volt fires cause concern
Bert22306   11/15/2011 9:11:30 PM
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Indeed, having this gymongous lithium battery in a car can't be very reassuring. My mantra in the past has been that these battery powered electrics are not the way to go, and this "safety" issue, which always draws the loudest oohs and aahs, not to mention jaw-jutting indignation, isn't even the reason. I've read recently about a new approach that makes infinitely more sense to me. Fuel cells running a mild(er) hybrid powerplant. And to take that a step further, an on-board hydrogen separator, that extracts H2 from a hydrocarbon fuel, and then sends that to the fuel cell. (I've proposed this in the past too.) The difficult problem with fuel cells has been to get high output. So, remove the piston engine from the mild hybrid, replace it with a fuel cell, and you can have a real electric vehicle without the inherent problems of an oversized, very hot, and still inadequate battery. And this should come close to doubling the efficiency of the car, compared with a piston engine carnot cycle design.

Code Monkey
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re: Chevy Volt fires cause concern
Code Monkey   11/15/2011 9:37:35 PM
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Why does the battery need to be "safed"? No polymer fuses? And I thought cars were using LiFePO4 these days, which don't burn up like Li polymer cells. I'm sure Chevy will work these things out. In the mean time, I will call the car "Chevy Jolt".

Duane Benson
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re: Chevy Volt fires cause concern
Duane Benson   11/15/2011 11:54:43 PM
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Gasoline is essentially allowed to stick around despite its dangers because a) it's been around forever, and b) it's the best we've got so far. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) batteries will not likely be given the same pass where safety is concerned. That's good because I don't like the idea of difficult to extinguish lithium fires, nor the idea of accidentally getting electrocuted by my car. I would guess that there's also a toxicity issue if the battery containment is breached. On the other hand, roads and cars are really pretty hazardous systems all around. They are much safer than a decade or two or three ago, but we really need to hold all of these technologies to a single standard; not make it rougher on something just because its new.

Brian Fuller2
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re: Chevy Volt fires cause concern
Brian Fuller2   11/16/2011 12:14:48 AM
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As the guy driving one around the country for a year on the Drive for Innovation, I can say that all we've seen so far is a software glitch. And while we like a good story, we don't want to end up being THE story. One fresh report on the Mooresville fire has the origin starting away from the cars and the charging station. We are in that area in a couple of weeks and will make an effort to track down the Mooresville FD chief.

_hm
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re: Chevy Volt fires cause concern
_hm   11/16/2011 12:26:55 AM
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Do other Hybrid vehicles also has fire issue with battery? The battery and its safety technology has long way to evolve. It may be nice topic to do research.

daleste
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re: Chevy Volt fires cause concern
daleste   11/16/2011 2:12:55 AM
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Just when the new technology is starting to take off, leave it to the press to try to stop it. This seems like a non-story to me. One caught on fire after being crashed and a garage with a Volt in it caught on fire. The only take away is make sure the battery isn't damaged after an accident. Not unlike a gas tank.

Headhunter
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re: Chevy Volt fires cause concern
Headhunter   11/16/2011 1:37:33 PM
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Read an article equating these fires with the failure of government; GM=Government Motors, etc. Have a feeling these fires will take on urban myth proportions for those pushing for the Keystone pipeline. On the other hand, I've yet to hear of a single Tesla fire; my gut feel is that with anything completely new, there may be some design gremlins. Does that equate to the breakdown of free society and prove the US is a doomed socialist state? Maybe not . . . quite possibly a problem that can be solved with the inclusion of a dry powder fire extinguisher and a term life policy in purchase price.

Quickbadger
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re: Chevy Volt fires cause concern
Quickbadger   11/16/2011 3:23:20 PM
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The media is a bit lazy and likes to rely on templates. Just switch "EV1" with "Volt" and you have a new story! I'm not an EV fan in its current state. But to be fair, much of the EV1 bad press was not due to insurmountable failures of the EV1. Some of it had nothing to do with the EV1.

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