Tesla says Shanghai car fire caused by failed battery module

Tesla says Shanghai car fire caused by failed battery module
In this Dec. 3, 2018, file photo, workers put the finishing touches on a battery pack for a Tesla Model 3 sedan at Tesla's northern Nevada Gigafactory in Reno, Nev. Tesla says a fire in one of its cars in Shanghai was caused by the failure of a single battery module and investigators found no defects in the car's systems. (Benjamin Spillman/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, File)

Tesla says a fire in one of its cars in Shanghai was caused by the failure of a single battery module and investigators found no defects in the car's systems.

The electric car maker said Friday on its social media account that a joint team examined the battery, software, manufacturing information and the vehicle's history following the April 21 fire in an underground garage.

It said it found no system defects and determined preliminarily that the fire was caused by the failure of a battery module in the front of the vehicle.

Modules are groups of battery cells joined together. Panasonic supplies Tesla's cells.

Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, said in May it was issuing a battery-related software update.

In the U.S., federal authorities are investigating at least three Tesla fires, including one that killed the driver of a Model S last February in Davie, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is probing the Davie fire, while the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating blazes in West Hollywood and Mountain View, California. The Mountain View fire occurred after a fatal crash on a freeway.

Fires in Tesla's lithium-ion batteries can reignite after being extinguished by firefighters. The company has said that fires can take up to 24 hours to extinguish and that firefighters should consider letting the battery burn while protecting nearby buildings.

Tesla has maintained its vehicles catch fire far less often than those powered by gasoline.

Tesla says Shanghai car fire caused by failed battery module
In this Dec. 3, 2018 photo, robots at the Tesla Gigafactory help assemble battery cells from Panasonic into battery packs for Tesla's Model 3 sedan and other products in Reno, Nev. Tesla says a fire in one of its cars in Shanghai was caused by the failure of a single battery module and investigators found no defects in the car's systems. (Benjamin Spillman/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, File)

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Jun 29, 2019
Tesla should stop using the volatile NCA chemistry in their batteries, but they can't because they can't get the price per specific energy ($/Wh/kg) or the ridiculous amounts of power (W) out of any other lithium chemistry that isn't equally or more prone to spontaneous combustion and thermal runaway.

To make the cars safer, they'd have to drop the battery capacity and range, drop the "ludicurous acceleration" off the options, and up the price tag. Their cars would then perform the same as any Nissan Leaf or eGolf, except they'd cost twice as much because Tesla doesn't know how to make cars to a price.

Jun 29, 2019
Reasons why lithium-ion batteries die:
https://www.youtu...0Cu00sZs

The dirty secret is that in lithium-ion batteries, the electrode materials are actually chemically reactive with the electrolyte. They spontaneously react and corrode - but - the reaction products are solids that form atomically thin layers over the electrodes that protect them from further reaction. It's kinda like how aluminum gains a thin oxide layer that prevents it from oxidizing further.

If you disturb these layers, by mechanical damage, by heat, by lithium dendrites, or just by random diffusion over time etc. the reaction can proceed. This is what limits the calendar life of li-ion batteries to about a decade at best.

If you disturb the battery enough, the reaction produces heat, and heat makes the reaction go faster, so there becomes a point where the heat produced is greater than the heat removed and you get a thermal runaway. It's an inherently unstable system.

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