Fire Shield Systems’ Swedish solution to future-proof fire vehicle safety kit

VEHICLE fire suppression systems are set to see a revolution in the coming years as electric and hybrid vehicles become ever-more popular and rival the traditional combustion engines.

To combat the fire risks from these new energy sourced vehicles, an EU-funded project was set up called the Li-IonFire project. The project has enabled project coordinator and Swedish company Dafo Vehicle, through its UK distributor Fire Shield Systems, to unveil a fire-safety solution specifically designed for Lithium- ion battery packs and cells.

“With the rapid introduction of electric and hybrid electric vehicles in public transport, there are new challenges because they present totally different risk scenarios,” said Anders Gulliksson of Dafo Vehicle.

“When the commonly used Lithium-ion batteries fail through short circuiting, overcharging, high temperatures, mechanical damage and overheating, this might cause thermal runaway and the release of a flammable electrolyte, which makes fire extinguishing very difficult. In addition to the dramatic fire scenario with the rapid increase in heat, there are a lot of potentially toxic gases being emitted.”

The Li-IonFire project team studied the various fire risks related to battery spaces, including specific risks when charging, and procedures for handling electric vehicles and batteries after a crash. They also investigated to what extent fixed and integrated fire suppression systems, which are widely used to protect engine compartments on heavy vehicles, can be applied to vehicles powered by Lithium- ion batteries, and how they should be designed.

Through extensive testing, the Li-IonFire team better understood how a breakdown occurs within the battery and how it can be detected.

“If a system is activated at this early stage, the battery can be ‘brought back’ to a safe state, without the fire developing further,” explained Gulliksson.

“The tests have also shown that even with a late deployment of the fire suppression


system, there’s a possibility of delaying the battery reaching a critical state, meaning that the chance of safe evacuation is very high.”

With proper detection and system activation, the hazardous scenario can be reversed and potentially even stopped entirely.

Back in March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the UK Government would be closing a loophole in the red diesel tax within the next two years, meaning companies will soon be paying considerably more for their diesel. Consequently, running costs for plant and machinery are set to rise as well, and Lithium-ion batteries could soon be common equipment in businesses up and down the country.

“I think there will be a lot of focus on new energy sources for plant and machinery in the coming months, and this requires quite a bit of innovation to keep machinery and equipment fire-safe,” said Fire Shield Systems’ Sales and Marketing Director, James Mountain.

“These alternative energy sources

are quite different from combustion engines so there will be a lot of exciting development there.”

Fire Shield Systems are the exclusive distributor, service and parts provider of the P Mark approved Dafo Vehicle Fire Protection System for the UK and Ireland.

To discuss automatic fire suppression or to arrange for a system demonstration, call 0800 975 5767

With the rapid

introduction of electric and hybrid electric vehicles in public transport, there are new challenges because they present totally different risk scenarios.”

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