Do Nissan Leaf battery cells blow up from puncture, fire? Nope

Just how safe are electric cars?  Fire fears were hyped up during the 2012 election season based on a bogus misconstrual of a fire following a Chevy Volt crash test.  A few Tesla Model S’s did catch fire however, following a battery pack puncture.   The handful of electric car fires is small in comparison to the rate of gas car fires but that hasn’t stopped hype and fear.

Here’s a test of the Nissan Leaf battery cells demonstrating they don’t catch fire even when clearly punctures or set on fire with a propane torch.  When in the car, these cells are encased in a stainless steel case and further enclosed in a large metal box.  Even though these cells have a low probability of catching fire, Nissan’s engineers protected them very well.

A puncture test like this is the same condition causing the Tesla Model S fires and the one Chevy Volt fire (that followed a crash test).  What causes the fire is a short circuit of the battery material, and the energy release quickly causes fire.  All that’s released in this case is a puff of smoke.



About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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