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Your wheel catches FIRE while charging - what do you do?


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It's unlikely any of us will ever have this problem, but it's possible, so to be safer I always charge my wheels in the same room I am in and never unattended. But it makes me wonder: what would I actually do if my wheel suddenly caught fire while charging?   Water is not going to help, neither is my fire extinguisher, and I probably won't have time to grab it and take it outside.

So... what to do?

I've seen Kuji Roll's using a big metal box to charge his wheels in - that's pretty clever but I don't really have room for it. Would a fire blanket help? Maybe I could smother the flames with a fire-proof blanket and contain it that way? Or would a specialised fire extinguisher be better - which kind would work? 

Has anyone put thought into this? What's your fire safety plan?

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My plan is to get the wheel outside at all costs. If its too damn hot to approach, I'll use a broom. If its too hot for that and I cant breathe, I'll still try and bathe the room in water. Not to put

The "violent firework" thermal runaway seems to be shorter than I initially thought (10-15 seconds if burning monster video is a ref?) So while the worse going on, hold my breath, grab the fire e

The fumes are toxic, I agree with that, but I disagree about the rest. The only things that works for Li-ion fires is good old water. CO2, poweder, etc, makes absolutely no sense for Li-ion fires, bec

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Wait for it to burn down. Close doors to the other rooms and open the windows to minimize the smoke damage. Not sure if there's anything else you can do unless you specifically prepared something.

To be fair, wheels that burned pretty much all(?) had faulty batteries (not charging to 100%) or a bad crash before or at least some other reason (wet from rain) to burn. It didn't just happen from nothing. So tbh I'm not worried about my wheel burning, otherwise I'd have prepared something (metal box with a lid or whatever).

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My plan is to get the wheel outside at all costs. If its too damn hot to approach, I'll use a broom. If its too hot for that and I cant breathe, I'll still try and bathe the room in water. Not to put the wheel out, but to prevent my walls and ceiling from burining.. Being near it when it catches, I would hope i can react quickly. Being electrocuted is much less ever a worry of mine, than an explosion or fire. If i kill the power to the house, my well stops. If i was on city water pumps, i'd kill the power and flood the room. I would also empty ALL my fire extinguishers as nearby flammables became in danger.  However, I charge mine next to motor vehicles and a paint closet and undermining my chances at ANYTHING helping much. If it goes badly, Im just going on vacation for a few days....

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The "violent firework" thermal runaway seems to be shorter than I initially thought (10-15 seconds if burning monster video is a ref?)

So while the worse going on, hold my breath, grab the fire extinguisher and douse the thing with it. The thermal runaway should hopefully soon be over and the remains be a "normal" plastic and surroundings fire.

I consider adding a hose in the kitchen to have more extinguishing capacity after the fire extinguisher is empty.

 

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Listen you heroes smoke from burning a li-ion battery is highly toxic and can cause unconsciousness in 15 seconds.

If you do not put out the burning euc, try to protect the objects around.

The average fire extinguisher "lasts for 15 decond (working)" to extinguish, so ideals aside here is about life! And the EUC will extinguish either CO2 but it will cause loss of consciousness and death in an enclosed space.

So the powder fire extinguisher remains the only right choice for indoor electronics.

The advantage of the powder is that the "balls / flakes" can then be vacuumed with a floor vacuum cleaner. I say this as the person responsible for fire protection in our company.

Edited by DjPanJan
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@DjPanJan I agree, the fumes from an EUC have to be AWFUL. And so, you don't "put out" an EUC fire, you let it burn out.

This is the most violent EUC explosion I've seen so far. The "li-ion runaway" takes like 10s, afterwards it's just a normal fire (mostly plastic).
Looks flashy, but the tree 1m away is perfectly fine, the pavement is smoldered, but otherwise unscathed.

I'm 99% certain that in a normal, brick garage with no flammables within like 4m nothing major would happen - the wheel would explode, burn and cool down.
Such fire alone is not enough to destroy the walls or the floor. Just keep it away from furniture or wooden floors.

The energy stored in the wheel isn't that big - 3kWh of battery + plastic. If you don't have any flammables within 3-4 meters, it should be safe just to let it burn.

So best to store it in the garage, far away from cardboard, canisters and furniture.

A fire blanket costs < $10 on Amazon. Put in on the wheel if you're paranoid. :)
It will definitely make it less likely for nearby flammables to catch on fire.

3 hours ago, Tryptych said:

I've seen Kuji Roll's using a big metal box to charge his wheels in - that's pretty clever but I don't really have room for it.

If you're in a tiny apartment and can't avoid furniture, I'd wager that a steel box is the only safe way to go. Possibly with water bottles inside to capture the energy - a big 1m x 1m x 0.5m box at a 1000°C is also gonna be a safety hazard. Also, keep in mind what's above the box - if the box is open, the flames go up quite high. And it can't be 100% contained, since the EUC fire generates gasses.

Edited by atdlzpae
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As with all fires, I think the smoke is more dangerous (to you) and damaging (to your place) than the fire itself. You probably don't store your wheel in your highly flammable hay stack, I presume;) Mine is on tiles next to a plastered wall, with doors being the closest flammable thing.

Maybe offering fireproof and sealable metal storage boxes for EUCs is a business idea for an enterprising accessory maker. Just close the lid to keep the smoke from getting out, and let the wheel burn in peace.

Edited by meepmeepmayer
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17 minutes ago, DjPanJan said:

Listen you heroes smoke from burning a li-ion battery is highly toxic and can cause unconsciousness in 15 seconds.

If you do not put out the burning euc, try to protect the objects around.

The average fire extinguisher "lasts for 15 decond (working)" to extinguish, so ideals aside here is about life! And the EUC will extinguish either CO2 but it will cause loss of consciousness and death in an enclosed space.

So the powder fire extinguisher remains the only right choice for indoor electronics.

The advantage of the powder is that the "balls / flakes" can then be vacuumed with a floor vacuum cleaner. I say this as the person responsible for fire protection in our company.

The fumes are toxic, I agree with that, but I disagree about the rest. The only things that works for Li-ion fires is good old water. CO2, poweder, etc, makes absolutely no sense for Li-ion fires, because the battery makes its own oxygen. It will burn even in an atmosphere of pure inert gas. The only thing you can do is to cool it down with water.

It's not like with mains where the ground acts as another pole to the live wire. Using water for these battery devices is safe. Using water for devices connected to mains is not. If your pc burns, use powder, because you can starve the fire it of oxygen and you don't want water to close the circuit from mains. But it won't help with Li-ion fire, only with the burning plastic afterwards. 

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50 minutes ago, meepmeepmayer said:

Just close the lid to keep the smoke from getting out, and let the wheel burn in peace.

That would work for the burning plastic (requires oxygen) but the battery doesn't, so the volume of gas produced by that needs to escape, else it could explode. Firecrackers (and larger devices) work by having a self sustained mineral fire build up pressure till the enclosure breaks). It would be interesting to know what volume of gas would be edited by the thermal runaway, and how much it is compressible, it would allow to calculate the volume of a sealed space.

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I think it’s better to consider where you storage your EUC. Keep away from flammables and away from a objects that can add to a larger fire.

If it is tucked away inside an apartment, think of insulated space that is not going to burn. Metal boxes, stone like 1/4” tile , concrete, or maybe a fire rated panel that is light weight and line up your cabinet in this material. 
 

consider if the space is enclosed that the energy of gases is going to need to escape. If the space is too insulated then it can explode. 

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Hell, if its an apartment why worry so much. It catches fire, you leave and come back later? Of course if you OWN the building, I guess it makes a difference. Im still thinking that you cant 'smother' a li-ion fire, so typical extiniguishers are merely to keep other shit from going up in flames. I wonder if 10 seconds of breathing lithium smoke would give you a hella buzz, considering 15 seconds is an overdose? Im also pretty sure that a huge metal can would work, IF it wasnt sealed. I guess if you wanted to make a bomb, seal that baby up! Me, Im going to not worry about it, store and charge mine next to propane tanks, gas cans, motorcycles and paint closets. If i wanted safe, I wouldnt own one of these contracptions.  Livin on the edge as the world is already overpopulated anyhow ;)

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@ dev null Thanks for that link, I found out that you need a Class D fire extinguisher for Lithium fires. I finally found those little balls Kuji Rolls set up above all his wheels: look up "Auto Fire Off" Fire extinguisher ball (it's only partially class D, so I would go with a class D real fire extinguisher, then have these balls as back-up if you're not home. Whoa, just looked at a class D fire extinguisher and it's over 600 dollars, holey moley! Can someone please find a cost effective solution for us, I will continue to search as well.

Edited by TheMasterSword
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here is a good vid of thermal runaway indoors - imo if you have serious desire to avoid bad voodoo on the low prob event of batt meltdown, you cannot have your machine in your living space. Leave in attached garage, outdoor shed etc. (not ez for aprtmnt dwellers) - dealing with a meltdown indoors (as it happens) appears to be pretty risky cuz of smoke. One thing that I am considering is grabbing a filing cab in the garbage - removing drawers putting front side down and using it as a containment box for machines. Cheap and pretty effective at keeping the flames contained... but argain these are rare events. Getting out of bed every morning is a calculated risk cuz untold number of low prob catastrophes are possible the minute you decide to enter the world. can`t plan for all of them and live a balanced/happy life.

 

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Now that I think about it, I have 2 easy options: I have an empty Green trash can (grass clippings and green stuff only) and also a compost bin (both are unused), until I get a metal locker to place a charging wheel into, I'll use one of those two, to keep the elements out while charging, but keep the EUC far enough away from the house to keep us safe.

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17 minutes ago, mike_bike_kite said:

Can the wheel monitor it's battery temp and give out an alarm if it detects a thermal runaway? Can the wheel tell you that there's a problem with your battery?

Does the overheat and combustion happen over time or quickly? if it progresses over time, then a monitor would be good, if it goes catastrophic in minutes to seconds, a monitor wouldn't make a difference.

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@amelanso Cool video. I think it confirms my thesis: a furniture 1m away didn't catch on fire. It looks like fabrics (carpets, beds, curtains) are the worst.
 

2 hours ago, TheMasterSword said:

Set up something like Kuji Rolls' metal box in a storage unit or covered patio approx 10ft away from the house, so if it were to catch fire, it's away from the building.

I'd be worried about condensed water damaging the electronics or wiring... Not much, but at least a little. :)

Edited by atdlzpae
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27 minutes ago, atdlzpae said:

Cool video. I think it confirms my thesis: a furniture 1m away didn't catch on fire. It looks like fabrics (carpets, beds, curtains) are the worst.

Yeah, it looks like the best option we have when it happens close enough to furniture or stuff is to wait until the thermal runaway is done (call the firefighters in the meanwhile), then allow a fresh air into the room and extinguish the burning plastic that remains without breathing. :D 

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8 hours ago, Finn Bjerke said:

The realist approach Put a firealarm next to the damn thang and recharge outdoors if possible ? 

I would bet that most people can’t do that, or it would add so much hassle that they won’t do it regularly. (“Ehh, surely nothing will happen just this one time when I plug it in next the door.”)

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