Energica supplying bikes for 2019 Electric MotoGP

Discussion in 'Electric Motorcycles' started by voltsxamps, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. ian408

    ian408 Administrator Administrator Super Moderator

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    The fire sucks. I know that racing cars undergo a stringent process to mitigate chance of fire during their transport. Things like battery maintenance (more stable charged to some minimum), insuring each battery is thermally stable and cool enough to transport, damage inspection prior to shipment, no swelling, Even then, each car is shipped enclosed in a crate designed to mitigate the spread of fire.

    Couldn’t tell if the bikes were shipped in those crates. Regardless, Li-ion batteries are not easy to put out.

    Even RC car batteries require proper maintenance to avoid issues.
    #21
  2. Piggdekk

    Piggdekk love speed, hate rush

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    I remember reading stock bikes didn't have enough capacity to finish a race, hence they upgraded batteries (and the rest of the bike!) for racing. While they may still race stock bikes for shorter distances I think it'll be a very unexciting presentation for MotoE. I'm really surprised as how much they've understimated the risks, didn't Tesla had a few fires in their factories too?
    luca
    #22
  3. ian408

    ian408 Administrator Administrator Super Moderator

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    But nothing I’ve read names a cause. What if it wasn’t the bike?

    The risks are certainly present and I’m sure all concerned considered, and tried to mitigate them.
    #23
  4. Bt10

    Bt10 Long timer

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    It has not been determined yet.
    #24
  5. ctromley

    ctromley Long timer

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    Your terminology is off.

    Thermal runaway happens gradually. Batteries have an internal resistance, so when they're charged or discharged they create heat. How much depends on the chemistry. When temp goes up, resistance goes down, so current rises and heat goes up. Normally the heat rise levels off and runaway is prevented on its own. But if you have mismatched cells or your pack is designed so some cells can't dissipate heat as well as others, you can get the vulnerable cell(s) to run away. If that happens and it lights, the surrounding cells are fuel. A decent BMS has sensors that can detect this happening and shut it down before you have a disaster on your hands.

    What you're talking about is an internally shorted cell, which can (rarely) be caused by electrode dendrites, a pierced cell, whatever. Typically lithium packs have many cells paralleled together to supply the necessary current and many parallel groups wired in series to provide the intended system voltage. If a single cell in a parallel group is shorted internally, that shorts all the other intact cells in that group, through the failed cell. You get a huge, sudden current flowing through it and it bursts into flame. That's why any decent pack connects each individual cell to its parallel group through a fuse wire. Anything substantially above the normal current flow for that cell (a fraction of what the group carries) will pop the fuse and stop the process. This isn't hard to manage.

    CRUCIAL POINT:

    We don't know.

    There are a lot of EV haters out there, and they just love seeing reports of EV battery packs going up in flames. (As if carrying enough gasoline in your tank to cause major death and destruction was somehow safe.) Any time some EV-ignorant blowhard spouts off about what a bad idea electric power is, the topic of battery fires comes up.

    The simple fact is that this fire could just as easily have been caused by a pile of shop rags in the garage. Or arson. Or dozens of other possible causes.

    We don't know. Speculation only feeds the haters. IF, and only if, it turns out that it was the batteries, that will unfortunately fall on Energica or one of the teams messing with something they shouldn't, not any inherent danger of EVs relative to ICE vehicles. Battery hazards can be mitigated, just like gasoline hazards can.
    #25
  6. Piggdekk

    Piggdekk love speed, hate rush

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    First reports claim the fire started on the charging station, not from the bikes that were not being charged at the time of the fire. Looks like the recharging station has got its own battery that is charged with a power supply and then charges the bikes. No idea as to why the charging station cought fire in the first place.
    luca
    #26
  7. ctromley

    ctromley Long timer

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    Well, a big dump charger (or maybe two or more) would certainly be needed to keep 18 EMs ready to roll through multiple practices and testing. I'd be interested in knowing who built it. Such a device is not common these days, at least for typical industrial providers. All the things that are needed to make an EV pack safe are required for a dump charger too (with variations for battery chemistry, but I'm assuming this is lithium), but if anything the safeguards would be far more robust and stringent. Dump charging happens really fast at very high power, and things can go sideways Very Quickly at high currents.

    My point being it should really only be attempted by those who have an intimate understanding of battery charging and the battery chemistry in question, particularly the building of very high-power lithium packs. It's not the sort of thing you assign to the local industrial electrical contractor.

    "So you want 800 kWh of standby battery capacity that can discharge at 370 VDC, 500 kW max output, and the charger feed is the track's 3-phase service. OK, we can handle all that, but we normally do standard telecom-style lead for batteries. Those won't fit in the space you have. Looks like we're gonna finally join the tech guys and use lithium on this one! We'll get you a proposal next week."

    That's not a conversation you want to have from a supplier of a dump charger. This is not something you build as a one-off. It needs to be extensively developed (some lessons will be learned the hard way, hopefully under controlled, safe conditions), refined and tested thoroughly. It's even more important than doing so for a lithium pack on any production vehicle.

    Looking forward to more conclusive info on the cause of the fire. When there's an EV fire getting a lot of press, thorough, accurate reporting is crucial.

    Another thought: If it is the dump charger's fault, that actually might kill the series. I'm guessing that's not the sort of system that is easy to throw together in 6 weeks, and if it caused a fire once would you want the same thing again? I bet Tesla could pull it off and I'd trust it, but I doubt they'd take the job on such short notice.

    Hmmm - or maybe they'd like a truck painted up with Powerwall logos traveling to all the MotoGP races....
    #27
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  8. ian408

    ian408 Administrator Administrator Super Moderator

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    My understanding is that there was a short of some kind. I suppose that's as much of a guess as anything up until the investigation says otherwise.

    As far as charging goes, there is a company working on fast chargers for EV motorcycles. These will have the ability to control the bike's cooling system in order to keep batteries at the appropriate temps to safely charge at higher rates. We'll see what they come up with-I know they have an Energica for the purpose of developing an interface to their charger.
    #28
  9. Piggdekk

    Piggdekk love speed, hate rush

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    According to the press charge dumpers are supplied and operated by ENEL, the main italian energy supplier and main sponsor of the championship. No idea who built them in the first place, but wonder what the insurance will have to say about this huge mess! ENEL is building hundreds of charging station across Italy.
    luca
    #29
  10. ctromley

    ctromley Long timer

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    What little I've read suggests they are using dump chargers, which is a very different animal from even the Level 3 chargers ENEL might be installing in Europe. All a Level 3 charger has to do is turn a lot of mains AC power into DC at the voltage and current the vehicle says it wants. No batteries involved, except for the vehicle pack being charged, and it has its own quick-charge management hardware and software.

    Dump charging means you need to do your own charge and discharge management of the dump pack, which discharges at very high rates, which means you have to develop and test at those higher rates. One article mentioned the dump charger was a prototype. That suggests they just found out the hard way that there's more development to do. Pack design is something of a black art, and it gets darker at very high discharge rates. My guess is that the builders were less-informed than they should be, or pressed for time, or both. Which begs the question, what will they supply to replace it? One article said the first round is cancelled, but they want to proceed with the rest. It's not good PR for everyone to be afraid of being near the dump charger. What track would be willing to risk burning down a garage?

    The (hopefully) good news is that if ENEL is committed to installing charging infrastructure in a big way, they would be very concerned about public perception and the future sales of EVs. So they'll be very clear and vocal in their assurances that this fire was the fault of a developing technology, not one in public use - and not a fault of the vehicles at all.
    #30
  11. jas67

    jas67 Long timer

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    Maybe that's why they were in a TEMPORARY garage? :hmmmmm
    #31