How e-bike battery fires became a deadly crisis in New York City
In a nutshell:
As e-bikes have exploded in popularity, there has been a corresponding spike in exploding lithium ion batteries. Pandemic-driven demand and loose regulations opened the early market to scores of cheap machines propelled by cheap batteries. With market forces driving the headlong pursuit of more amp-hours, corners may have been cut. Mistakes may have been made. And small, powerful, lithium ion batteries, rushed to market to power this emerging revolution in transportation continue to pose a public health hazard.
“The problem is that we’re trying to squeeze too much energy out of these batteries, and that makes them more dangerous,” said Nikhil Gupta, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering.
E-bikes are here to stay. An energy transition is taking hold and electric bicycles and scooters, especially prized by those who work or commute on city streets, are leading the way. In urban centers like New York City and London, where people often charge their batteries in small apartments, lithium battery fires are emerging as a leading cause of fatal fires. The dangers of lithium batteries have been on the radar of fire officials for years and rigorous steps have been taken by regulators to make them safer in myriad consumer electronics and electric vehicles. Safety regulations for the manufacture of e-bike batteries, scant in the past, are ramping up and poised to change.
Read the full story in The New York Times.