Aim: The aim of the article is to present the current state of knowledge regarding the possibility of suppressing or effectively extinguishing fires of electric vehicle. Due to the growing popularity of means of transport powered by electric batteries, the problem of emerging fires and their effects is becoming recognizable. Due to the possible violent process of combustion of lithium-ion batteries (hereinafter referred to as Li-Ion batteries), a fire in a vehicle may lead to a wide range of property damage. For at least a decade, intensive efforts have been made to develop appropriate methods to allow firefighters to deal with the problem of fires of electric vehicles. These activities were directed, among others, at new fire extinguishing/suppression techniques, innovative extinguishing agents and methods of their application.

Introduction: Taking into account the current global trends in changing the method of powering vehicles from fossil fuels into electricity, the occurrence of such events should be expected to intensify. The authors systematize the issue by analysing the literature on fires, Li-Ion batteries being a critical element that may initiate a fire. The adopted and practiced methods of extinguishing/suppressing a fire as well as the used extinguishing agents were also analysed. The publication may be an element helpful in selecting the most optimal fire extinguishing method of the electric energy storage unit in a vehicle.

Methodology: The review of the current state of knowledge was made based on publications on the fire characteristics of Li-Ion batteries, as well as works and research projects in the field of extinguishing methods and the effectiveness of various extinguishing agents. In addition, the procedures used by the emergency services and selected real events were analysed.

Conclusions: Fires of Li-Ion batteries are a relatively new and growing phenomenon. Fires in fully or partially electric vehicles are much more difficult to fully extinguish compared to fires in vehicles with internal combustion engines. So far, no effective method has been developed that would allow a fire to be extinguished in a short time. Activities in this area focus on minimizing the effects. There is still a need to look for new technical and tactical solutions in order to optimize the procedures leading to more effective activities of the services in this type of incidents.

Keywords: lithium-ion battery, Li-Ion, fire, extinguishing, suppression

Type of article: review article