View Comments: Newest First|Oldest First|Threaded View
Page 1/2  >  >>
William K.
User Rank
Re: Am I missing something?
William K.   1/23/2012 9:34:18 PM
I doubt very much that when cars were first fueled with gasoline that there was any large public concern about the dangerous fuel. At least, not in the USA. The high ambient fear level is caused primarily by those who thrive on being fearmongers, and has very little to do with anything actually being worthy of being afraid of. A hundred years ago most people considered that they were responsible for their personal safety, and that they could not always depend on somebody else every time they had a problem.

Now as for the battery catching fire three weeks after a crash, I hope that the occupants would be out of the damaged vehicle by then, and well out of harms way. Three weeks after a crash the vehicle would normally be either scrapped or in the process of being repaired, so the condition is really unrealistic. Besides all of that, given that it would be known that it was a battery vehicle, after the crash there could be a mandatory battery disabling procedure developed and published, and distributed to all those who handle wrecked cars.

The pole test side impact is a test to simulate a side impact of a vehicle. It probably is a fair simulation of a car being hit by another car running through a red light. Is that a high-percentage type of accident? What is the probability that such an impact would cause a catastrophic battery problem within a few minutes? Would the battery cause a fire upon such an impact? is the battery driven car more dangerous in this aspect than other cars? My guess is that it is not, and as long as the occupants exit the vehicle within a day or so they should be safe.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Re: Blame in on the circuit board
Rob Spiegel   1/12/2012 3:16:17 PM
This is a good story, Lou. Want to submit it for a Made by Monkeys posting? You would need to flesh out the story a bit. We shoot for 350 or more words. You're close on this. We would also need the make of car.

If you're interested, let me know at: rob.spiegel@ubm.com

John D.
User Rank
Chevy Volt Battery Trouble
John D.   1/12/2012 11:06:17 AM
So then GM is going to make the battery resistant to damage arising from the stipulated test conditions, but when a crash occurs that exceeds the definitions of those test conditions (and it WILL happen to somebody, are we still going to have the same fire issues?

Another question I can't seem to get an answer to. Hav GM and the battery manufacturer provided the Lithium-Ion battery with cell balancing provisions? If not, it's my view that the battery is a fire threat for entirely different reasons than I see being discussed.

User Rank
Re: Blame in on the circuit board
Lou_C1357   1/12/2012 8:47:00 AM

I honestly blame this on how cars are designed not, on a desktop via a computer.  I have come across some bone headed things in my years of vehicle ownership, where if the designer had physically gone over the design as cars were assembled.  Example:  A previous truck I owned placed an exhaust pipe just to the rear of the engine.  This particular pipe crossed the exhaust from the driver's side to the passenger side.  Its location was relatively close to the oil pan drain.  Now this drain was placed so it was perfectly horizontal and pointing straight at the above exhaust pipe.  SO whenever the drain plug was removed the oil would shoot all over the exhaust pipe.  I used to place a cut coffee can over the pipe to prevent this.  All of this could have been avoided if the drain plug had been tilted downward.  Simple change, but the effect would have been much easier oil changes.  If you do any sort of periodic maintenance on a vehicle you run into things like this all the time, like zerk fitting pointing up making them difficult to reach, when if they had been placed on the bottom or side would have made life easier.  

User Rank
Re: Am I missing something?
tedbeau   1/12/2012 7:42:51 AM
I agree, I don't understand why they are beefing up the side support if supposedly that's not where the leak occured. The mentioned it was a slow roll test, I would assume a car flipped over for a prolonged time would be even worse, more time for the coolant to leak to the circuit board.

I am not a fan of the Volt, but I do have to think that when we first started making car fueled by such a dangerous fuel as gasoline a hundred years ago I am sure there was a lot of public fear and concern. Some of it was proved true, I'm sure but we learned how to deal with gasoline spillls.

There are those that voiced the same concerns over hydrogen powered cars. They all remember the film clip of the Hindenburg. I read an opinion that stated that hydrogen is somewhat safer in th event of  leak because it disapates faster. It doesn't just lay in a puddle on the ground like gasoline.


TJ McDermott
User Rank
Independent testing
TJ McDermott   1/11/2012 11:43:29 PM
I think some independent testing is necessary to give the average consumer the confidence that the cars will be safe.  Will tests done by NHTSA be accepted?  I think not.  It's not even a cool acronym!

What is needed, is some documented rollover tests.  Paging Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.

With apologies to the hard workers at NHTSA.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Re: Blame in on the circuit board
Ann R. Thryft   1/11/2012 2:14:17 PM

I've got a war story about a coolant leak causing a car fire. It happened years back in my first Nissan Sentra, a model with consistently good repair records. Unbeknown to anyone, including me or my mechanic, the coolant well was damaged in an accident. In a Rube Goldberg-like series of events, over a few months a slow leak gradually destroyed a gasket which somehow exposed some wires (I forget the details after 25 years). One night, after parking my car in the small garage attached to my apartment building and pulling the door down, I happened to see a faint glow underneath the car. If there had been a streetlight in the wrong place or if the garage had lacked a door, I would never have seen it. It was flame in the underbody reflecting off the floor--I was actually witnessing the beginning of a fire in my car, moments after I'd stopped driving it and moments before I would have left it locked in the garage. Fortunately, the fire department got there in time.

This discussion makes me wonder why things aren't sealed off better from each other to prevent such failures. Or is it just too jammed up in these small engines and engine compartments?

User Rank
Re: Blame in on the circuit board
Streetlight   1/11/2012 1:06:40 PM
    Hearing about this for the past months made it look like some sort of an esoteric defect. All the while its simply a PC board failure. Good grief.

   I gots to say, that board should have been sealed - and whatever exposure - should have been detected and fixed.

    Be that as it may- this oversight by project management is a flag to all EV drives-whomever. 

    War story: Way back in the stone age we had two fully loaded standard size 19" cabinets. Naturally, at that time the heaviest component the power supply mounted below. A wonderful heater we didn't need and which unwanted heat we didn't provide for.

     So...we had to add a fan on top of the cabinet. Now it wouldn't fit through a standard size door-spec'd in the contract. But all functions passed. The customer (a nat'l lab) saw no reason to worry having to tilt the cabinet through a doorway. But our competition yelled unfair.

     Now we have a meeting. Must have been 15 people for half a morning - all over - what. A dumb fan.



User Rank
Re: Am I missing something?
Lou_C1357   1/11/2012 11:24:23 AM
Let's face it there is never going to be a fool proof way to contain the coolant, so the fix will fall to the circuit card, probably in the form a coating, or relocating it to an area where coolant, even if leaked will not come into contact with the circuit board in question.  The other glaring issue is the fire occurred 5 days after the roll over test.  Seems to me this is also going to involve some sort of way to disconnect power post-accident.  I am assuming the circuit board got is power from the battery cell.  I am also wondering if this roll over test was not "violent" enough to cause any safety feature that would have disconnected the battery.  Too many questions, not enough detail to make any sort of analysis.

User Rank
Re: Blame in on the circuit board
FarmerRedWhiteAndBlue   1/11/2012 10:42:32 AM
Alexander, All EV's are hazardous for first responders. Whenever an EV is involved in an incident, all of the rescuers must be extra cautious to prevent the inadvertent electrocution of participants. This problem of familiarization with risks is not a new problem however. For nearly a century, their have been procedures (evolving for sure) to deal with the real threats that are present at every incident.

The EV and all of the newer cars have added risks, that just cannot be assessed effectively, for first responders. Their systems are so complicated and varied that education of the personnel is just not feasable. Neither is it supported by the manufacturers! Just try to get the specs for the locations of all of the air bags, actuators and explosive charges in any new car. All of the hazards at a scene contribute to the time that it takes to provide the services that save lives.

We should all lobby for automobile manufacturers to publish detailed extracation information of every vehicle they build, in an online, public forum as soon as their design is completed. In the case of the Volt, GM had (has) to send out a special team after every incident to drain the battery and make the vehicle safe, as I understand.

BTW, First responders have ALREADY been injured and killed by these automobiles. Thank you for recognizing the problem though. I salute you for that!

Page 1/2  >  >>

Partner Zone
Latest Analysis
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team 100 to make (about $161 US).
At Medical Design & Manufacturing Midwest, Joe Wascow told Design News how Optimal Design prototyped a machine that captures the wing-beat of a duck.
The increased adoption of wireless technology for mission-critical applications has revved up the global market for dynamic electronic general purpose (GP) test equipment. As the link between cloud networks and devices -- smartphones, tablets, and notebooks -- results in more complex devices under test, the demand for radio frequency test equipment is starting to intensify.
Much of the research on lithium-ion batteries is focused on how to make the batteries charge more quickly and last longer than they currently do, work that would significantly improve the experience of mobile device users, as well EV and hybrid car drivers. Researchers in Singapore have come up with what seems like the best solution so far -- a battery that can recharge itself in mere minutes and has a potential lifespan of 20 years.
Design News Webinar Series
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
9/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
9/10/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Oct 20 - 24, How to Design & Build an Embedded Web Server: An Embedded TCP/IP Tutorial
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6

Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: 10/28-10/30 11:00 AM
Sponsored by Stratasys
Next Class: 10/28-10/30 2:00 PM
Sponsored by Gates Corporation
Next Class: 11/11-11/13 2:00 PM
Sponsored by Littelfuse
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service