We sometimes tend to forget that batteries tend to be potentially volatile things – they can, if stressed beyond reasonable measure, go south, like catch fire and blow up.
That’s what happened to a prototype EV battery at GM’s Technical Center battery research lab a couple of days ago – it blew up, leaving plenty of damage but only one person requiring minor treatment for concussion and some checmical burns.
According to reports, a small fire had started due to “extreme testing of a prototype battery,” and the resultant explosion of the battery caused significant structural damage in the area used to test lithium-ion batteries.
GM did not state the kind of battery that exploded, but did say that it was an A123 Systems unit, and that it was undergoing tests that were meant to stress the battery. The automaker was quick to add that the battery was not Chevrolet Volt-related, in a bid to protect the car from more negative publicity than it has had already, with regards to battery-related safety.
In May last year, a Volt caught fire after a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) side-impact crash test was carried out on the vehicle, which prompted an investigation on the safety of lithium-ion batteries used for EVs. Last November, a further three Volts were tested by the NHTSA, and two out of three either sparked or caught fire while the third remained normal, the reports add.