E-bike explosion: Cyclist’s homemade e-bike battery has exploded in Adelaide

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An e-bike rider is lucky to be alive after the battery on his bike exploded into flames while he was riding it.

Dramatic video captured the moment he attempted to mount his bike in a carpark in Salisbury North on Wednesday afternoon before a number of explosions.

Bright orange flames spread over the bike within seconds, grazing the man’s legs as he tried to jump off.

“It was like fireworks and very smokey,” a witness told Nine News.

“None of us wanted to go near it, it was like a grenade just shooting everywhere,” the witness said.

The man can be seen kicking the bike to the side as the tries to escape the flames and debris popping out.

It was later revealed that the man had engineered a homemade battery that had failed, causing it to explode.

It is not the first time an e-bike battery has exploded in Adelaide.

An e-bike battery caught alight inside a family home in August last year, which caused an estimated $200,000 in damage to the inside of the house.

Metropolitan Fire Service station officer Craig Attard said at the time that these fires are usually linked to overcharging of batteries, using non-compliant or non-compatible batteries and charging equipment or people building their own batteries at home.

“These are choices that could cost you your life, your home or your garage.” he said.

E-bike owners have been warned again to only buy batteries from reputable manufacturers.

Spate of e-bike and e-scooter fires prompts warning

They’re fun, convenient, cheap and growing in popularity, but there is also a dangerous side to e-scooters and e-bikes that has authorities concerned.

Market consulting firm P&S Intelligence reports the Australian micro mobility market — which encompasses both electric and traditional bikes and scooters, as well as electric mopeds and three-wheeled ‘pods’ — generated $16.9m in revenue in 2020.

The largest share of that figure was in e-scooter sales, due to their cost effectiveness.

But since then people have been hurt or killed when the rideable devices, mostly powered by lithium-ion batteries, have burst into flames.

Most incidents have occurred with low-quality light electric vehicles while they were charging.

EV FireSafe, a body tracking electric vehicle battery fires thanks to Defence Department funding, found 97 people were injured, and eight killed, in 57 separate incidents worldwide since the start of the year.

The project’s director Emma Sutcliffe said 13 of those serious incidents occurred in Australia, with the same number of people being injured.

Ms Sutcliffe said there were three issues with low-quality electric vehicles: they often have poor quality lithium ion battery cells and battery management systems; they take a beating in normal operation; and they’re often stored or charged inside a home or workplace, so there is a higher risk of a fire spreading.

“Not all LEVs are poor quality and many companies are using high quality lithium-ion battery cells and battery management systems,” she said.

Battery packs are made up of a module of smaller battery cells, like a group of traditional AA batteries all working together. If damaged or overcharged, those cells can begin generating heat and internal gas build-up.

The heat from the faulty cell spreads to other nearby cells, creating a chain reaction and eventual explosive exothermic reaction as those built up gases burst, catch fire, and vent from the battery module.

“LEV owners should check out their state fire agency advice for lithium ion battery operation, charging and storage,” said Ms Sutcliffe.

“They should also be aware of the early signs of thermal runaway: loud popping noises; hissing or whistling noises; clouds of ‘smoke’ coming from the battery pack — this is actually toxic and flammable gases that can cause respiratory distress, ignite, or explode.”

Originally published as Moment cyclist’s e-bike explodes while riding in Adelaide

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