back to article A ship carrying 800 tonnes of Li-Ion batteries caught fire. What could possibly go wrong?

The US Coast Guard has advised that a ship carrying around 800 tonnes of Lithium-Ion batteries – some of which caught fire – is out of danger after its crew handled the situation admirably. This story starts when the good ship Genius Star XI left South Korea on December 17, bound for the United States. According to Maritime …

  1. Catkin Silver badge

    Carbon Dioxide?

    Evidently it worked but I'm surprised because I'd expect the lithium to do what magnesium does and tear apart the CO2 to get at the oxygen.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Carbon Dioxide?

      Lithium-Ion batteries have very little lithium in them; it's the electrolyte that burns.

      1. MrAptronym

        Re: Carbon Dioxide?

        Indeed, to be specific lithium ion batteries when operating correctly do not contain metallic lithium. It is true that a lithium *metal* fire is very difficult to put out.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

    I don't get the point of these articles. Is there a big PR push by oil companies?

    1. lnLog

      Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

      They will have charge in them, as part of the manufacturing process is to apply charge to form the surfaces (chemistry / texture) of the plates after initial assembly. The article does not mention if this is nickel (NMC) of iron (LFP) Lithium cells, the latter do not suffer from thermal runaway due to damage.

    2. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

      When's the last time you bought a phone or any other device with a Li-Ion battery and it was 0% charged when you got it? It's not like they're shucking every iPhone that comes into port, charging them, then reapplying the shrink wrap. It's done at the factory and they just sit in a powered off state while they make their way on the slow boat from China and to various warehouses before being sold onto people like you.

      1. Dave K

        Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

        And for good reason. It can ruin a Lithium-Ion battery to be completely 100% depleted. Indeed the best way of ruining a spare phone/laptop battery (back when they were changeable) was to keep it in a drawer for 2 years and never connect it to replenish any charge that has leaked away.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

          Determining whether the replacement laptop battery you wish to order has been sitting on a shelf for few years or not is one of the uncertainties of replacing laptop batteries.

      2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

        All batteries have charge even when they are ZERO percent full, just like 0 degrees F or C is not the bottom.

        Zero percent on a battery is just a low mark measued in volts that the battery can be emptied and then recharged without major damage. You can if you really want such more juice out of abattery and it will go lower than zero, and you will also likely really damage the battery.

    3. Zola

      Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

      Most shipping companies have rules when transporting Li-Ion-based cargo, especially EVs.

      For example, the batteries in the EVs must only have enough juice for a quick spin around the dock and loading on/off the ship - maybe 10%-20%. They will be topped up once they are unloaded, and they will have been sat outside the ship for at least 48 hours prior to loading.

      I would expect similar when a ship is fully loaded with Li-ion batteries - the individual cells should be at a fairly low state of charge, and should have been stable for several days prior to loading.

      Obviously poorly packed cells could be damaged during transport (rough seas etc.) which could lead to puncturing, which might be the case here - none of the above precautions is likely to prevent such an outcome.

      However if the cells were being shipped at a high state of charge and/or without adequate safety checks prior to loading then the shipping company has learned a lesson the rest of the shipping industry already knows about.

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

        Even if the batteries are 10% full, it really doesnt matter, because if one battery goes nuts, its basically unstoppable. There have already been many stories of this happening from Dreamliners to that EV transport ship that sunk of NL or Luton.

        Oh yes Luton happened because EVs somewhere in the timeline caught fire and there was nothing the FD could do to stop them.

        1. Eric Olson

          Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

          I have to dig around, but there was a YT a while back of a tech showing why lithium batteries are flammable, and I believe one of the tests was level of charge. Those that were not charged beyond a certain point didn't catch fire even after being pierced, as they didn't have the energy necessary to ignite.

          I believe there is (was) a regulation about batteries being transported en masse (think air freight), they needed to be below a certain charge level to be safe.

          Edit: Found a study by the FAA, and it's abstract shows that batteries with a state of charge of 30% or less were much less prone to runaway thermal issues than those charged at 70% and higher.

          (https://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/pdf/tctn22-27.pdf)

          1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

            Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

            Yes of course more charge obviously means there is more chance of bad stuff happening, but that doesnt change the fact, that there are no systems to actually stop a battery once its on fire.

            The proble is the layered nature includings all the elements necessary for a battery fire to keep burning. You can drop water on a battery, butthat isnt a guarantee the fire is gone, because inside the layers there could be damage from previous heat or fire to allow the chemicals to mix and start a new fire.

        2. Zola

          Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

          No. Just, no.

          Luton (and Liverpool and Stavanger) car park fires happened because a petrol/diesel vehicle set fire to more petrol/diesel vehicles thanks to them all having plastic fuel tanks. Read the conclusions on the Liverpool and Stavanger fires, it's going to be the same with Luton - the fire spread rapidly due to plastic fuel tanks, and nothing to do with EVs.

          Not sure which transport ship you are referring to, but if it's the Fremantle Highway then the EVs were all stowed on the lower decks and did not burn - it was only the petrol/diesel vehicles on the upper decks that burned. The empty loading deck between the EVs and ICE vehicles prevented the spread of fire from the upper decks to the EVs. Again, read the reports (rather than dealing with conspiracy theories).

          1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

            Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

            Does it matter what started Luton ?

            Are you really going to tell me in that car park of 1500 cars there was not a single EV car there ? OF course there were many lets say conservatively dozens.

            Once those EV's caught fire it was game over, the temp of the fire increased 3x, because EV batteries burn that hot. When the heat reaches those numbers, the steel and concreete fail.

            We have had ICE fires for a 100 years, FD know how to fight them, and just as important the temp is significantly less, and doe snot cause steel and buildings to fail.

            https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/03/burnt-out-ship-fremantle-highway-carrying-3700-cars-towed-to-dutch-port-of-eemshaven

            > The cause of the fire remains unclear, although the vessel’s owner has said it may have been one of the electric vehicles on board.

            https://www.ft.com/content/e3e72d21-3292-4b0c-b498-66ea15ae95d8

            >

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            https://www.ft.com/content/e3e72d21-3292-4b0c-b498-66ea15ae95d8

            A fire possibly started by electric vehicles on board another ship in the Atlantic Ocean last year led to the loss of $155mn worth of Volkswagen vehicles, according to risk assessment group Russell. Prices for insuring EVs as cargo, whether on sea or land, are one-and-a-half-times as expensive as for combustion engines, according to one insurance market participant

            ---

            Strange insurance rates for transporting EVs are higher ???

            i wonder why ?

    4. Tom66

      Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

      They do, usually to around 10-20% SoC. Such batteries are still volatile; less volatile than if they were fully charged, but nonetheless still posing some risk.

      An interesting development may be sodium-ion batteries which can be safely discharged to 0V (based on preliminary information from some manufacturers.) This makes them completely inert during transport.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

      At $dayjob we typically like to transport out Li-Ion batteries at between 30-35% SOC. That's a range where they're much less likely to turn exciting. There was a lot of discussion about balancing a low SOC for safety with a high enough SOC so that the assembled vehicle could move to a charging station under its own power, even after considering self discharge in the supply chain.

      Ours are NMC, the completed batteries are about 100 kWh. I don't want to be around if one burns up.

    6. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

      Lets pretend oil companies are publicizing this, does it matter ?

      SHouldnt we all be concerned that these sources of unstoppable fires are allowed in our communities where fire departments have no actual means of fighting them ?

      1. Zola

        Re: I assume they discharge batteries before shipping them?

        Do you have any idea what your are ranting about? Based on normalised sales numbers, ICE vehicles are up to 20x more likely to spontaneously catch fire than pure electric vehicles (avoid hybrids, they're death traps - probably because they're the worst of both worlds).

        Up to 300 petrol & diesel vehicles are the cause of fires in the UK every DAY but yeah, EVs are the problem. Got it.

  3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    Time for full LiFePo switch

    They don't have the runaway burn problem as the other widely available Li* and a few other variants.

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

      Lithium-ion batteries are/were used for their favourable energy densities and cost; and because of Chinese owned Patent issues with the much safer and cheaper Li-iron-phosphate (LFP) types - The majority of Chinese Electric vehicles (obviously) use LFP. These patents are about to expire/have expired and it seems likely that for most new vehicles the LFP type will be used. Tesla have already moved more than half their models to LFP, giving a much safer vehicle, but at a cost of ~15% reduced range (probably not an issue for most normal cars).

      Many reported electric vehicle fires appear to be from Li-ion batteries from electric scooters charged within households. Perhaps battery swapping, as is common in Taiwan, solves this?

      1. Pete Sdev Bronze badge
        Flame

        Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

        Many reported electric vehicle fires appear to be from Li-ion batteries from electric scooters charged within households

        Indeed, with the extra info that it would appear it's often cheap non-inspected scooter batteries and/or chargers involved. User error (e.g. charging a damaged battery) is also not to be completely excluded.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

          Something else to factor in is that these packs have also likely been made from crap cells to start with.

        2. Tom66

          Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

          One problem with e-scooters and their bretherin is because they are cheap and small, many uncertified devices are imported and sold in the UK/EU market. This is one reason why TfL banned e-scooters/unicycles on the Tube, because so many of these devices are not tested to meet relevant safety standards. Many didn't even include battery balancing or monitoring, relying on the battery self-balancing, which is a recipe for disaster once the battery experiences some wear from usage.

          1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

            Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

            Are you sure it was because of safety ?

            They were banned because a lot of idiots on scooters ride them in the wrong place. My bet is enough scooters were being ridden on platforms, and from what ive seen London train platforms are very narrow and well the rest is obvious.

      2. Excused Boots Bronze badge
        Joke

        Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

        LiFePo?

        Lithium - Iron - Polonium?

        I'll take your word for that combination being less inclined to spontaneously combust, particularly nasty if it does though, I'd have thought.

        One Mr V. Putin would like to order a dozen though, on a trial basis obviously!

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

          > Lithium - Iron - Polonium?

          Oh, we have a picky one here. Tiniest typo, even a missing caps, is enough to trigger your joke bone :D. LiFePO4

      3. StudeJeff

        Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

        Hmm... maybe the rest of the world should give Chinese patents the same respect the Red Chinese give ours.

    2. MrAptronym

      Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

      To be fair, LFP is not perfect. The lower capacity is a major factor in why we don't switch. In the battery world capacity is obviously a huge consideration and LFP is noticeably behind there. LFP is mostly considered for cost if anything, though for cars I think the safety aspect is a real perk. I suspect you will see more LFP cars for sure, but I doubt it takes over. In the US, range has been a huge concern for adoption and I suspect that high end EVs will keep higher capacity chemistries. Even without switching to LFP there is hopefully work that could be done to produce safer batteries through changing the electrolyte chemistry.

      Personally I would love to see less cobalt, nickel and manganese used for environmental and ethical reasons.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

        If "car is the real perk" then everything else is too. Especially when used in a house with solar cells, since the engery density is still very good compared to most others. The price is not yet there though.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

        IIRC, LFP also has a very flat open circuit voltage vs state of charge curve. NMC is pretty linear from about 3.5-4.1V with a drop off below about 10% SOC. The voltage of an LFP stays very consistent through most of its capacity.

        That consistent voltage has some advantages, but I'm guessing that puts more focus on needing to have your battery management system perform careful Coulomb counting in order to properly protect the battery (with a NMC, if you "forget" how much charge has gone in and out, you can make a good guess at the current SOC based on the cell voltage).

        I could be misremembering my chemistries here, I only deal with NMC right now.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

        Any battery anywhere near people that could burn and release cobalt is not a good thing as you're utterly f*cked if you come into contact with the stuff. The sooner they're gone the better.

        1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

          Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

          Batteries by their chemical nature will always have cobalt of some other of its poisonous brothers such as as one of their core components.

          The very thing that makes these metals poisonous is also the checmical trait that makes them a great compoonent of a battery.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

            What about Sodium-ion batteries?

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

              You are the first with about ten times my typo score. Thank you!

            2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

              Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

              Of course sodium batteries are dangerous. Look at the periodic table, the core important components of batteries all come from either the extreme left or right most column. THey are all nasty chemicals and harmful because of their electron belts they really want to release energy and this is what makes them dangerous.

      4. StudeJeff

        Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

        There is another advantage to LFP batteries, from what we know about them so far they will last longer than Li-ion batteries.

        Another plus is that it doesn't bother them to be charged to 100%, in fact if they AREN'T charged to 100% once a week or so it's bad for them. While it's hard on the Li-ion batteries to be fully charged.

        Tesla recommends only charging Li-ion batteries to 100% if you are about to go on a road trip.

        When I was considering a Model 3 at first I was looking at the dual motor long range, but the real world longer range is only about 50 miles, which wasn't enough to justify the additional $7,000 price.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

      They do suffer from thermal runaway, just not as badly as the NMC types.

    4. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: Time for full LiFePo switch

      Says who ?

      All batteries have this problem.

      The problem is because of the chemical and sstructyre of the battery. THe layering of the components only requires a small fail in one part, and then the chemicals come into contract and the fire is self sustaining.

  4. aerogems Silver badge
    Mushroom

    I'm betting that would have been quite the fireworks display if the ship had sunk because of the fire.

    I'm fascinated by nanoflow liquid batteries. Especially for things like cars, they seem to be extremely well suited since they're not a fire risk, you can "recharge" them in about the same time as it takes to pump gas into a car today, and the energy density is already around that of Li-Ion and it's only like 50% of what it's capable of. You'd probably be able to quickly and easily convert existing gas stations for use with this new fuel which would make it a lot cheaper to roll out compared to setting up EV charging stations everywhere and running high voltage, high capacity, lines to them.

    https://newatlas.com/energy/influit-flow-battery-density/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have a sneaking suspicion that this solution will run headlong into the apparent desire of governments to ram mileage/kilometer charges down our throat which (naturally entirely by accident) demands active surveillance of the population to make it work (you can't distinguish between electricity as you can with blue and red diesel and there's no way on Earth government officials will accept the cut in taxes they can waste that E-driving is presently offering - that's enough of a hint that something is waiting in the wings).

      It's but a theory, but I cannot find any other explanation why we are hard pushed to go electric instead of low CO2 which would keep open research into more solutions. The already 'invested' CO2 in the existing sea of vehicles would thus not have to be written off, but no, it HAD to be electric.

      Oh, and just keep an eye out for insurances who seem to be collaborating, or did you not notice the emergence of more and more distance based insurances?

      Anyway, I just wanted to post my first conspiracy theory of 2024. Sadly the facts suggest it may be more than just an amusing theory :(.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
        Stop

        Remember people: Don't feed the troll.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Remember people: Don't feed the troll.

          But can we sell them shiny metallic hats?

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        In the UK, electricity from a car charging point is taxed at a higher rate (20%) than domestic electricity (5%), and if you want a domestic car charger, that has to be connected to a separate meter, which allows them to apply a different tax rate to that part of your bill in future.

        While you can charge a car from a regular 13A socket, the amount of mileage you can get out of that isn't huge in the overall scheme of things.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Public charging points do attract the full 20% VAT but private charging points (such as at home) currently do not at this point in time.

          Getting a home EV charger doesn't need a second meter as you now have to install 'smart' chargers and that can do the metering internally. Currently they are used for rate limiting at peak times and some suppliers offer cheaper rates for EV charging during times of low electricity demand and high renewable production.

          I do foresee a major change in tax coming soon for home EV charging as the govt desperately claw back the lost revenue from fuel duty and VED.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Getting a home EV charger doesn't need a second meter as you now have to install 'smart' chargers and that can do the metering internally. Currently they are used for rate limiting at peak times and some suppliers offer cheaper rates for EV charging during times of low electricity demand and high renewable production.

            Aye, there's the rub. The requirement is for that 'smart charger' that can measure and report EV charging to the 'smart' metering network to identify (and potentially restrict) EV charging. As pretty much all installed 'smart' meters don't support that functionality, the practical effect is consumers would need a second meter.

            I do foresee a major change in tax coming soon for home EV charging as the govt desperately claw back the lost revenue from fuel duty and VED.

            And also to avoid all the EV costs being loaded onto everyone's electricity bills, which would be highly regressive and push more people into energy poverty. They're also talking about moving some subsidy costs off electricity bills and onto gas, where they belong. I suspect that's more a 'nudge' policy to try and move people off gas rather than any attempt to alleviate energy poverty though. And HMG is full of crazy ideas, like letting more people play arbitrage-

            https://www.gov.uk/government/news/families-could-use-electric-vehicle-batteries-to-power-homes-and-save-on-bills-as-government-backs-new-charging-technologies

            Families could soon save hundreds of pounds on energy bills by using electricity stored in their electric vehicles (EVs) to power home appliances such as fridges and washing machines – thanks to new 2-way charging technologies being supported with government funding.

            Yey! But like most 'renewables' garbage, the odds of saving 'hundreds of pounds' by using your EV to heat your home because the heat pump you've installed isn't up to the job.

        2. FIA Silver badge

          In the UK, electricity from a car charging point is taxed at a higher rate (20%) than domestic electricity (5%)

          Isn't that because the charging point is a business so subject to the 20% tax rate for it's electricity, rather than the 5% domestic rate?

          and if you want a domestic car charger, that has to be connected to a separate meter, which allows them to apply a different tax rate to that part of your bill in future.

          Do you have a source? I couldn't find anywhere online that mentions this. I also have a friend who's had one installed in the last few years, but doesn't have split metering.

          This page from EDF, for example,. seems to suggest I can take advantage of my home tariffs off rate hours by using scheduling, and makes no mention of a separate tax rate.

          1. cyberdemon Silver badge

            You missed the "allows them to [...] in future". It's a thin-end of a wedge. The UK and other countries are moving steadily closer to mandatory smart metering, because it gives them surveillance and taxation opportunities.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Stop being paranoid

              > "The UK and other countries are moving steadily closer to mandatory smart metering, because it gives them surveillance and taxation opportunities."

              NO. Real motivations for smart metering include:

              - it allows to predict demand fluctuations in real time and adapt power generation accordingly

              - it allows to send price information to households and to appliances depending on offer and demand (as opposed to depending of time of the day) and therefore to make the best of low cost renewable when there is a lot of it.

              - it allows demand shaping at the local level instead of at the national level. This is mandatory when power generation is much more distributed.

              1. cyberdemon Silver badge
                Devil

                Re: Stop being paranoid

                - it allows to predict demand fluctuations in real time and adapt power generation accordingly

                That can be easily done at substation level, no reason to do that at individual household level, unless you are trying to work out how many occupants each household has, to check they are paying the right amount of tax for example

                - it allows to send price information to households and to appliances depending on offer and demand (as opposed to depending of time of the day) and therefore to make the best of low cost renewable when there is a lot of it.

                It shifts price fluctuation risks onto consumers instead of the energy companies

                - it allows demand shaping at the local level instead of at the national level. This is mandatory when power generation is much more distributed.

                It allows consumers to be disconnected for arbitrary reasons: forcing people into pre-payment mode can be done without a court warrant to enter the property. Rationing can be established. Tiered service models can be established: Pay us extra otherwise you'll be the first to be disconnected in a load shedding event.

                It's also a cyber-attacker's dream

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Stop being paranoid

                  You don't seem to get it. Only customers can make decisions to consume or not. This is why prices have to be transparently shared with consumers.

                  When there is a glut of solar or wind power, then spot prices will go down. Consumer (configurable price aware appliances) will be aware of the threshold and use resources that would otherwise be wasted (home batteries, heaters, EV battery charger, freezers, etc). It's a win-win.

                  This is already happening in Italy with WindTre Luce & Gas where consumers are charged, on average much cheaper, wholesale prices. If it makes economic sense, it will spread. Whether you like it or not.

                  1. cyberdemon Silver badge

                    Re: Stop being paranoid

                    Who wants a freezer that starts defrosting whenever the wind stops blowing and then goes back to deep freeze when the wind picks up again, thermally cycling and ruining the food inside?

                    Or a heater that only heats when the sun is shining?

                    An EV that may-or-may-not be charged in the morning when you need to go to work? Or one whose battery is shot through repeated cycling as it has been commandeered by the smart grid to provide inertia..

                    This is being forced onto us, through taxes and subsidies at first, and mandate later

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Are you an engineer?

                      > "Who wants a freezer that starts defrosting whenever the wind stops blowing and then goes back to deep freeze when the wind picks up again, thermally cycling and ruining the food inside?

                      You're not trying very hard. Do you really think nobody has thought of all this. Seriously?

                      - WATER heater (not room heater of course) have a lot of flexibility. They already support this kind of off-peak/peak hours. But this is static (based on time or impulse).

                      - Freezers also support ranges of target temperature.

                      - Of course EV chargers will need to support priorities. Start of the night in eco-mode and, if eco-mode can not achieve target charge at target time, upgrade to priority charge (not price aware).

                      Do you really want to lower GHG emissions or not? Then let's start to be smart.

                    2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

                      Re: Stop being paranoid

                      Solar and wind doesnt work like that. For starters there are many examples where solar and wind is used to pump water upstream to fill a dam, which can then be released later on as necessary.

                      The real problem is why are so many people driving to work there are better ways, when many can work much more locally or even at home. The dumb idea is forcing people to drive 1 - 2 hours a day.

                  2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                    Re: Stop being paranoid

                    When there is a glut of solar or wind power, then spot prices will go down. Consumer (configurable price aware appliances) will be aware of the threshold and use resources that would otherwise be wasted (home batteries, heaters, EV battery charger, freezers, etc). It's a win-win.

                    No, it's lose-lose.

                    None of this can or will happen without a complete reform of the UK energy market. None of this can happen without true smart metering. Current 'smart' meters are exceptionally dumb and can do little more than remote meter reading and disconnections. Configurable price aware devices do not currently exist.

                    So it's a nice pipe dream, but the reality is, as usual massive costs that will be passed on to consumers. Existing 'smart' meters will need to be replaced, as would existing appliances. Industry will, of course hate the idea because if meters were sent tariffs, there's no real reason why they couldn't be sent tariffs from multiple suppliers. Consumers could then automatically pick the lowest tariff for the next hour, or day. Obviously this would greatly benefit consumers, but not suppliers, so they really don't want this kind of 'smart' metering and supply network.

                    But in typical 'Green' thinking, it would generate an enormous amount of scrap meters and appliances for no real benefit, if consumers are still locked into single supplier contracts. It would obviously also disadvantage the 'renewables' scumbags because their product is generally the most expensive, but with the way the market is currently rigged, we're forced to buy it. And there are far simpler, and cheaper alternatives to sink and 'glut' in wind or solar power. As I've pointed out many times, we did this in the past with Economy 7 and storage heaters. If all new homes were mandated to be fitted with simple hot water tanks, those could be switched on to load-shed.

                    Oddly enough, the 'renewables' scumbags want us to 'invest' in far more complicated and expensive heat pumps instead of cheap insulated hot water cylinders and easily replaceable resistive heating elements. The Green's propaganda outfit ran a story recently about new, improved heat pumps that could actually heat water to safe temperatures to prevent them turning into legionella bioreactors. But amusingly the two best working fluids at the moment appear to be CO2, and.. Propane! What could possibly go wrong with liquid propane in a domestic environment?

                    (There's also some interesting news that insurers may be refusing home insurance, unless EVs are charged at least 15m away from their house. No idea if this is true or not, but any EV owners who've recenty renewed their home insurance & have read the small print might care to comment?)

                    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
                      Devil

                      Re: Stop being paranoid

                      Rather than pissing about with all this high tech smart bollocks, how about subsidising double glazing? There's a massive amount of houses that still have old single-glazed sash windows. It's low-hanging fruit that will make a far bigger difference. Yet it gets ignored. Why?. I suppose the AC troll will dismiss this as "whataboutism"

                      Agree with your post except the bit about refrigerants which is just troll-bait. I don't think propane in a heat pump is more dangerous than gas in a gas boiler, and CO2 refrigerants are great because as we know, CO2 is a very weak GHG!

                      Re. Insurance, my house insurance hasn't asked if I have an EV or not. But I do know that Car insurance is becoming exorbitantly expensive for EVs due to the cost of replacing the battery after the most minor of prangs

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Stop being paranoid

                        > I suppose the AC troll will dismiss this as "whataboutism"

                        Correct. You don't need me anymore. We can walk and chew gum.

                        Do we have the luxury of just "subsidising double glazing" and then wait to see if CO2 levels start plummeting? And then, if not, start working on smart metering (in case we're blessed enough to have cyberdemon's permission). Seems a bit dumb, IMOHO.

                      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                        Re: Stop being paranoid

                        Agree with your post except the bit about refrigerants which is just troll-bait. I don't think propane in a heat pump is more dangerous than gas in a gas boiler, and CO2 refrigerants are great because as we know, CO2 is a very weak GHG!

                        There are greater potential risks, ie liquid gases expanding and either burning, or displacing O2. I guess this may have some benefits for EVs as well, ie car AC of often uses CO2, so increase the amount and make into a fire suppression system. Too bad for the occupants if there's an electrical fault and they can't open their windows or doors though. But it was more amusing just seeing the Bbc advertising heat pumps that can get to high enough temperatures to supply properly hot water.

                        Re. Insurance, my house insurance hasn't asked if I have an EV or not. But I do know that Car insurance is becoming exorbitantly expensive for EVs due to the cost of replacing the battery after the most minor of prangs

                        Might be worth checking the small print. Mine's not due for renewal for a couple of months, and sounds like it may be a new clause to refuse claims, rather than asking people if they have an EV or not. I guess there would be similar risks and potential exclusions for indoor Powerwalls, or maybe even bike/scooter charging if insurers are seeing a lot of claims.

                    2. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Salvation is neigh!

                      It wouldn't be surprising if the neo-scum-wind-ludites-bag-mills were behind all this.

                      Fortunately, in one year time, the great MAGA will finally reign supreme, rid us from the green neo-luddite scumbags, sign an executive order to suppress climate warming research, fix Hunter Biden's laptop, release Hillary's emails, forbid the sale of EVs, make the windmills spin backwards, nominate Steve McIntyre as IPCC head, give Ukraine back to bro-Vlad and Taiwan back to bro-Xi. Amen!

                      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                        Re: Salvation is neigh!

                        It wouldn't be surprising if the neo-scum-wind-ludites-bag-mills were behind all this.

                        I feel somewhat honored to have attracted such a dedicated troll, anon of course! See also projection, and consensus bias..

          2. katrinab Silver badge
            Black Helicopters

            There is no separate tax rate at the moment. But the way things are being done allows them to do that in the future.

        3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
          Mushroom

          @katrinab, et al.

          Disclaimer: I have an electic car with a home charger installed in my garage as do some of my relatives (some with solar and batteries). I think I can speak with a little bit of authority here...

          First, you do not need a separate meter for your car charger. Some installers will wire the charger direct to your meter, others will wire it to your normal fuseboard. But in both cases, you're still using the same meter for your domestic supply and your EV charging. There is also a current sensor attached to the supply side of your meter to ensure your EV doesn't try and pull more than your main fuse is rated for.

          Second, your charger does not need to be "smart" to load balance the grid. You can get very dumb chargers. Or you can get smart ones which talk to the grid and your supplier and allow you to charge only when there is less load on the grid - and hence a cheaper rate. (Or even charge when there is only an excess of green energy) Regardless of the rate you're paying the electric company, the tax you pay for your electricity is the same. There are people who have the large house batteries (think Tesla Powerwall) and charge them at night and run their hose from the battery during the day. (I'm not getting into solar as that makes things even more complex)

          All home chargers (either 13A or 7kW) are slow. Using my 7kW charger I can only get 60% charge into my car during the off-peak tariff window. Sure, it's faster than a 13A socket, but many people do use 13A sockets. On some EV forums they encourage you to use the 13A charger option as it's less harsh on the battery than higher current charging.

          If you're feeling very flush, you can get a three-phase electric supply and then get a 22kW home charger. But this gets expensive very quickly...

          In summary: Beware of the FUD.

        4. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

          The real problem is people are slaves to driving for everything and anything. The real cost fo them is not the tax component its the fact they are wasting hours of their life driving everywhere.

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            > The real problem is people are slaves to driving for everything and anything.

            You should state your reference frame here. I suspect the United Stated Of America. If I insert my reference frame, which is southern Germany near Stuttgart, I could be without a car (you could insert most EU countries and most of Asia here BTW). With my current employer I could switch from the 13-minutes-car-drive to the office to the nearer-to-public-transport office, since train/tram stations are in the middle of the towns, shopping centers and industrial centers, in contrast to the US where some weird regulations pushed in by car lobbyists for over 100 years prevent actually useful public transport (zoning rules, for example). But I still have a car since it is convenient, but I am far less dependent on it compared to the US where you literally cannot live without a car.

      3. FIA Silver badge

        Sadly the facts suggest it may be more than just an amusing theory :(.

        You're conspiracy theorying wrong.

        You need the facts to backup the opposite view, then you can frame the facts as part of the conspiracy.

        You also have to know the 'true facts', which you'll probably get from some ranty bloke on Youtube who'll offer no actual evidence, but they will be oh so ranty.

        Aside: A friend of mine has gone down the 'we must all buy gold to crash the world markets' rabbit hole, he sent me a youtube video to 'explain it'.... it was a ranty guy who contradicted himself a lot, spliced in some random film clips to 'make his point', which he never actually elaborated on.... then it got to the end....

        'If you want to help this channel you can buy your gold from 555-BUY-UR-GOLD'

        I laughed and laughed and laughed.

        It's but a theory, but I cannot find any other explanation why we are hard pushed to go electric instead of low CO2 which would keep open research into more solutions.

        Because you're assuming a decision is made by a single person, with a reasoning and your level of knowledge. That's not how these kind of big decisions are arrived at... they're arrived at essentially by committee, with a lot of 'herd instinct' thrown in. They're not the solution one knowledgable person has come up with, they're the group solution arrived at by a lot of people (many of whom will be Dunning/Krugering it a bit..), also many of whom have similar but slightly different agendas. (i.e. they have to take on board the views and opinions of the people you disagree with too).

        This all has to be done whilst keeping voters on board, who often like to save the world, but not if it personally affects their life much.

        It's not some grand conspiracy theory, it's just human bumbling and innate tribalism.

        Oh, and remember Dunning/Kruger applies to me, and you, and anyone reading this too. Once ideas become 'global' then it's very hard to be an expert in all areas that relate to them.

        1. cdegroot

          Also, EVs are low hanging fruit for governments to show how good they are. Typically things you can change within your four years’ term. See also Solar and wind. Nuclear, non-fossile gasoline and diesel sources? These are solutions that the next terms would benefit from and we can’t have that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            They certainly changed Luton Airport car park within the current term.

    2. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Devil

      Nanofluid flow batteries

      > I'm fascinated by nanoflow liquid batteries. Especially for things like cars, they seem to be extremely well suited since they're not a fire risk, you can "recharge" them in about the same time as it takes to pump gas into a car today, and the energy density is already around that of Li-Ion and it's only like 50% of what it's capable of. You'd probably be able to quickly and easily convert existing gas stations for use with this new fuel which would make it a lot cheaper to roll out compared to setting up EV charging stations everywhere and running high voltage, high capacity, lines to them.

      Interesting technology. Using nanoparticles instead of solvents to reduce flammability. But I have my doubts..

      I'm not sure what actual cell chemistry this is, i'm assuming it's a Vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB).

      Vanadium oxide is pretty toxic, carcinogenic, deadly if inhaled, and a nanofluid is essentially an extremely fine powder.

      I'm not convinced that a crash involving a VRFB-powered car would be any safer than a crash involving a Lithium EV, especially when considering environmental impact. Also, assuming this stuff can be manufactured on the scale needed to replace a billion gallons of petrol a day, how would you feel about a supertanker full of Vanadium-oxide nanofluid, (or any other metallic nanofluid), sinking, compared to an oil spill or, or a ship full of lithium batteries such as the subject of this article? Personally, i'd be quite concerned about the release of metallic nanofluids into the oceans. It won't float to the surface like oil does, so would be hard to clean up. I guess it would eventually sink to the bottom though.

      VRFBs also require very high purity fuel, so the sustainability claims have to assume that we can engineer a solution that allows the reagent to be recycled with no risk of it becoming contaminated. If a small amount of "crud" were to get into your fuel nozzle, then it would severely bork both car and "petrol station". So no, I disagree that you'd be able to quickly and easily convert existing gas stations. If anything, compared to this, Hydrogen Fuel-Cell powered cars look more feasible.

      VRFBs show some promise for stationary storage, but I can't see them in EVs any time soon.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The future is leccy

    Warm, and leccy!

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "its crew handled the situation admirably"

    I'm glad they did, but I suspect they're ever happier than I am. After all, they were the ones in the middle of the sea with a bonfire risk under their feet. Had those batteries all gone off, we would be reading of another ocean tragedy during the holiday season.

    So good for them ! And good for whoever trained them.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: "its crew handled the situation admirably"

      One would also hope that the batteries were packed correctly and the crates spaced apart to stop the spread of fire. Its not like this hasn't happened before so hopefully the previous lessons learned were heeded. Which is likely why they got it under control.

      The biggest issue with lithium batteries is still the huge qty that is coming from China sold on the likes of ebay and aliexpress that are shipped in the normal post without any labelling.

      1. Tom66

        Re: "its crew handled the situation admirably"

        Unrelated to the ship fire, but e-cigarettes powered by 18650s that do come from genuine manufacturers are still a problem. These cells are not designed to be handled by consumers. The problem is that the wrapper of the cell can be damaged by removal and insertion into the charger and the 18650 design only puts a few mm between the positive and negative sides of the battery cell. If anything metal touches that exposed gap, the cell can quickly enter thermal runaway. This is all too commonly experienced by people who put spare 18650s in their pocket with keys and the like.

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: "its crew handled the situation admirably"

          Remember this video from LG?

          It overblows the hazard by claiming that it is dangerous to buy 18650s whether handled properly or not.. Also reminded me of the anti-piracy videos and the IT-crowd parody..

          Most e-cigarettes have USB charging ports though, don't they? I don't understand why people need to swap the batteries on a regular basis. Especially if they can get one with USB-C fast charging.

          Keeping them in your pocket with your keys.. you deserve to singe your chestnuts. You won't do it again after that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "its crew handled the situation admirably"

            Just smoke real cigarettes, your health is f*cked with either type.

  7. david1024

    The real story here...

    Very glad things didn't go worse, but going to be a lot of lightly-damaged li-ion batteries available on the market in the next few months after they scrap the damaged cargo from this event. And they'll cause the secondary fires the ship avoided.

    So, buy now folks of you don't want your own fire or don't already have a trusted vendor to buy from.

  8. RegGuy1 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Park?

    A small point perhaps, but ships don't park, they moor.

    1. Tron Silver badge

      Re: Park?

      You can park them.

      https://qph.cf2.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-69faf67b6279ab08c74049c4d6bb9e35-lq

      1. MiguelC Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Park?

        They can even be parked on top of buildings

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Park?

      Whatever floats your boat...

  9. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    The solution to reduce carbon is not EV, its reducing the dependency on transport of all kinds.

    EVs are not green just like any mining and manufacturing process on a mass scale.

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