Safety Guidelines Released for Maritime Transportation of Electric Vehicles, Ensuring Fire Prevention and Mitigation
ClassNK, in collaboration with the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI), has recently issued a set of guidelines aimed at enhancing the safety of maritime transportation for electric vehicles (EVs). These guidelines provide valuable insights into the prevention and mitigation of fires in EVs during maritime journeys.
The Guidelines for the Safe Transport of Electric Vehicles and List of Fire Safety Measures for the Maritime Transportation of Electric Vehicles, published by ClassNK, shed light on the characteristics of EV fires and offer guidance on how to effectively respond to such incidents. These guidelines were developed through extensive discussions with industry experts, operators, manufacturers, and other stakeholders, as well as a comprehensive literature review.
Moreover, the guidelines outline specific requirements for class notations for vessels equipped with additional firefighting measures designed for the transportation of EVs. This ensures that vessels are properly equipped to handle any potential fire-related situations.
Additionally, the List of Fire Safety Measures for the Maritime Transportation of Electric Vehicles highlights around 40 measures aimed at early detection, suppression, prevention of fire spread, and extinguishing. This comprehensive list includes valuable information on the development of new fire safety measures and related technologies, covering their effectiveness, benefits, as well as potential issues that need to be considered.
On another front, the IUMI has released its own set of recommendations and best practices for the safe carriage of electric vehicles. Supported by scientific research, these guidelines demonstrate that fires in EVs are not inherently more dangerous or more frequent than fires in conventional vehicles. In fact, current statistics suggest that EVs have fewer fire incidents compared to their conventional counterparts when driven over the same distance.
According to the IUMI statement, research indicates that the total energy released during an EV fire is only marginally different from that of an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) fire. It is worth noting that once established, vehicle fires are primarily fueled by the car body and interior parts rather than the propulsion system itself. However, EVs present an additional risk of thermal runaway, an unstable chemical reaction in the battery that can make fires challenging to extinguish. Therefore, rapid implementation of mitigation measures such as boundary cooling is crucial, and the risk of re-ignition remains higher for an extended period.
The IUMI paper also makes important distinctions between different types of vessels. Ro-ro vessels, for example, often stow cars on open decks, which can complicate firefighting efforts due to increased air flow. Additionally, ro-pax vessels face challenges such as passengers wanting to charge their EVs onboard and the potential inclusion of older and potentially less safe vehicles. Pure car and truck carriers (PCTCs), on the other hand, face issues related to tight packing of vehicles, which can accelerate the spread of fires.
Early detection and verification of fires are crucial for minimizing response times. The paper recommends the use of conventional fire detection systems, complemented by options such as thermal imaging cameras and AI-powered systems. Drencher systems and video monitoring should be installed on ro-ro and ro-pax vessels, as they have proven effective for firefighting purposes. Carbon dioxide extinguishing systems are successful in combating PCTC fires and should be equipped with doubled capacity, while high-expansion foam fire extinguishing systems have proven effective in preventing heat transfer between vehicles.
Lars Lange, Secretary General of the IUMI, expressed the importance of adapting safety requirements to accommodate the growing number of alternative fuel vehicles carried on board vessels. He emphasized that the IUMI will continue to contribute to the ongoing debate on improving safety measures.
In conclusion, the newly released safety guidelines and recommendations from ClassNK and the IUMI provide valuable guidance and measures to enhance the safety of maritime transportation of electric vehicles. By implementing these guidelines and adopting the recommended safety measures, the maritime industry can ensure the safe transport of EVs and effectively prevent and mitigate fire-related incidents.