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    EV fires: Ex-Tesla man’s startup makes testing devices, algorithms to check battery mishaps

    EV fires: Ex-Tesla man’s startup makes testing devices, algorithms to check battery mishaps

    EV fires: Ex-Tesla man’s startup makes testing devices, algorithms to check battery mishaps
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Updated)

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    MakerMax’s Device M201 captures the five vital internal characteristics of batteries within minutes at various touch points such as factory, warehouse, dealer end and servicing, and builds the benchmark data which can be used to predict abnormal behaviour, deterioration, and safety index of a battery.

    Amid concerns over the safety of electric vehicles (EVs), MakerMax, a startup led by an ex-Tesla engineer from India, announced that it has developed testing devices and algorithms that can arrest battery fires, thereby preventing loss of property and lives, Mint reported.

    A spate of incidents recently put the spotlight on safety of EVs and the thermal efficiency of lithium-ion batteries that power them.

    In the past five days, four incidents of two-wheeler electric vehicles catching fire have been reported. In the latest incident, an electric scooter from Pure EV caught fire on the outskirts of Chennai.

    Prior to that, an Ola S1 Pro scooter caught fire in Pune, while another incident was reported on March 28 from Trichy in Tamil Nadu. The most tragic incident occurred in Vellore this week when a Praise Pro model of Okinawa electric scooter caught fire, resulting in the death of a man and his 13-year-old daughter.

    The government has ordered a probe into the Pune fire incident. Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said the incidents may have taken place due to higher temperatures.

    According to British Columbia-based MakerMax, its Device M201 captures the five vital internal characteristics of batteries within minutes at various touch points such as factory, warehouse, dealer end, servicing and builds the benchmark data, which can be used to predict abnormal behaviour, deterioration, and safety index of a battery. The benchmark is compared with its vital characteristics through the algorithms developed by the company.

    Additionally, MakerMax also designs pressure, temperature, and gas sensors, which can be placed at vulnerable zones in the battery to trigger an alarm at three different levels. MakerMax is collaborating with manufacturers to place these sensors in the battery.

    “We need to tackle this urgent and critical issue comprehensively, starting with the batteries that are already in use in thousands of E-scooters while we are designing safer batteries for the future,” Akshay Gill, Founder-Director of the startup and ex-Tesla R&D engineer, told Mint. 

    According to Gill, the batteries on electric two-wheelers in India lack enough mechanical safety features.

    “One suggestion to help contain the fire and minimise the damage could be dividing the battery into three or more mutually sealed compartments with pressure release valves rather than one thick metal box that has no outlet for expanding gases and is a potential bomb,” he said.

    It is also important to raise awareness among customers about ways to keep the batteries safe while charging and identifying signs of a potentially unsafe battery, he said.

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