A dry bang and then it starts: a battery module of an electric car is set ablaze in the Hagerbach test gallery. A video of the test shows impressively the energy contained in such batteries: meter-long flames hiss through the room and produce enormous quantities of thick, black soot. Visibility quickly approaches zero. After a few minutes, the battery module burns out. Ash and soot have spread throughout the room.
The experiment, financed by the Swiss Federal Roads Office (Astra), took place in December 2019. The evaluation is now available. "In our experiment, we were thinking primarily of private and public operators of small and large underground or multi-storey car parks," says project manager Lars Derek Mellert from the company Amstein + Walthert Progress AG. "All these underground structures are increasingly being used by electric cars. And everyone asks themselves: What happens if such a car catches fire? What are the health risks for people in the vicinity? And also: What effects does such a fire have on the operation of the plant?"