Calling for Life Cycle Analysis of EVs: Part 2
a report on nature and technology
by Katie Singer
I can't resist starting this article with a quiz:
1. How much water does it take to put out a (gas-powered) internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) fire?
About 300 gallons (1136 liters).
2. How much water does one U.S. fire truck hold?
About 500 gallons (1893 liters).
3. How much water does it take to extinguish an electric vehicle fire?
Between 20,000 and 30,000 gallons (75,708 and 105,992 liters). (Each month, the fire department in Woodland Township, Texas [population 114,000] uses about 28,000 gallons.)
Just like a trick birthday candle, an EV battery pack can reignite several times. To ensure
that it's completely extinguished, Tesla's Model S Emergency Response Guide advises monitoring "high voltage battery temperature for at least 24 hours" after the vehicle catches fire. 
After several General Motors' Bolts caught fire early this summer, GM told EV owners to park their vehicles outdoors immediately after charging and not to charge them overnight. 
When they burn, EV batteries emit more than 100 toxic substances, including hydrogen fluoride, hydrochloric acid, carbon dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, sulfur dioxide, soot particles that include high concentrations of zinc, lead, chlorine and heavy metal including cobalt oxide, nickel oxide and manganese oxide. An EV fire produces up to 60% more hydrogen fluoride than an ICEV fire. 
Unless they're properly masked, passengers, firefighters and others can inhale these toxins or absorb them through their skin. 
Washing firefighters' clothing also consumes water. Like the water used to extinguish the fire, water used to launder exposed clothes can contaminate nearby soil and waterways.
Routinely, I hear commentators push for electric trucks and schoolbuses (vehicles that require battery packs larger than a Tesla). How much water will it take to extinguish those vehicles if they catch fire?
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