“Lithium EV batteries pose a risk of fire for large cargo ships”

Older cargo ships are not suited to cope with chemical fires, according to a new report

Pathway to COP26 report

How could electric vehicle (EV) batteries risk causing fires on container ships?

In its Safety and Shipping Review 2022 report, insurer Allianz suggests lithium batteries are an “emerging risk” for both container ships and car carriers transporting increasing numbers of EVs.

The authors of the report suggest existing counter-measure systems in these ships may not respond effectively in the event of a blaze.

Allianz mentions two incidents that took place in the last few months – the first in March 2022, when a shipping container with lithium batteries waiting to be loaded onto a container ship bound for China caught fire.

The growing popularity of EVs over traditional combustion engines will mean that more vehicles with
lithium-ion batteries will be transported by sea.

The report suggests the issue raises questions about the design and the firefighting capabilities of vessels carrying EVs.

Régis Broudin, Global Head of Marine Claims at Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty, said: “Batteries are not only a potential cause of the fire, but they also aggravate the problem, as battery fires are very difficult to extinguish and have the potential to reignite, days or weeks later.”

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