Business

‘Cutting off power in an accident is key in EVs’

Germany’s Bosch has introduced innovative devices that can prevent electric shock when EVs are involved in accidents.

Germany’s Bosch has introduced innovative devices that can prevent electric shock when EVs are involved in accidents.   | Photo Credit: AP

Bosch’s devices prevent car occupants, rescuers from suffering electric shock

With a rising number of electric vehicles (EVs) expected to hit the road in the coming years, drivers are increasingly becoming uncertain about safety measures, especially as to what they should do in the event of a collision.

Damaged cables as the result of an accident are a cause for concern, as is the power from the battery that could leak into the metal bodywork of a hybrid or all-electric car. Germany’s Bosch has introduced innovative devices that can prevent electric shock when EVs are involved in accidents.

It has designed semiconductors that help prevent the risk of electric shock after an accident. These specially designed microchips deactivate the vehicle’s power circuits in a fraction of a second, to ensure the personal safety of vehicle occupants and the rescue crew.

Jens Fabrowsky, member of the executive management, Bosch’s Automotive Electronics Division, said, “Our semiconductor technology plays a vital role in the safety of hybrid and electric vehicles. Bosch supplies vehicle manufacturers with semiconductor chips for [use] in special systems that safely disconnect the battery in the event of a collision.”

These devices are part of a pyrotechnical safety switch system, or pyrofuse. They “blow out” whole sections of the cable connection to the high-voltage battery by means of miniature explosive charges, thus quickly and effectively shutting off the power circulation.

Tiny, powerful devices

For example, if the airbag sensor detects an impact, the tiny devices — measuring no more than 10 mm by 10 mmand weighing a few grams — trigger the pyrofuse.

This sets off little explosions that drive a wedge into the high-voltage cable between the battery unit and the power electronics, disconnecting the two. By thus cutting off the flow of power, the risk of electric shock or fire is fully eliminated.

Lithium-ion batteries, the power source for all-electric vehicles, are flammable, said Malcolm McConnell, a lead attorney at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen, a personal injury law firm based in the U.S.

“They contain a liquid electrolyte that stores energy and can overheat and combust with prolonged exposure to the wrong conditions. These power cells are also subject to short-circuiting if they are damaged, and those short-circuits can result in fires if the proper safety precautions are not in place,” he said.

However, most EVs are structurally safer than conventional cars. Because, they have fewer components needed to run the car, meaning less wear and tear and less space used within the infrastructure of the vehicle.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 10:11:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/cutting-off-power-in-an-accident-is-key-in-evs/article29577645.ece

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