Regulate e-bike batteries like fireworks says charity

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Electrical Safety First, a UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electricity, is calling for e-bike and e-scooter batteries to be regulated like fireworks and heavy machinery to better ensure their safety.

Currently, manufacturers can self-declare that e-bike and e-scooter batteries meet safety standards.

But campaigners say the batteries should require third-party approval before being placed on the UK market – a requirement already introduced in New York City following a spate of fatal fires. 

It comes after the charity estimates that one fully charged e-bike battery can release as much stored energy as the amount of TNT (an explosive) contained in six hand grenades. 

When thermal runaway occurs this large amount of energy is released over a longer period of time, mimicking an out-of-control explosive firework. Some of the reasons for this are flawed design, low-quality components, or improper charging or discharging. 

This is just one of several recommendations put forward by the charity in a new report called ‘Battery Breakdown – why are e-scooter and e-bike batteries exploding in people’s homes and what can be done about it?’

“One of the reasons we’ve published this report is we want to raise awareness of this issue,” Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, Lesley Rudd, told Zag Daily in an interview. 

“A lot of people are not aware of how dangerous these batteries can be. When they go off, there’s very little way of stopping them.

The charity is calling for UK regulation to follow in the footsteps of New York City.

“It really is important that we do this now because, as we saw in New York, it takes time for these things to take effect. Therefore, we’re calling on the government for urgent action. This is an opportunity to save lives.” 

Other recommendations include a ban of so-called universal chargers, the collection of more detailed data and changes in user behaviour. 

The report also assesses the landscape of e-bike and e-scooter fires. It has surfaced amid worldwide apprehension regarding fires triggered by lithium-ion batteries. On average, the London Fire Brigade is summoned to attend an e-bike or e-scooter fire every two days.

Rudd added: “There are manufacturers producing good products, and they will be doing as much as they can to ensure the safety of the products… This type of legislation, and the whole range of recommendations in our report will protect good businesses, weed out the bad operators, and ultimately, it’ll save lives.”

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