Friday, 16 November 2018
Don’t Cut The Orange Cables
Our future is coloured orange. No, we are not thinking about the famous fizzy drink or the old mobile phone network, but high voltage vehicles.
A delegate arrived at a recent training course I was running on high voltage vehicles and told me as he arrived that he could sum up my course in one sentence “never cut the orange cables.”
That statement is correct, but thirty minutes into the training I asked him if that statement still summed up the training and he agreed that there is much more to these vehicles than even he had previously thought.
In short - handle a high voltage vehicle incorrectly and it WILL kill you!
100v DC is enough to give a fatal electric shock, and many of these vehicles have batteries producing between 200 and 400 volts DC with future vehicles bringing in 800v DC batteries and much greater voltages in later generations.
As I travel around the world I see many disturbing sights at vehicle recyclers, including high voltage batteries removed from vehicles with the high voltage safety plug still attached, or stored in such a manner that could create damage with subsequent fire risks. Both of the following images were recently taken in vehicle recyclers yards in the USA
The image here shows a battery, in store in a vehicle recycler, that is still connected. This means that the battery terminals are live, they could fatally electrocute any person that touches the terminals, or if a metal object (pen, spanner etc.) fell out of a staff member’s pocket and shorted the terminals, create a very serious fire.
Many may have seen videos on social media of lithium-ion batteries catching fire, and many of these can be attributed to they betters being physically damaged; safe storage of these batteries is of paramount importance, hence why I was very concerned when seeing these batteries stacked on eachother with no apparent concern for safety, minimisation of damage, or reduction of risk.
If you look closely at the picture you will see another battery (with the green case) on the floor inform of the pile. This battery was still live and was wedged between two pallets.
Examples like these indicate that there is still a very long way to go to make the vehicle recycling industry aware of the risks, to train their staff and put processes in place that protect their businesses from the risk of fatal electrocution or fire.