What are the fire risks when deploying battery electric vehicles (BEV) in the construction of tunnels? This is a question that a panel of specialists will address during The Expert Roundtable event: BEV Fire Safety in Tunnel Construction, to be held at the Hagerbach Test Gallery in Switzerland on 20 September 2023.
Although BEVs can bring benefits such as lower carbon emissions and lower whole life cost of ownership, they also come with concerns over higher risks of fire than their diesel counterparts. Currently their use underground is very limited. Norway is forging ahead due to its ambitious decarbonisation targets and a few mines are deploying them but elsewhere only a handful of vehicles are being used on construction projects on a pilot basis.
Meanwhile, fires due to cars, bikes, scooters, vans and other BEVs that run on lithium-ion batteries are becoming commonplace in cities around the world, causing challenges for fire fighters due to the difficulty in extinguishing them, with some manufacturers recommending a controlled burn. Another issue is that BEVs can re-ignite hours or days after they appear to have been extinguished.
In the first of two sessions at the Hagerbach event, led by Ross Dimmock, head of tunnelling of Normet, an expert panel will address what the potential fire safety risks for BEVs in underground construction are. Panellists will include Andy Levett, head of safety at SCS JV on HS2, Implenia’s global head of safety Felix Akeret and Keith Bowers, tunnel and systems director for COWI and Lower Thames Crossing.
The second session, led by Michael Kompatscher, general manager at the Hagerbach Gallery, will look at some of the latest advances in battery technology together with recent research and testing programmes and risk management approaches. Among the panellists for this session include Tony McDonald, head of engineering for battery manufacturer Xerotech, Mark Ryan, VP equipment and new tech and Michael Derungs of Schutz und Rettung Zurich-Firefighter.
“Contractors want to move to electrification, and they have a pressing requirement to do so due to decarbonisation goals, but they have concerns about fire which we want to address from all perspectives with this event,” says Aurora Puriqi, business development manager at Subspace Energy Hub. The Hub is a multi-partner project based at the Hagerbach Test Gallery which aims to accelerate the decarbonisation of underground construction through advancing battery technologies for underground tunnelling and mining equipment and investigating new energy storage technologies for renewable energy.
A final open discussion, with contributions from both the audience and the expert panellists, will aim to set out what actions would be most useful for the industry to help overcome fire safety fears. The outcome of this discussion will be used to guide the SubSpace Energy Hub’s future workstreams on this topic.
Register for the event here.