Explosions cut risk of electric shock


High-voltage components can make collisions involving electric vehicles particularly dangerous, not just for the victims, but also for first responders.

Some suppliers and automakers are looking to make EVs less likely to cause injuries. And they’re using what might seem like an unlikely tool — tiny explosions. German supplier giant Bosch says microchips it developed to trigger airbag deployments can also help prevent electric shocks in EVs by deactivating power circuits in a fraction of a second.

When an impact is detected, the semiconductors trigger a pyrotechnic system that uses controlled mini-explosive charges to “blow out” whole sections of cables connected to the battery. These little explosions drive a wedge into the high-voltage cable between the battery unit and the power electronics, disconnecting the two.

This ensures that the battery, which can deliver 400 to 800 volts, is automatically disconnected in a collision and prevents the risk of electric shock or fire.

Tesla has demonstrated a similar system. A pyrotechnic battery-safety device inside the lithium ion battery will sever the electric connection between battery pack and motor, making the high-voltage battery safe for emergency contact.

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