Joint webinar with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Standards New Zealand sparks conversation on electric vehicle charging systems
The standards for electric vehicle charging systems webinar illustrated some of the challenges of electric vehicles and the role being played, and yet to be played, by standards.
The standards for electric vehicle charging systems webinar, co-hosted by Standards New Zealand and Singapore-based Underwriters Laboratories (UL), illustrated some of the challenges of electric vehicles and the role being played, and yet to be played, by standards.
The webinar was held in response to the rising demand for electric vehicle adoption, which has been driven by countries around the world as they attempt to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation, a key goal of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, Scotland.
The global audience from over 20 countries and around 200 organisations, representing regulatory bodies, fire safety, electric vehicle industry companies and institutes of higher learning, reflected the universal and growing interest in standardisation in this evolving topic.
In 2020, Underwriters Laboratories and Standards New Zealand signed a collaboration and licensing agreement with the goal of advancing safety through standardisation internationally.
US-based Joe Bablo, UL’s energy storage and e-mobility principal engineering manager, presented on the increasing use of electric vehicle (EV) technology and associated safety concerns. Joe introduced us to current and emerging trends including the range of charging equipment and storage and innovations for different vehicles and in different countries, the rise in demand for EVs and impacts on infrastructure and energy use and the key need for safety and how things can go wrong.
Growing requirements for fire protection and building design
We saw questions raised from attendees regarding fire protection and building construction, with those in the industry looking to understand the growing risks around lithium storage-related fires, flame propagation and human safety.
While there are currently international standards available to support EV use, the technology is advancing and changing and the challenges and opportunities will continue to evolve over the coming years. Already the US state of California is leading change with EV-ready building codes, requiring provision for EV charging in new builds to increase the number of charging stations and bring down charger installation costs.
Need for standardisation
With the need for expanding regional and national charging-facility infrastructure, never has the role of standardisation been more necessary. A range of different charging systems needs to allow for innovation while remaining accessible to different vehicle users and ensuring safety and efficiency.
Information on demand
If you missed the event you can still enjoy the learnings via the recording, which includes questions and answers at the end. Due to time constraints further questions posed by the audience have been answered below.
We thank presenter Joe Bablo for kindly sharing his presentation.
Hungry for more on electric vehicles?
Are you considering integrating this technology in your home or business? Before you embark upon this new technology be sure to inform yourself on specifications you need to know, via Standards New Zealand’s two publicly available specifications, sponsored by Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA) Te Tari Tiaki Pūngao:
- SNZ PAS 6010:2021 Electric vehicle (EV) chargers for commercial applications
- SNZ PAS 6011:2021 Electric vehicle (EV) chargers for residential use.
UL also provide a number of related international standards. The webinar covered various EV-related standards, including UL 2202, the Standard for Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging System Equipment and UL 2594, the Standard for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment.
If you are keen to expand your knowledge on sustainable future transport – sure to be an ongoing topic of international importance – along with other key topics, you can learn more through UL’s schedule of upcoming webinars:
Webinar questions and answers
Attendees asked a range of questions during the webinar, which we have shared with you, along with Joe’s responses, below.
How does that fit with the Californian requirement for new construction?
The concept of new construction in California being EV ready is based on the construction being designed and fitted with the proper branch circuits to install EV charging equipment if/when it is needed. It does not address the concerns associated with the increased use of EVs or parking structures, and the like.
In the future, do we see a merging of standard charging types to allow for interoperability?
This concept has been discussed for the last decade without much progress. At this point there are two potential solutions that are in the works.
The first is a quick-fix solution that allows for the use of adapters that will convert between charging systems, so that any vehicle can charge at any piece of infrastructure with the use of an adapter. For example, a CHAdeMO charger will plug into an adapter and the adapter will convert it CCS1.
These adapters are not merely configuration adapters as a translation between the CHAdeMO and CCS1 protocols would be needed in order for the vehicle to talk to the charger. So the adapters are more sophisticated then what would normally be considered an adapter.
This is under development in various standards groups at the moment. The second potential solution is related to the harmonisation effort between China and Japan and dubbed the ChaoJi connector. This is a ‘one connector for all Asia’ concept and is the next generation of CHAdeMO and GBT.
The idea could be extended to include all systems moving forward and perhaps at some point in the future all chargers are fitted with a ChaoJi connection system. However, these solutions are only in development now and will take time to have any significant impact.
Is there a requirement/code for local fire suppression to the EV battery to mitigate the fire situation from the EV?
I am not a fire suppression expert, but I do not know of any fire suppression system that is located on the vehicle.
For buildings or car parks where EVs may be located, I am not certain that codes have all been updated with a sure-fire specific method of addressing this issue. I believe if this was in place, the discussion around safety or multiple EVs in parking lots would not be as big of a discussion point.
I do know that fire suppression systems built into energy storage systems are being used. How this could be translated to open areas such as car parks, or how these could be implemented in vehicles, has yet to be determined.
Is there any requirement of the installation that takes care of the safety of firefighters? For example, the emergency switch is to disconnect the upstream when activated.
The concept of emergency disconnects, whether for charging systems or on the vehicle, is already in place and required in most instances. The National Electrical Code in the US will require disconnect devices and most chargers are provided with emergency disconnects. Electric vehicles themselves have disconnects that can disconnect the battery from the vehicle electrical system thereby isolating the battery after collision and things of that nature.
Back to the Mode 1 question. How about low-powered charging, e.g. below 3 kW or x kW? It would be similar to household devices, similar risk to a computer, or a hair dryer, etc, essentially the charger itself is in the vehicle which should have their own systems checks for issues?
For the chargers in the US, we cannot use Mode 1. The National Electrical Code requires system of protection to be provided and that system pf protection is monitoring the vehicle during power transfer.
Mode 1 excludes this protection system and therefore is not allowed. However, the main issue here is that the vehicle and the charger are not one product such as hair dryers, etc. We have any vehicle showing up and the condition of the vehicle, its ability to detect issues, etc, is unknown.
So, the protection system is utilised to monitor the vehicle and prevent hazards that the vehicle may not be capable of mitigating. What we are monitoring is voltage or current being available to the user on accessible conductive surfaces of the vehicle. This is not something that can always be monitored or protected in Mode 1.
Is the same focus applied to existing internal combustion engine vehicles in parking buildings? They have a habit of going on fire, there is no real control on the vehicle condition, and it is accepted that it gets addressed on a case by case basis by the fire department. Listening to the session I hear a theme that the vehicles are going on fire all the time.
Combating an internal combustion engine vehicle fire is a known entity and firefighters can deal with that without too much in the area of unknowns.
In the case of a lithium battery fire, how the fire is fought is different. The toxic gases that are emitted are different. The fact that the battery can reignite after it was thought to be extinguished exists.
Lastly, flame propagation is a bigger issue, since one battery is enough of a risk but multiple batteries starting on fire due to propagation in an underground parking garage in the middle of the night could be a significant fire risk when compared to IEC vehicles.