Cleantech & EV'sNews

There’s a new trend making electric bike batteries safer

A new type of electric bicycle battery is gaining traction in the industry, potentially ushering in unprecedented levels of safety and security for riders. Get ready, because we’re quickly approaching the age of the potted e-bike battery.

There’s no doubt that fire safety is an important subject when it comes to e-bike batteries. Despite the actual number of battery fires being incredibly low compared to tens of millions of e-bikes on the road, the lethal effects of just a single fire drive home the importance of the issue.

Now, a new type of manufacturing process is growing in popularity, claiming to significantly increase the safety of e-bike batteries by reducing the risk of fires, even when the battery is abused or damaged.

Potting, which uses a hardening resin poured between cells to isolate them from each other and the environment, can mitigate the two biggest factors resulting in fires: corrosion and physical damage.

As we learned from battery expert Luke Workman on the Wheel-E Podcast, salt water spray and vapor penetrating the seals in an e-bike battery case can slowly corrode battery cells, eventually leading to a short circuit. Even when properly sealed, physical damage to a battery, such as from a major drop or a crash, can also rupture cells or potentially lead to short circuits, which can, on rare occasions, result in fires.

We recently learned from Pedego, a major national e-bike brand, that it was adopting new potted e-bike batteries that use heat-absorbing resin between cells. Potting the batteries and enclosing the cells in a thermally conductive material helps Pedego protect the battery from impact and puncture damage, and also helps dissipate heat more effectively.

This heat management is vital, as excessive heat can lead to thermal runaway, a condition where increasing temperature causes further heat release, escalating into potentially hazardous situations.

Another advantage is that potted batteries can significantly extend the lifespan of e-bike batteries by reducing the wear and tear associated with vibration and repeated impact—common issues for bicycles used on a variety of terrains. Components such as electrical connectors and nickel conductor strips can sometimes vibrate loose in e-bike batteries, often requiring access to the battery’s internals to diagnose and fix the problem.

Potting resin can be applied over cells similarly to this artistic representation (though the cells would be welded together first)

The solidified potting material stabilizes the battery cells, minimizes movement within the casing, and offers a buffer against the jolts and bumps of everyday riding. This stabilization not only maintains the integrity of the battery but also ensures consistent performance and reliability, which are crucial for users who rely on e-bikes for regular commuting or recreational activities.

Pedego’s adoption of potted e-bike batteries follows quickly behind Rad Power Bikes’ announcement that it was introducing its own potted battery design. Neither are the first movers in this respect, with companies like Luna Cycle and Grin Technologies beating them by many years.

But the major difference this time is that both companies with recent announcements are major national brands, not smaller e-bike companies with less industry influence.

rad power bikes safe shield battery e-bike batteries

While the original companies deserve credit as first movers, in many cases, it is the first followers who result in the biggest shifts.

Just like with these new potted batteries, the first followers demonstrate that it is no longer a coincidence, this new trend is a pattern.

And with major national brands adopting the safety benefits of potted batteries, it will come as no surprise when other companies begin following this lead.

Author: Micah Toll
Source: Electrek

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