Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai signs onto DTT!

t71ford

Over 1,000 Posts
Today was finally warm and dry enough to try for the maiden run of Project Kool-Aid, the Honda VTR. I was stoked, having worked on the bike most of the winter, so I checked and rechecked everything. Took it for a short run to my work, made few adjustments, and reveled in how light and perfectly everything was operating. Truly revolutionary changes from the previous season--light, fast, better running. Plus it looks "kool" now, too! So I decide to make a longer shakedown run, as the weather is just right, and I am really feeling it. About 4 miles out of town, at a modes 85 mph, the bike just cuts out and dies! I am really confused, since all had really been in order, and I coast to a church parking lot and stop by the building to see what is going on. At this point, there is no more electrical function at all. Smelling something, I get off to see this:

0313111331.jpg


That's right, my new $140 super duper Shorai battery is on burning, spewing fire and smoke at an alarming rate. Given the dual hilarity and alarming seriousness of the situation, I am now conflicted whether to let the damn thing burn, or stop it before the fire hits the gas tank, and burns down the church, too! I managed to get the negative cable off the battery.

Still no idea what happened. Amazingly all systems are normal with a lead battery in it, although the charging system is no longer among us. I suspect the charging system full fielded, and overcharged the battery, as the two incandescent headlight bulbs showed some damage as well. Fortunately, since it is a lithium battery, there was no acid spillage, and the fire was contained by my undertail design so there is only minor wiring damage. So I guess all is well. But, I will be only going back with a lead acid battery, and will not be installing another Shorai. I am not sure if it was a battery failure, or an incompatibility in application, but I know the lead acid battery never let me down! Vive another 8 lbs!


On a more positive note, member Ringo and I still managed a pretty sweet afternoon ride, he on the "Green Bastard", and me on the XS1100. Got some pretty good publicity on Bozeman Main Street, as well as crazy eyes from the Bozeman PD. Another bonus, I got to ride the Bastard, and learned of its truly sweet cornering abilities! Maybe Ringo won't be selling it after all... ;D
 

Rocan

"Long after I rest, my steel will live on"
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke

ouch!

its for this reason that i am mounting my tank with the ability to release it quickly without tools. that could have been bad.
 

Big R

Heaven is so far away.
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke

Bummer Tyler. As pointed out though, it could have been a lot worse. I've been checking Shorai's site, looks like they aren't re-stocking batteries. Think this may be why?
 

t71ford

Over 1,000 Posts
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke


Could be! I have been trying to figure out all afternoon how this could have happened, and I have come down to either a regulator issue, or a faulty battery. Not much I can do about it now, though. I know I am kind of gunshy about Shorai batteries, now, though!

A quick-tach tank is not a bad idea, but this is the stock mounting and seems to work well enough. Thanks to the open mounting of the battery, I was able to get it dragged out of the bike reasonably quickly, thereby narrowly averting disaster...

Got all the replacement parts on order, should have it on its feet again by next weekend!
 

Ringo

Over 1,000 Posts
DTT SUPPORTER
DTT BOTM WINNER
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

That still just blows my mind. Interesting that Shorai isn't stocking batteries, Rich.... Hmmmmmm...

I was thinking of this when I got home, Tyler, and I'm pretty sure this unfortunate meltdown saved my entire bike (the Gulf that is). Were it to happen in the glass seat cowl, which isn't quick-release, the seat would catch fire almost instantly. I've thrown a couple small scraps of glass cutoffs into my wood stove (out of drunken curiosity :eek: ) and I am amazed at how quickly epoxy resin catches fire (and how crazy intense it burns). After the seat went up, it would be all of a minute or two until the tank caught, and then game over. Scary stuff....and lead acid for me!



I did have a great time today man, just what the doctor ordered, after this winter. Definitely have to do it again...

And I'm stoked to get to run with the Kool-Aid next time. Pics don't do it justice, by the way. That thing is just plain awesome in real life.
 

t71ford

Over 1,000 Posts
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster


I am glad we were able to test the battery in a controlled labratory environment :D That is, without burning anything really expensive up!

I don't really want to give Shorai a bad rap, given that this may be an isolated incident. But, as it was scary enough, and there are other factors such as obscure availability, I think I will be going lead acid as well. At least until more is known about them.

Might be able to hit it next weekend, weather permitting. Today's successful ride was a real blast, especially giving Downtown Bozeman a taste of Rocker culture!
 

crazypj

Split personality, I fake being smart
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

What was the max charge it was supposedly capable of taking?
I thought the Honda was a permanent magnet alternator?
If so, it can't 'full field', that's only possible with an electromagnetic rotor
Either way, it probably didn't like the 80+ amps discharge when you hit starter button then the 20+ amps charge.
May well be seeing a few more exploding batteries when some more bikes get up and running
There several computer battery recalls because of fire hazard with certain lithium batteries, get in touch with manufacturor, it may be covered by something (even if you did misapply it)
 

crazypj

Split personality, I fake being smart
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

revheadgl said:
I believe the Shorai batteries use lithium ion cells. Lithium Ion batteries will not take a fast/high current charge. They arent as dangerous as lithium polymer, but are still not safe unless used with a dedicated charger.

http://green.autoblog.com/2010/05/20/researchers-identify-cause-of-li-ion-battery-fires-fast-chargin/

How they can sell these things for this sort of use without suppling an inline charger is absolutely irresponsible and potentially deadly.

I wonder how long the law suits start?

Interesting link
 

Ringo

Over 1,000 Posts
DTT SUPPORTER
DTT BOTM WINNER
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

Glenn, from what I've read about these batteries, they're lithium-iron (Li-Fe). I don't know how that compares to lithium-ion, but may be worth researching.

Some of the claims they were making included the fact that there was no real max-charging rate... could be quick charged...blah blah.


I just checked their site again. As Rich said, everything is out of stock. How...very...interesting.

I had such high hopes for this company, and felt that toasted battery today. It was incredibly light.
 

t71ford

Over 1,000 Posts
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster


I am going to try to contact Shorai today, and see what light they can shed on the subject. I will post up any findings!

Also, Chris is correct, in that the batteries are lithium iron phosphate, supposedly much less prone to explosion than standard lithium--although not impervious, it would seem...
 

Maritime

Over 10,000 Posts
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

yes, knowing what happened and why would be good. Maybe they will tell you you need a rectifier or something to cut the amps going into the battery or some kind of overload protection. And mayeb they will replace your battery!

Edit. They really should do something to help you out, they could loose thousands of potential customers from this site and others if they see this post. I won't buy one now unless you can figure out why it failed. And I was saving the dollars to get one too.
 

IndieSol

"This one goes to eleven." -Nigel Tufnel
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

Sorry to hear, man, but I'm glad it wasn't worse. Good luck dealing with the supplier.
 

t71ford

Over 1,000 Posts
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster


Thanks for the additional info. I am not entirely convinced that these batteries are an intrinsic evil, though. In the first lipo4 video above, the creators wired a dead short, and then filmed the resulting smoking wires...not really convincing, since any battery/ wiring will do the same thing if wired that way. I tend to think more along the lines that they are sensitive to charging rates, which may make fitting them to a motorcycle more involved than previously thought, though perhaps still not impossible. I am still researching these. Again, Li is not the same as Lipo4, the biggest difference seeming to actually be their relative safety...although the jury is still out on that as well! I just don't want to shy away from the whole thing yet if there is a simple, logical answer. Plus I kind of like fllying down the highway with fire shooting from my ass ;D

It is a reasonably new technology, which may account for the lack of representation at the manufacturer level.


On a lighter note, I was contacted by Shorai today. They want to know how much it will cost for the entire repair of my bike, my labor time included, and are going to reimburse me for that amount. The president of Shorai is supposed to be in contact with me by the end of the week, to help figure what went wrong. Evidently, in the event of a failure, these batteries are supposed to be protected to prevent this sort of thing happening. So if this all happens, I may just be part of the compensated R&D, and may come out the better yet! I am trying to be positive, and so far, my experience with Shorai has been positive. Stay tuned for the outcome!!
 

t71ford

Over 1,000 Posts
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

Rev,
I hope you don't think I was decrying your valid concerns. I just want to ascertain the exact cause of the failure before I write this technology off. I really do appreciate your concern, and am playing a little devil's advocate at the same time.

My issue with that video is not the abuse of the battery by the producer. It is that fact that any battery treated in that manner will produce the same result. The smoke in that video is produced by wire insulation since the wire (not the battery) is burning. It is just not revolutionary enough to base any conclusion upon. I want to be sure the actual cause of the concern in my situation. I am not ready to write them off...yet. As Ringo and the manager I spoke with today mentioned, they are not selling because they are out of stock because of supplier issues. I would hope that is the case.

Lipo4 batteries actually solve a number of problems inherent to lead acid batteries. They are actually more puncture safe, as they are dry cell, and do not leak corrosive acid when punctured. They do not create explosive hydrogen gas when charging. They are vibration resistant, as they are completely dry cell. There are no sulfation issue or self discharge issues. And they are incredibly light.

Charging may be the clincher, though. I am bound to find out.


Thanks again for voicing your concerns. You make valid points that we are all learning from, and hopefully this incident will reveal for the actual story on these batteries, for the benefit of all of us and our bikes!
 

t71ford

Over 1,000 Posts
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster


So I did a little more tearing down on this thing tonight. I pulled and gutted the rectifier/ regulator. I dug all of the bonding material out of it, and beyond the shadow of a doubt it was fried. The solder in it had actually run inside the bonding material. I suspect it was the failure of the R/R that caused the concern. Left unchecked, the charging system has the capability to charge significantly over the max limit of any battery, let alone the Shorai. I still unsure as to the failure of the R/R though. I had not had an issue until I tried to run it with this battery. I suppose it is possible that it is a huge, gross coincidence, also... I will have my new R/R soon, and will be testing further to that end. I had tested the charge rate earlier that day, and it was limiting at 14-14.5 volts, but no higher. So the failure would have occurred as I rode from that point. Possible?--I will try to find out.

Additionally, I have done quite a little research on the Lipo4 batteries, with positive results. It turns out that the Lipo4 batteries differ significantly from their lithium ion (lithium cobalt oxide to be exact) brethren. In short, the Lipo4 batteries havve a very strong bond between the oxygen atoms in the iron phosphate. This bond is stronger particularly than that of the cobalt oxide in lithium ion batteries. This actually helps to make explosion nearly impossible with the Lipo4 battery, something that is a serious safety issue with the Li ion batteries. For instance, in my case, if I had been using a Li ion battery, it would have exploded instead of making a lot of smoke and a little fire. The same for a hydrogen filled lead acid battery during overcharge. This information was borne out through several different sources, too.
In fact, in the hotly disputed video of the Lipo4 battery being short circuited above, this truth realized. Had the abused battery been Li ion, it would have had far more dramatic results than those shown.

So it appears more that the battery may have been less to blame and more to thank than originally thought. However, I am still unsure as to the reason for the R/R failure, and have passed no judgement yet. Thanks all for following along. I hope this works out positively for everyone!
 

crazypj

Split personality, I fake being smart
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

The reg probably failed as the battery failed.
The voltage is regulated but not the amperage.
As long as the engine is running, it's going to try and charge battery, even when it's fully charged. (plus, remember that batteries charge with amps, not volts)
The internal resistance is probably too low to register properly
Fitting an amp meter would probably be a good idea with any small battery set up, plus, some way to disconnect alternator
Maybe fit a CB350/360 alternator, not too much chance of overcharging then ;D
 

Ringo

Over 1,000 Posts
DTT SUPPORTER
DTT BOTM WINNER
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

Ah come on now, I know Tyler personally, and he's no idiot. He's a good deal brighter than I am, and I tend to think pretty highly of myself. ;D But kidding aside, he's just saving judgment until the exact cause is found. Thousands of people have used these batteries with no problems. To automatically jump to the conclusion that they're shit is a little premature. Lead acid will go tits up with overcharging too, and there are horror stories with every kind of battery. Let's just see what comes of this...
 

JRK5892

Over 1,000 Posts
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

ahh yikes! could have been much worse!!! glad the bike is not completely toast man!
 

t71ford

Over 1,000 Posts
Re: Oh YEAH to Oh NO...Project Kool-Aid, up in smoke: Shorai disaster

I am pretty happy, too!

It turns out that the regulator on this thing is a crude affair that does not use series regulation. It just shorts a leg of the stator to ground to reduce charging current. Naturally, this builds considerable heat, and, over time will cause the R/R to fail. No doubt the combination of new battery and old charging system, as well as the precise nature of the Lipo4 battery, all combined to cause this failure. However, knowing the specifics of the system, I am actually pretty confident that this was not caused directly by the battery alone, and in fact the battery helped to minimize the damage. But, I think charging system condition and operation will be imperative to future installations.

Bottom line, I think that these batteries are safe to use, given that they are installed in a properly serviced and tested charging system. Systems of marginal or questionable condition will cause issues. This information should be provided from Shorai upon ordering. As this develops, I will add information, too!
 

DTT Bike Of The Month Gallery

DTT Light or Dark

www.jadusmotorcycleparts.com
www.cognitomoto.com
https://www.townmoto.com
www.speedmotoco.com
www.lostapostle.ca/
www.sparckmoto.com
Top Bottom