Our Research Findings
The Electrochemical Safety Research Institute has conducted numerous experiments and research studies to contribute to the future of battery safety and energy storage systems. Read more about our recently completed projects below.
Fire suppression studies on EV modules with Automotive Research Association of India
When exposed to off-nominal conditions, lithium-ion cells can go into thermal runaway, leading to smoke, fire, and high temperatures, that can propagate to other cells in a battery module or pack. Efficient fire protection and suppression methods are thus critical to minimize the hazards associated with Li-ion battery failure events.
A research project was carried out in collaboration with the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) to understand the efficacy of three different suppressants on fires in lithium-ion battery modules manufactured by a leading automotive manufacturer. Wastewater from the suppression tests was analyzed to understand its toxicity. The study indicated that the efficacy of a fire suppressant depends not only on the nature of the suppressant but also on the timing and duration of its release. Moreover, its presence at a sufficient concentration in the vicinity of the heat source in the battery was found critical.
The results from these studies are currently being extended to a research project with larger-scale residential energy storage batteries carried out in collaboration with Stress Engineering Services in Houston, Texas.
To learn more about this research, reach out to the ESRI team at NFP.ElectrochemicalSafety@ul.org.
State-of-charge vs. safety with stress engineering services
The International Cargo Aviation Organization (ICAO) has restrictions on transporting lithium-ion cells or batteries by limiting the state-of-charge (SOC) to not exceed 30%. However, several factors influence the safety of lithium-ion cells. Hence, one cannot conclude that all cell designs have benign outcomes at and below the same SOC under off-nominal conditions. Even at the same SOC, cells with different formats, manufacturers, and chemistry types may exhibit variable safety behavior. It is critical to study and understand the safety aspects and worst-case scenarios resulting from cell failures in order to establish proper storage, shipping, and handling guidelines.
Safety of fresh and aged Li-ion cells and modules with Purdue University
Cycle aging refers to all the degradation processes associated with the charge and discharge processes in lithium-ion batteries. Every time a lithium-ion cell is cycled, its capacity reduces mostly in an imperceptible way. The aim of this work is to investigate the interplay between aging, operating voltage window, and abuse tests (overcharge and external short) in lithium-ion cells and their safety implications. This research focuses solely on the effects of aging in cylindrical commercial lithium-ion cells that underwent charge/discharge cycling under nominal conditions. The objective is to characterize the changes occurring to the cell’s electrochemical properties, its morphology and the safety implications. Read more in the series on degradation-safety analytics in lithium-ion cells:
- Part I: Aging under Charge/Discharge Cycling
- Part II: Aging and Safety of Cylindrical Cells
- Part III: Aging and Safety of Pouch Format Cells
Overcharge, overdischarge, and aging analytics of Li-ion cells with Purdue University
Another independent study was carried out to understand the failure modes related the overcharging of li-ion cells to various levels with continuous cycle life. Read more in the series on overcharge, overdischarge, and aging analytics of Li-ion cells:
- Part I: Overcharge and Aging Analytics of Li-Ion Cells
- Part II: Overdischarge and Aging Analytics of Li-Ion Cells
Counterfeit cells and batteries with NASA Johnson Space Center
Cells from three different manufacturers were studied. Overcharge and external short tests and analysis of the cell components were performed to study counterfeit cells and compare them to cells from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
- Determining the Authenticity of Cells & Batteries in the Global Market article in Emerging Technology News
- Counterfeit Lithium-Ion Cells and Batteries interactive white paper
- Fake Batteries Put Your Health and Safety at Risk video
- What Keeps Lithium-Ion Batteries Safe? infographic
- Only Purchase Certified Batteries from Trusted Sources expert report