THERMAL RUNAWAY

WHAT IS THERMAL RUNAWAY AND HOW CAN WE PREVENT IT?

 

What is Thermal Runaway?

Thermal runaway is a phenomenon when the battery enters a self-fed cycle of heating and degradation. This results in a catastrophic release of energy—usually accompanied by gas venting, sparks, and fire. In recent years, there have been a few high-profile cases of this happening with popular consumer goods, airplanes, and even electric vehicles.

A thermal runaway event is caused by a failure in an individual cell that reacts and begins breaking down the internal battery structures. This causes a thermal chain-reaction, creating a self-propagating cycle of rapid heating and deterioration.

A few examples of causes for failure are:

  • Exposure to excessive temperatures

  • Short-circuiting

  • Surges in both charging and discharging current

  • Hotspots in large packs

  • Improper electrical connections
  • Poor fail-safe software
  • Mechanical destruction, penetration, or impact

Outlast LHS® materials are helping manufacturers develop next-generation electric and hybrid vehicles by implementing the active thermal regulation in a fire-retardant matrix to overcome some of the safety and performance limitations of lithium-ion battery packs. Carefully regulating the heat fluctuations in battery packs increases the lifespan of the battery and thermal runaway prevention.

LHS® battery matrixes are engineered to be integrated thermal regulators. The matrixes are custom-designed blocks that integrate into the fire-retardant battery housing unit.

 

How Can We Prevent Thermal Runaway?

Thermal runaway prevention is a hot topic and the unique material properties of the LHS® battery matrixes reduce the likelihood of a thermal runaway event by regulating the individual cell temperatures. However, if a cell were to enter thermal runaway, the battery matrix isolates the incident and prevents any cascading effect.

LHS® matrixes actively cool the battery cell mechanically by “melting” the latent heat organics to absorb heat. However, this cooling effect is limited by the heat saturation levels of the organics: meaning the responsiveness of the electrical system in cutting off the electrical flow is vital. While both systems can consistently and effectively prevent thermal runaway, combining the two systems allows for a dynamic and actively responsive cooling system. Read more about how our Battery Matrix can improve performance and safety, here.