Thermal Runaway Prevention in Lithium-Ion Batteries

Technological advancement has its own merits as well as some significant risks associated with it too. When it comes to batteries, one such risky area is thermal runaway li-ion. Batteries operate in a narrow temperature range, therefore, for the stability of outcome and safety purposes, temperature maintenance is of critical importance. 

Variations in temperature whether high or low can trigger the drawbacks of lithium-ion batteries. By understanding the importance of this issue, emphasis should be placed on techniques for thermal runaway prevention in lithium-ion batteries.

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Thermal runaway lithium-ion battery

So, to ask your question of what a thermal runaway is; in simpler terms, we can say that it’s a chain reaction within battery cells. The thing about chain reactions is that once these get started, the reaction multiplies which makes it highly uncontrollable in any given scenario. 

With thermal runaway propagation li-ion, the chain reaction is triggered primarily due to temperature variances. Temperature variance beyond the normal degree results in a chemical reaction in battery cells and produces heat which kicks off the temperature gauge even more. 

Ultimately, the heat level can rise to 400 degrees Celsius due to this thermal runaway reaction. Extremely high temperatures can end up badly, it’s a fair guess anyway. Fire can be a potential result of that temperature as there’re flammable materials present so batteries must be properly taken care of.

Dangers associated with a thermal runaway lithium-ion battery

It’s not just lithium-ion batteries that are subject to a thermal runaway reaction, it’s any battery whether traditional or of new technology. Lithium-ion batteries have got some bad media attention in this regard but one has to see things from a bigger perspective as the reality is often very different.

In the worst-case scenario, excessively high temperature builds up inside a battery can result in fire or even explosions. Prevention techniques for safe usage and prevention from lithium battery thermal runaway reactions must be promoted thereon.

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Main causes that lead to thermal runaway

We have narrowed down the potential main causes of lithium battery thermal runaway. One of these causes can be a short circuit due to improper maintenance of the battery in the form of deteriorating battery health. It can be both an internal short circuit as well an external one resulting in the chain reaction starting. 

The battery’s health depends on the user’s practice of operating it. Such as casual treatment by the user when charging the battery can have potential side effects in the long run. Overcharging or charging at a voltage beyond the recommended threshold can damage the battery permanently.

Charging of battery rapidly can also be a factor that leads to a thermal runaway reaction due to excessive current flow.

The extreme temperature at both ends, whether cold or hot, can contribute to a thermal runaway reaction.

How to apply techniques for thermal runaway prevention?

The risk of a thermal runaway lithium-ion battery can be minimized to an acceptable level by applying the recommended best practices. Thermal runaway prevention:

Maintain temperature

Since we have learned that high temperature is one of the main reasons for lithium battery thermal runaway. So why not try to keep batteries at an optimum storage temperature? The ideal storage temperature will be 40–70 degrees Fahrenheit (4-21 degrees Celsius) with a little variation depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Ventilation

As simple as it may sound, proper ventilation of the storage compartment can go a long way in maintaining a safe space with low heat generation. Try not to put batteries in closed trap spaces. These small methods effectively prevent thermal runaway.

The more spacious and normal air flow it has, the better ventilation can be provided for the heat produced by the batteries too.

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Timely replacement of batteries

Batteries have a specific life span after which they need replacement. By replacing batteries in time, you can stop the deteriorating process of chemicals in time without exposing yourself to the thermal runaway lithium-ion battery.

While replacing, you need to ensure proper disposal of old batteries or it can be a potential fire hazard. 

Charging Time

One last thing to consider is charging time. Try not to overcharge your battery. It can be a possible reason for reactions within batteries depending on the state of the battery. Optimum charging time saves the anode, electrode, and electrolytes in the battery.

These technics can help you with thermal runaway prevention.

Heat production in lithium-ion cells

Lithium-ion cells and electrons are responsible for producing electricity in lithium-ion batteries through their movement. With movement, comes some degree of heat which is acceptable as it can be dissipated from the cells. 

However, in unusual circumstances such as lithium battery thermal runaway, heat generated is at an abnormally high rate and cannot be dissipated from the cells. The rate of heat production is much higher than that of heat dissipation.

Battery management systems

Lithium-ion batteries usually come with a built-in battery management system (BMS) set to act as a control center. The battery management system is critical to minimize the risk associated with a thermal runaway in a lithium-ion battery. 

It may not be a 100 % surety against thermal runaway however it surely can minimize the risk. It helps get optimum results from your battery pack in the form of safe and efficient performance. 

You can check out Tritek to explore various lev battery solutions which are well-experienced in service around the globe.

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What does the battery management system control?

With a battery management system, the labor of monitoring the temperature, voltage, charge control, balancing, and short-circuiting can be bypassed. It’s sort of doing your job of ensuring that the battery is running without any major issues. If an issue arises, it can swiftly detect the problem and act accordingly. 

For instance, if the battery is heating up, the battery management system can detect it and turn on the cooling fans to cater to the situation. In the worst-case scenario, BMS can even shut down battery cells to save the entire system from collapsing.

Final thoughts

We think you have got a fairly good understanding of what to expect from a thermal runaway mechanism and how to minimize the danger by taking precautions. Yes, it is a serious consideration for battery users concerning potential disastrous effects. Thermal runaway prevention in a lithium-ion battery is more than possible.

Plus, you want your battery for efficient energy storage, with each cell performing at its best power capacity. If you follow standard guidelines, your battery cells will be safe with each charge and discharge. Failure to do that may result in battery damage.

The trick is to cater to the risks and maximize the benefit of these batteries. We strongly recommend Tritek for providing you with the battery solutions you need.

Be safe.

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