August 2021
Volume 73    Issue 8

Thermal-runaway pressures of iron phosphate lithium-ion cells as a function of free space within sealed enclosures

Dubaniewicz, Thomas H.; Zlochower, Isaac; Barone, Teresa; Thomas, Richard; Yuan, Liming


Mining vehicle manufacturers are developing lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery electric vehicles as an alternative to diesel-powered vehicles. In gassy underground mines, explosion-proof enclosures are commonly used to enclose electrical ignition sources to prevent propagation of an internal methane (CH4)-air explosion to a surrounding explosive atmosphere. Li-ion batteries can create pressurized explosions within sealed enclosures due to thermal runaway. Researchers at the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) measured thermal-runaway pressures of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells as a function of free space within sealed enclosures and observed an inverse power relationship. A well-confined cell produced 4260 psia (294 bar) of pressure during a thermal runaway, far exceeding minimum pressure containment specifications for conventional explosion-proof enclosures. Results indicate that adding enough free space surrounding LFP cells can reduce thermal-runaway pressures to levels below that expected for CH4-air ignitions. Measured thermal-runaway temperatures were below the minimum autoignition temperature of CH4-air.


Full-text paper:
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2021) 38:539–547,


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