Thermal Runaway in Lithium-ion Batteries Studied

Thanks to artefact for posting about this article in the Always On thread.

An article in Science Daily discusses research that has been carried out at University College in London to try and understand how Li-ion batteries occasionally overheat and go into a ‘thermal runaway’ state. The US Federal Aviation Administration has carried out tests which show that fires could be caused by overheating batteries, and as a result, three airlines will no longer transport bulk packages of Li-ion batteries.

Overheating batteries that cause fires have been reported in the news in recent years, notably in Tesla electric cars and in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The discussion included descriptions that I find quite familiar in terms of LENR reactions that we have discussed here frequently:

The team looked at the effects of gas pockets forming, venting and increasing temperatures on the layers inside two distinct commercial Li-ion batteries as they exposed the battery shells to temperatures in excess of 250 degrees C.

The battery with an internal support remained largely intact up until the initiation of thermal runaway, at which point the copper material inside the cell melted indicating temperatures up to ~1000 degrees C. This heat spread from the inside to the outside of the battery causing thermal runaway.

The research didn’t seem to be investigating the cause of what caused the thermal runaway events, they seemed mainly to be concerned with safety in the design of these batteries. It does seem possible to me, however, with all that we have been learning, that there could be be LENR events taking place that are responsible for overheating — especially when dealing with lithium, which we know is a key ingredient for the E-Cat.

Here’s a video about the research project:

  • Ged

    It is short sighted not to be studying the mechanistic cause. After all, can’t design better, less explosive Lithium ion batteries (remember those Sony laptops?) without understanding why this is occurring.

    • Justa Guy

      Other groups are studying the causes. In regards to LENR, search for “Lewis Larsen” and you will find a nice Slide Review.

  • Curbina

    I think that the team behind the Widom Larsen theory of LENR have turned many stones up trying to find tell tale signs of LENR in common and poorly studied phenomena as in catalitic converters, including their blunder of CFT bulbs. Li-ion batteries seem to have been adressed as a part of this.

  • Curbina
  • Curbina
  • This is a very intriguing thought but with the key difference that it surely must be taken more seriously by mainstream science because of the direct threat to public safety that Li-ion batteries pose.

    To deny that LENR exists at all and should therefore be denied energy research money is one thing but to deny – on record – that LENR could possibly be the cause of Li-ion battery meltdowns – because “LENR doesn’t exist at all” – leaves the door open to the future deployment of the most deadly of all American weapons – the multi-billion dollar law suit!

    That possible, massive hit on the pockets of the current, LENR-denying, crop of “expert science advisors” may prove to be the final “three pointer” for LENR acceptance by mainstream science and media.

  • Interesting premise. What are the ingredients of these batteries? If you have any moisture getting inside, then you have electrolysis and free hydrogen gas which would be broken into H1 gas. You have different metals in there beside lithium, which is a known LENR catalyst. Is nickel present or titanium? LENR might well be an explanation. Maybe they should try to provoke a runaway reaction and test for gamma radiation and slow moving free neutrons.

  • curbina not logged in

    curbina here from mobile. I refer to the blunder of the isotopic change in Cft lightbulbs that is only apparent but that Larsen took as LENR evidence

  • Obvious

    If this is a LENR reaction, then how would NiCd battery runaway fit in?
    It seems to me that the cause of the beginning of runaway is the formation of either copper or lithium dendrites that link to short circuit the battery. In NiCd it is probably nickel or cadmium, but running them dry was often a precursor, so drying and flaking of paste (these were big batteries) combined with charging were the suspects for the onset of runaway, resulting in short circuit and burning.
    When I sold batteries, we used to demonstrate the rapid discharge dngers of lithium batteries by dropping them in a bucket of water (stand way back), or jingling several coin cells in cloth bag (hold by one of those garbage picker extension claw things). We heard stories of people getting badly burnt by dropping a few coin cells in their pocket… Once two cells touch each other or some change or keys across the poles (maybe a mm or less apart in coin cells) they can weld together, guaranteeing a nasty full rate discharge of the battery. In a coin cell this can be a several amps, in a 18650, it can be tens of amps.

    • GordonDocherty

      Dendrites, on the other hand, with a localized strong e-m field and heat, may well, in some cases, establish nuclear active environments – and it wouldn’t take too many to raise the temperature. Also, there is some suggestion that the metal lattices need to contain some impurities to really be useful – such impurities disrupt the otherwise uniform nature of the lattices, creating crevices, pockets, edges and other geometrical features that both concentrate em activity and “trap” free ions or, alternatively (or also), provide transport channels for ion migration from / to the surface. It is also worth noting that H2O is also present around these runaways. Yes, this may help with electron flow, but it also would play a part in the setting up of the NAE micro-sites – think of a million tiny “electrolytic” cells of the type being experimented upon elsewhere in LENR research.

      • Obvious

        I will wade into theory briefly here, against my better judgement. I think dendrites are counter-productive to the reaction. Individual grains are more effective, IMO. Think local “point-like” fields singing in harmony, not a mass of connected field forced to sing the same note. For this reason Vale-255 may be inferior to Vale-123.

    • US_Citizen71

      I think it is easy for people to neglect the ‘magic’ that is electricity when looking at this topic. The battery in an iPhone 6 for example is a 6.91 Whr battery. If a full charged battery were to discharge in 1 second it would produce 24.8 kW for 1 second. More than enough power to vaporize the metal shaft of most small screwdrivers.

      • Omega Z

        Ever tested a 48v transformer with a 24v tester. Bang.
        Learned a long time ago not to trust labeled ratings. You never know when something has been modified by some self taught old-timer. Some who are quite good I should add.

        • US_Citizen71

          Can’t say I’ve had the pleasure, but I have used plenty of low resistance 1/4 or 1/8 watt resistors as a cheap alternative for model rocket igniters. When hooked to a car battery they give a more reliable launch than commercially sold igniters.

  • Frechette

    One possible solution is a switch to solid electrolytes to replace the liquid variety now in use. The liquids tend to be organics which are flammable.

  • Curbina

    Larsen, by quoting as proof an isotopic change reported in a paper, without reading carefully the whole paper that in itself demostrated that the isotopic shift was only due to internal migration of components.

  • US_Citizen71

    I believe it was found that what was really going on was migration of some of the isotopes into the glass of the bulb.

  • Omega Z

    Imagine your Lithium-ion Battery in your car gets punctured in an accident.

    • bachcole

      I showed it to my son. That is really quite impressive. Surely someone could make a bomb out of it. I hope the law enforcement authorities, especially the TSA, are aware of this.

      • builditnow

        There are training videos on youtube for extinguishing laptop battery fires on aircraft. Basically just cool them with water or non alcoholic drinks from the drink cart and move passengers away from the laptop. The training is to avoid moving the laptop until all reactions stop as it could explode and burn you. The smell and smoke would probably be nasty. The water works fairly well. In an accident, these batteries could start fires.

        I does not appear that these batteries could hurt a passenger aircraft as long as they are given attention. They could be quite a challenge in a small 2 or 4 seat aircraft.

        • bachcole

          With deliberation, multiple Li batteries, and containment, these Li batteries could easily be made into a bomb. If multiple terrorist on an airplane where to go to the can in succession and collect all of their batteries, say 6 of them, and if they had a suitable containment structure, they could easily make a serious bomb. Match heads contained properly make a pipe bomb, and there Li batteries are much more ferocious than match heads, and I am not talking about the absolute size of the flame but the speed of the flame.

  • buillditnow

    The chemistry of a charged battery can deliver a huge amount of power for a short time making it difficult to distinguish if there was additional power from other than chemistry. Your old fashion lead-acid car battery can deliver 600 amps at 10 volts = 6 kW for a short time. Lithium Ion batteries have a lot more punch than the old technology of a car battery in a much smaller volume and lighter weight. Add in the low maximum temperature and you have a battery that can self destruct in a dramatic fashion.

    Youtube on puncturing a Li battery with a nail.

    Some more deliberate battery destruction

    A cell phone being beaten up.
    LENR is not needed to explain these battery explosions. There are efforts to make Li batteries safer.

    • Ged

      Most of these examples, where the battery is pierced, looks like the lithium just reacting with the water or other constituents in the air in the standard violent way lithium does. I’m not sure if the processes here are related to the thermal runaway, but I share your skepticism until shown otherwise. Worth looking into why spontaneous thermal runaway occurs and its mechanisms, compared to physical damage.

  • Omega Z

    The U.S. military became aware of certain anomalies(unexplained excess heat) in the 50’s as their technology increasingly became electronic intensive. The U.S. Army started scientific investigations in 1962.

    I’m aware of a “LENR” paper published in 1962 behind a pay wall. I’ve spent some time trying to locate info about this in the wild. All leads direct back to the pay wall. Over 50 years old & still not out in the wild. Is this normal?

    I find a high probability that LENR/CF research was discouraged for a period of time until they had a better understanding of the cause. No one wants a cheap to devise nuke the size of a pack of cigarettes walking around.

    I believe By 89` the security issues were resolved & the discouragement of LENR just became Scientific politics. Multi-billion$ research funding for hot fusion was at stake…

  • xyz
  • ecatworld

    Rossi on this topic:

    Andrea Rossi

    April 30th, 2015 at 7:28 AM

    The emission of heat from Li ions batteries, when they are broken for some reason, comes from the passage of electrons that change their quantic status from higher energy fields to lower energy ones. The energy saved in this changement of quantic status is turned into heat. Being this a physic phenomenon carried by electrons and not by nucleons or nuclear elementary particles, it has nothing to do with LENR.
    It is a chemical reaction between the molecules inside the battery when the batteries are broken: the new molecules combine making the electrons go closer to their respective nuclea, therefore “descend” to a lower energy level, emitting heat: this is why such chemical reactions are defined “exothermic”.
    Warm Regards,