Detailed Characterization of Particle Emissions from Li-ion Battery Fires


Date Recorded: Thursday, September 30, 2021
Host: Vinay Premnath 
Duration: 58:32


Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are becoming ubiquitous in various applications ranging from portable electronic devices to automotive vehicles, defense, and aerospace applications. They offer some unique benefits due to their high energy density and specific energy capacity. However, these characteristics also make this battery technology a potential safety hazard. They are known to be susceptible to thermal runaway when subjected to certain abuse factors that can lead to fire and smoke emissions. The ensuing heat and emissions pose a critical safety risk to human health, especially in enclosed spaces such as aircraft, ships, spacecraft, submarines, and buildings with limited ventilation.

This presentation will cover details about SwRI’s internal research program that involved detailed characterization of particulate emissions and limited analysis of gaseous emissions from Li-ion battery systems that experience thermal runaway. Test articles included four identical lithium iron phosphate (LFP) modules and one nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) module. A test matrix was designed to understand the impact of battery chemistry, trigger mechanism and variability of emissions from thermal runaway events. Particle emissions were characterized in terms of total particulate matter mass (PM2.5), real-time total (solid + volatile) and solid particle number (PN)/size, real-time black carbon concentration, organic/elemental carbon partitioning and volatile weight fraction of PM2.5. Selected gaseous species that included CO2, CO, CH2O, NO, NO2, HCl, HF, HCN, CH4 and C3H8 were measured in real-time using Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometry. Results suggest that battery fires can result in significant particle and gaseous emissions that may be a function of initiation mechanism, battery chemistry, and cell arrangement within a module, among other variables. Further, particle emissions were observed to be in the respirable size range with peak concentrations in the ultrafine size scale (sub 100 nm).

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