Matsumura, H., Itoh, S., and Ando, K., "Basic Study on Thermal Runaway Propagation through Lithium Ion Cells," SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars - Mech. Syst. 8(2):546-555, 2015, doi:10.4271/2015-01-1379.
Lithium-ion cells are being used in an increasing number of electric and hybrid vehicles. Both of these vehicle types contain many cells. Despite various safety measures, however, there are still reports of accidents involving abnormal heat, smoke, and fire caused by thermal runaway in the cells. If thermal runaway in one cell triggers that of another and thus causes thermal runaway propagation, this can lead to rupture of the battery pack, car fire, or other serious accidents.This study is aimed to ensure the safety of vehicles with lithium-ion cells by clarifying such accident risks, and so we investigated the process of thermal runaway propagation. In the experiment, we created a battery module made of seven laminate-type cells tightly stacked one on another. Then, we induced thermal runaway in one of the cells, measured the surface temperatures of the cells, and collected video data as the process developed. As a result, all of the seven cells underwent thermal runaway. We clarified the timing at which gas and flame eruptions occurred and the process of thermal runaway propagation. This experiment clarified one of the phenomena that occur during such propagation.