Designing Supercapacitors and batteries to avoid thermal runaway explosions

Posted on 06/09/2013

HEL presented at Supercapacitors Europe 2013 in Berlin. The event took place across four days - 16th to 19th April, and HEL spoke on 18th April.

HEL presented techniques that have been established for the development of safe energy storage devices such as batteries and supercapacitors. The fire and explosion hazards of modern batteries are well known now, for example a Li-ion battery in January 2013 resulted in the grounding of the entire fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners operated by Japan Airlines following fires caused by Li-ion batteries.

HEL's Battery Testing Calorimeter (BTC) allows these high energy batteries and other storage devices to be tested to destruction (also called ''abuse'' testing) so that safe operating limits can be established and the consequences of failure safely demonstrated. HEL also produces a calorimeter that is able to provide data that can be used for designing safety systems to actively prevent fires and explosion incidents.

The conference in Berlin focused on the status and future direction of Supercapacitors, essentially another energy storage device (like Li-ion batteries) but which are technically more superior in many respects, (for example, they can be charged and discharged a hundred times faster). They could in the future replace batteries for many demanding applications. But like batteries, safety issues need to be addressed at the design stage and HEL is making a contribution to this through their calorimeter devices.

Topics covered:

  • An illustration of the heat produced from energy storage devices and video demonstrations of thermal runaway explosions
  • How to define key safety limits
  • How to prevent thermal explosions by using data to design thermal management systems.
  • Heat generation data for different battery types, under isothermal conditions
  • Using heat data to understand and optimise the performance of batteries and supercapacitors.

For further information on the Supercapacitors event, click here