Characterising Thermal Runaway within Lithium-Ion Cells by Inducing and Monitoring Internal Short Circuits

Matthew Keyser, Donal Finegan, Eric Darcy, Bernhard Tjaden, Thomas Heenan, Rhodri Jervis, Josh Bailey, Romeo Malik, Nghia Vo, Oxana Magdysyuk, Robert Atwood, Michael Drakopoulos, Marco DiMichiel, Alexander Rack, Gareth Hinds, Dan Brett, Paul Shearing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

202 Scopus Citations


Lithium-ion batteries are being used in increasingly demanding applications where safety and reliability are of utmost importance. Thermal runaway presents the greatest safety hazard, and needs to be fully understood in order to progress towards safer cell and battery designs. Here, we demonstrate the application of an internal short circuiting device for controlled, on-demand, initiation of thermal runaway. Through its use, the location and timing of thermal runaway initiation is pre-determined, allowing analysis of the nucleation and propagation of failure within 18 650 cells through the use of high-speed X-ray imaging at 2000 frames per second. The cause of unfavourable occurrences such as sidewall rupture, cell bursting, and cell-to-cell propagation within modules is elucidated, and steps towards improved safety of 18 650 cells and batteries are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1377-1388
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2017.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-68166


  • internal short circuit
  • ISC
  • lithium-ion battery
  • safety response
  • thermal runaway


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