Compressible Battery Foams to Prevent Cascading Thermal Runaway in Li-Ion Pouch Batteries

Chuanbo Yang, Nathaniel Sunderlin, Wei Wang, Chris Churchill, Matthew Keyser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus Citations


Lithium-ion battery packs require thermal management to achieve optimum life and safety. This is becoming crucial for battery packs composed of high-energy-density cells. Pouch cells themselves achieve highest packaging efficiency but require additional structural support and thermal management when grouped into modules, especially under abusive conditions such as thermal runaway. Novel foam battery pads have demonstrated to cushion volume changes of pouch cells and are reengineered in this study to mitigate cell-to-cell thermal runaway propagation. The compressible pads are made of polyurethane foams incorporating flame-retardant additives or coatings, including intumescent and fire wall materials. Their performances were evaluated by conducting nail penetration tests on modules composed of pouch cells at 100% state of charge (SOC), with the foams placed in between the cells. Experimental results show cascading thermal runaway was considerably delayed by polyurethane foams incorporating flame-retardant additives or coatings. Complete prevention of cascading failure was achieved with dense polyurethane foams with multilayered coatings of both fire wall and intumescent materials.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number231666
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-82479


  • Battery safety
  • Flame-retardant foams
  • Li-ion pouch cells
  • Thermal management
  • Thermal runaway propagation


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