Prevention of Lithium-Ion Battery Thermal Runaway Using Polymer-Substrate Current Collectors

Martin Pham, John Darst, William Walker, Thomas Heenan, Drasti Patel, Francesco Iacoviello, Alexander Rack, Margie Olbinado, Gareth Hinds, Dan Brett, Eric Darcy, Donal Finegan, Paul Shearing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus Citations


Isolating electronically conducting material from internal short circuits is a promising way to prevent the onset of thermal runaway within lithium-ion cells. Here, a metal-coated polymer current collector, which is designed to disconnect internal short circuits by withdrawing from the heating region, is tested in 18650 cells. In addition to having lower mass and manufacturing costs, cells with metal-coated polymer current collectors demonstrate a reduced risk of thermal runaway during nail penetration. High-speed synchrotron X-ray radiography of 18650 cells during nail-penetration testing, in tandem with pre- and post-mortem X-ray computed tomography, provides insights into the function of the current collectors. The results are compared with those of 18650 cells with standard commercial aluminum and copper current collectors. Cells with aluminum-coated polymer current collectors demonstrated 100% success in thermal runaway prevention during nail penetration, retaining a cell voltage >4.00 V, while standard cells consistently experienced thermal runaway.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 100360
Number of pages16
JournalCell Reports Physical Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 24 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-79766


  • battery safety
  • current collectors
  • high speed X-ray imaging
  • lithium-ion thermal runaway
  • thermal runaway prevention


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