The Effect of Cell Geometry and Trigger Method on the Risks Associated with Thermal Runaway of Lithium-Ion Batteries

William Walker, Kylie Cooper, Peter Hughes, Ian Doemling, Mina Akhnoukh, Sydney Taylor, Jacob Darst, Julia Billman, Matthew Sharp, David Petrushenko, Rhodri Owen, Martin Pham, Thomas Heenan, Alexander Rack, Oxana Magdsyuk, Thomas Connolley, Dan Brett, Paul Shearing, Donal Finegan, Eric Darcy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus Citations


Consideration of thermal runaway heat output variability is paramount for the development of safe lithium-ion battery assemblies. This study utilizes data gathered from fractional thermal runaway calorimetry (FTRC) experiments to conduct a comparative analysis of thermal runaway heat output for three cell formats (18650, 21700, and 33600) as a function of trigger method (heaters, internal short-circuiting device, and nail penetration). The analysis is based on comparisons for the calculated total energy yield, fractional energy yield, heat rate, and heat flux. This study reveals that nail penetration tends to result in higher thermal runaway heat output for larger cells (21700 & 33600); these experiments also tended to result in higher fractions of the total energy being released through the cell body. The smaller cells (18650) did not appear to have significant variation in heat output as a function of trigger method. This finding suggests that, for this cell type, worst-case scenario heat output could be achievable in assembly level testing regardless of the utilized trigger method. This study also demonstrates successful translation of FTRC results, as recorded in the Battery Failure Databank, into meaningful analysis that breaks down the influence of specific conditions on thermal runaway heat output.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number230645
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (“NASA”)

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-81145


  • Fractional thermal runaway calorimetry
  • Heat flux
  • Heat output characterization
  • Heat rate
  • Lithium-ion battery safety
  • Thermal runaway
  • Total energy release


Dive into the research topics of 'The Effect of Cell Geometry and Trigger Method on the Risks Associated with Thermal Runaway of Lithium-Ion Batteries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this