Investigation on the thermal hazards of 18650 lithium ion batteries by fire calorimeter


In applications of lithium ion batteries, it is a requisite to precisely appraise their fire and explosion hazards. In the current study, a fire calorimeter is utilized to test the combustion performance of two commercial 18650 lithium ion batteries (LiCoO2 and LiFePO4) at different state of charge (SOC). Characteristics on thermal hazards of lithium ion batteries including surface temperature, time to ejection, mass loss, and heat release rate (HRR) are measured and evaluated. In case of thermal runaway, all the lithium ion batteries will rupture the can and catch fire even explode automatically. The solid electrolyte interface layer decomposition and the polymer separator shrinking are direct causes of the lithium ion battery fire. The experimental results show that the HRR and total heat generally rise as the SOC increases, whereas the time to first ejection and the time gap between first and second ejection decrease. LiCoO2 18650 battery shows higher explosion risk than LiFePO4 18650, as the former has released much more oxygen. The experimental combustion heats calculated and modified in the oxygen consumption method reveal that the internally generated oxygen have significant effect on the estimate of the heat, where the largest modified rate is 29.9 for 100 % SOC LiCoO2 18650 battery. The results can provide scientific basis for fire protection during the storage and distribution of lithium ion batteries.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. 1.

    Ritchie A, Howard W. Recent developments and likely advances in lithium-ion batteries. J Power Sources. 2006;162(2):809–12.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Fergus JW. Recent developments in cathode materials for lithium ion batteries. J Power Sources. 2010;195(4):939–54.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Farrington MD. Safety of lithium batteries in transportation. J Power Sources. 2001;96(1):260–5.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Wang Q, Ping P, Zhao X, Chu G, Sun J, Chen C. Thermal runaway caused fire and explosion of lithium ion battery. J Power Sources. 2012;208:210–24.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Roth EP, Doughty DH. Thermal abuse performance of high-power 18650 Li-ion cells. J Power Sources. 2004;128(2):308–18.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Aurbach D, Teller H, Koltypin M, Levi E. On the behavior of different types of graphite anodes. J Power Sources. 2003;119:2–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Chen X, Usrey M, Peña-Hueso A, West R, Hamers RJ. Thermal and electrochemical stability of organosilicon electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries. J Power Sources. 2013;241:311–9.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Liu Y, Mi C, Yuan C, Zhang X. Improvement of electrochemical and thermal stability of LiFePO4 cathode modified by CeO2. J Electroanal Chem. 2009;628(1):73–80.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Venugopal G, Moore J, Howard J, Pendalwar S. Characterization of microporous separators for lithium-ion batteries. J Power Sources. 1999;77(1):34–41.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Duh YS, Kao CS, Ou WJ, Hsu JM. Thermal instabilities of organic carbonates with charged cathode materials in lithium-ion batteries. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2014;116(3):1105–10.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Weng Y, Xu S, Huang G, Jiang C. Synthesis and performance of Li[(Ni1/3Co1/3Mn1/3)1− xMgx]O2 prepared from spent lithium ion batteries. J Hazard Mater. 2013;246:163–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Wen CY, Jhu CY, Wang YW, Chiang CC, Shu CM. Thermal runaway features of 18650 lithium-ion batteries for LiFePO4 cathode material by DSC and VSP2. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2012;109(3):1297–302.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Jhu CY, Wang YW, Wen CY, Chiang CC, Shu CM. Self-reactive rating of thermal runaway hazards on 18650 lithium-ion batteries. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2011;106(1):159–63.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Ribière P, Grugeon S, Morcrette M, Boyanov S, Laruelle S, Marlair G. Investigation on the fire-induced hazards of Li-ion battery cells by fire calorimetry. Energy Environ Sci. 2012;5(1):5271–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Thornton WM. The relation of oxygen to the heat of combustion of organic compounds. The London, Edinburgh Dublin Philos Mag J Sci. 1917;33(194):196–203.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Janssens ML. Measuring rate of heat release by oxygen consumption. Fire Technol. 1991;27(3):234–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Huggett C. Estimation of rate of heat release by means of oxygen consumption measurements. Fire Mater. 1980;4(2):61–5.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Wang Q, Sun J, Yao X, Chen C. Thermal behavior of lithiated graphite with electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries. J Electrochem Soc. 2006;153(2):A329–33.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Lu TY, Chiang CC, Wu SH, Chen KC, Lin SJ, Wen CY, Shu CM. Thermal hazard evaluations of 18650 lithium-ion batteries by an adiabatic calorimeter. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2013;114(3):1083–8.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Jiang J, Dahn JR. ARC studies of the thermal stability of three different cathode materials: LiCoO2; Li[Ni0.1Co0.8Mn0.1]O2; and LiFePO4, in LiPF6 and LiBoB EC/DEC electrolytes. Electrochem Commun. 2004;6(1):39–43.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    MacNeil DD, Dahn JR. The reaction of charged cathodes with nonaqueous solvents and electrolytes: I. Li0. 5CoO2. J Electrochem Soc. 2001;148(11):A1205–10.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Joachin H, Kaun TD, Zaghib K, Prakash J. Electrochemical and thermal studies of carbon-coated LiFePO4 cathode. J Electrochem Soc. 2009;156(6):A401–6.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Kim J, Park KY, Park I, Yoo JK, Hong J, Kang K. Thermal stability of Fe–Mn binary olivine cathodes for Li rechargeable batteries. J Mater Chem. 2012;22:11964–70.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Chen M, He Y, Zhou D, Richard Y, Wang J. Experimental study on the combustion characteristics of primary lithium batteries fire. Fire Technol. 2014;. doi:10.1007/s10694-014-0450-1.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51376172) and a Grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (No. CityU 11215314).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jian Wang.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chen, M., Zhou, D., Chen, X. et al. Investigation on the thermal hazards of 18650 lithium ion batteries by fire calorimeter. J Therm Anal Calorim 122, 755–763 (2015).

Download citation


  • Lithium ion battery
  • Thermal runaway
  • Calorimeter
  • Heat release rate
  • Oxygen
  • LiCoO2
  • LiFePO4