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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.

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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).

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Correspondence to Jian Wang.

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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).

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