Lithium-Ion Battery Safety and Failure Modes

ECS Short Course

The severity of an energetic lithium ion battery (LIB) safety mishap can have catastrophic consequences to users of devices employing high specific energy LIBs. As such, continuous improvements in lithium-ion cell, battery, and system safety design features are a major focus of the energy storage marketplace.

This Short Course provides a foundation for understanding the general principles of LIB safety hazards and failure modes analysis. The effects of LIB chemical, electrical, thermal, and mechanical design features on safety characteristics is presented. Thermal runaway mechanisms are discussed in terms of risk factors that influence thermal runaway such as cell chemistry, battery design, operating conditions, and other factors. A special focus on LIB safety testing, implementation of industry standards, and lessons-learned from high-visibility industry LIB incidents is provided. The severity and consequences of catastrophic LIB failures is also presented with practical examples of how real-life industry LIB safety incident outcomes have been evaluated.

The course is designed to benefit industry practitioners, academicians, R&D scientists, practicing engineers, and students who need to increase their knowledge in the safe design of LIB energy storage systems. Attendees gain an increased understanding of the potential safety hazards inherent to LIB and how these hazards are effectively evaluated and mitigated.

About the instructor

Thomas P. Barrera, PhD, is currently Owner and President of LIB-X Consulting, where he provides engineering and educational services in the broad area of LIB power systems. With over 35 years of relevant industry experience, Dr. Barrera previously served as a Technical Fellow for The Boeing Co., battery R&D test engineer at The Aerospace Corporation, and power systems engineer at the NASA-Johnson Space Center. He currently serves as an industry member of the NASA Engineering and Safety Center and is on the advisory board for South 8 Technologies. Frequently invited to speak and lecture at domestic and international conferences, Dr. Barrera has over 50 combined conference presentations and publications, including three US patents in the area of aviation battery safety. Tom is also editor of the first-ever technical reference book on aerospace LIBs, titled Spacecraft Lithium-Ion Battery Power Systems (John Wiley & Sons, IEEE Press, 2023).

After receiving his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Dr. Barrera served as a postdoctoral research fellow in the UCLA Deptartment of Materials Science and Engineering. He also received an MS in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University, BS in Chemical Engineering and BA in Mathematics-Economics from University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Barrera serves as a member-at-large in the ECS Battery Division, AIAA Associate Fellow, and member of the MRS and Tau Beta Pi.