ECS Webinar: “An Investigation into Battery Thermal Runaway Initiation and Propagation”

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(Click to enlarge)

Samuel Lawton
Senior Scientist

Date: July 17, 2024
Time: 1000–1100h ET


Exponent’s London laboratory abuse testing and failure recreation of thermal runaway in lithium-ion battery packs has shown how battery fires can initiate and propagate. This webinar discusses how even small amounts of moisture ingress into a battery pack can lead to thermal runaway of the cells within the pack. Specific conditions and behaviors of saltwater ingress-driven circuit board faults were investigated. Localized temperature increases of >400 °C even at relatively low voltages and fault currents were demonstrated, showing the potential for saltwater-induced circuit board faults to lead to cell thermal runaway events. The extent and severity of e-mobility battery fires resulting from a single cell thermal runaway failure was explored. Various suppression techniques that a user experiencing a battery fire in a household environment may attempt to implement were evaluated. Tests were run of water flows typical of a household garden hose as well as different fire blankets deployed both before the forced thermal runaway event, and after initiation. In addition, various design approaches such as added thermal insulation between cells were shown to help prevent cell-to-cell propagation and reduce the severity of a battery pack failure.

An interactive Q&A session follows the presentation.

Benefits of attending the webinar

Learn about:

  • Common causes and prevention methods of battery thermal runaway events;

  • How to suppress or contain such an event.


Samuel Lawton is a Senior Scientist at Exponent, where he leads complex projects focused on battery performance and safety. He is an expert in batteries and energy storage with extensive experience in failure analysis, pack design, quality evaluation, factory auditing, and thermal testing and cell testing. In his role, Dr. Lawton specializes in root cause failure analysis, thermal event investigations, and product validation. He is proficient in X-ray computed tomography, non-destructive and destructive cell testing, and bespoke abuse testing.

Dr. Lawton holds a PhD in Chemistry. His previous work at OXIS Energy Ltd included developing novel anode protections and unique cathode materials for advanced battery systems.

Learn more about upcoming ECS Webinars and review our previous webinar recordings.

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