Considerations for Thermal Modeling of Lithium-Ion Cells for Battery Analysis



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46th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Recent events involving lithium-ion batteries on commercial aircraft have raised concerns regarding thermal runaway -- a phenomenon in which stored energy in a cell is rapidly released as heat along with vented effluents. If not properly managed, testing has shown that thermal runaway in a single cell can propagate to other cells in a battery and may lead to a potentially catastrophic event. Lithium-ion batteries are becoming more widely used in a number of human-rated extravehicular space applications on the International Space Station. Thermal modeling in support of thermal runaway propagation mitigation in the Lithium-ion Rechargeable EVA Battery Assembly (LREBA) and the Lithium-ion Pistol Grip Tool (LPGT) was pursued to inform design decisions and to understand the results of extensive development testing with the goal of enhancing safety. A correct representation of thermal runaway in battery-level thermal models requires an understanding of internal cell triggering mechanisms, heat transfer mechanisms through the cell wall, an accounting of energy transport through vented gases and effluents and proper consideration of heat transfer mechanisms within the battery. Development and refinement of internal cell multi-physics models provided heating profiles used for a simplified cell thermal network representation. A collection of simplified cells was used to formulate battery-level models of, both, the LREBA and LPGT battery configurations. Limited correlation of these models was performed using test data. An assessment of heat transport via vented gases was performed using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Use of the models in conjunction with testing led to design enhancements for, both, the LREBA and LPGT configurations. These thermal-runaway severity-reduction measures are also being applied to other lithium-ion batteries being developed for the International Space Station, Extravehicular Mobility Unit and other programs. Modeling guidance and future efforts are discussed.


United States
University of South Carolina
The Boeing Company
ICES207: Thermal and Environmental Control Engineering Analysis and Software
Vienna, Austria
Steven L. Rickman, NASA Johnson Space Center, USA
Robert J. Christie, NASA Glenn Research Center, USA
Ralph E. White, Ph. D.. University of South Carolina. USA
Bruce L. Drolen, Ph. D., Boeing, USA
Moses Navarro, NASA Johnson Space Center, USA
Paul T. Coman, Mads Clausen Institute, SDU, Denmark
The 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Vienna, Austria, USA on 10 July 2016 through 14 July 2016.


lithium-ion battery, thermal runaway, thermal analysis, multi-physics analysis, computational fluid dynamics