The Government's Faraday programme is supporting an important new research project to improve the safety of batteries for use in electric vehicles and as stationary power sources. Businesses Jaguar Land Rover, Denchi Power, 3M, Potenza, Lifeline and Tri-Wall are pooling resources with academics and experts at the University of Warwick and the Health and Safety Executive to ensure public safety in the age of electric motoring.
Electrically-powered vehicles and battery storage installations thankfully have a good safety record in the UK, but engineers and academics involved in battery design are taking no chances. Lithium-Ion battery cells have the potential to catch fire aggressively, and with consumers demanding that batteries give them further range and faster charging, there is an urgent need to develop an understanding of how such ""thermal runaway"" (TR) events may be triggered, suppressed and contained. The use of improved prevention materials, methods and mechanisms and a focus on identifying and detecting all early signs of risks, will ensure that fires can be prevented, or if necessary isolated and suppressed before they spread.
Project LIBRIS seeks to improve understanding of the range of potential causes of TR in individual battery cells and through scaling up tests and scientific understanding, develop better computational models for assessing the spread of TR within battery packs. The team will use real vehicle and stationary Lithium-Ion battery designs and applications to model theoretical work and will take forward the most effective innovations into newly designed packs which will be tested to make sure that the inventions actually work. The group will then use this experience to develop standard tests for assessing the effectiveness of any future battery fire prevention mechanisms, thus assisting the next generation of work on this vital issue.
The project will lead to better battery pack design and control software, better fire sensing equipment, more use of innovative flame-retardant materials and better packaging for batteries in transport and during storage. It will create business opportunities and investment in the UK, whilst also contributing to public safety. It will also build UK public sector capability to influence future international safety standards and regulations, so that safety remains paramount, but is science-based and not used as an artificial excuse for trade barriers.