Improving the safety of batteries for use in electric vehicles
The UK has ambitious plans to be the fastest nation in the G7 to
decarbonise cars and vans, announcing in its Transitioning to zero emission cars and vans: 2035
delivery plan that all new petrol and diesel vehicles will be
phased out by 2030.
To support this, the automotive industry is electrifying at pace
and investing hundreds of millions of pounds in developing and
building electric vehicles.
The battery technology required to power these vehicles needs to
be safe and that's where HSE Bespoke Research and Consultancy is
playing a pivotal role.
How is HSE helping?
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.
Scientists at HSE's Science and Research Centre, in a consortium
with JLR, Denchi Power, 3M, Potenza, Lifeline, Tri-Wall and the
University of Warwick, have been working as part of project LIBRIS,
a Faraday Battery Challenge project, funded by UKRI, set up to
support important research to improve the safety of batteries for
use in electric vehicles and as stationary power sources.
What do we want to find out?
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
Additionally, it will 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.
If you would like to know more about our battery safety
capabilty or how HSE Bespoke Research and Consultancy could help
with the safe introduction of similar technologies, please contact
Stuart Hawksworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
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