Sensor systems for the characterization of vent products from thermal runaway of lithium-ion batteries



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With the increasing prevalence of lithium-ion batteries in residential and commercial applications, their failure, via thermal runaway, is also becoming increasingly common. Four primary hazards result from this self-heating phenomenon: flammability hazards, explosion hazards, toxicity hazards, and inhalation hazards. This thesis aims to explore sensor systems, both handheld and benchtop, that can be used to characterize these vented gases and particulates. The first chapter investigates the accuracy and time response of commercial multi-gas sensors commonly utilized by firefighters. Recommendations for interpretations of readings are provided, along with equations and correction factors to improve sensor accuracy. The second chapter describes the use of benchtop and commercially available PM2.5 sensors. Additionally, validation of these sensors via comparison with calibrated equipment is provided, along with recommendations for interpretations and adjustments that should be considered during use. The following chapter describes the use and results of these particle sizing sensors and handheld multi-gas sensors in near source and dilute battery thermal runaway environments. This data provides preliminary guidelines on the composition and concentrations of battery thermal runaway particulates released for varying cell chemistries and states of charge. The final chapter details an acquired structure test involving lithium-ion batteries of varying capacity and chemistry. The sensor systems described previously were utilized to characterize the resulting gaseous products, alongside additional sensors measuring temperature and heat fluxes. The summation of this work provides guidelines for the use of particulate and gas analysis sensor systems to characterize lithium-ion battery thermal runaway vent products for the improved safety of firefighters and the general public.


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