What is thermal runaway and how can it be addressed?

What is thermal runaway and how can it be addressed?

Thermal runaway is a significant risk present in batteries. It occurs due to a battery cell failure of some kind, occasionally as simple as the separator between the anode and the electrolyte breaking down. This generates an increase in temperature, creating a chain reaction in which more energy is released, causing the electrolyte to break down into flammable gasses. Once the separator melts, the cathode of the battery breaks down further fuelling the fire with oxygen, triggering an uncontrolled positive feedback loop, often leading to a destructive result. The risk of thermal runaway begins at 60°C and becomes extremely critical at 100°C. Once the process has begun, temperatures rise rapidly within milliseconds – creating temperatures of around 400°C. It is particularly prevalent in lithium-ion batteries.