Experimental Study of Self-heating Ignition of Lithium-Ion Batteries During Storage: Effect of the Number of Cells

Xuanze He, Francesco Restuccia, Yue Zhang, Zhenwen Hu, Xinyan Huang, Jun Fang, Guillermo Rein

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are widely used as energy storage devices. However, a disadvantage of these batteries is their tendency to ignite and burn, thereby creating a fire hazard. Ignition of LIBs can be triggered by abuse conditions (mechanical, electrical or thermal abuse) or internal short circuit. In addition, ignition could also be triggered by self-heating when LIBs are stacked during storage or transport. However, the open circuit self-heating ignition has received little attention and seems to be misunderstood in the literature. This paper quantifies the self-heating behaviour of LIB by means of isothermal oven experiments. Stacks of 1, 2, 3 and 4 Sanyo prismatic LiCoO2 cells at 30% state of charge were studied. The surface and central temperatures, voltage, and time to ignition were measured. Results show that self-heating ignition of open circuit LIBs is possible and its behaviour has three stages: heating up, self-heating and thermal runaway. We find for the first time that, for this battery type, as the number of cells increases from 1 to 4, the critical ambient temperature decreases from 165.5°C to 153°C. A Frank-Kamenetskii analysis using the measured data confirms that ignition is caused by self-heating. Parameters extracted from Frank-Kamenetskii theory are then used to upscale the laboratory results, which shows large enough LIB ensembles could self-ignite at even ambient temperatures. This is the first experimental study of the effect of the number of cells on self-heating ignition of LIBs, contributing to the understanding of this new fire hazard.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFire Technology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Energy
  • Heat transfer
  • Ignition
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Thermal runaway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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