Energy storage and battery cost of a field failure

Cost of failure is humongous

Tier one suppliers shifted the research and testing focus on the automotive market. The sale and use of batteries require continuous testing and analysis to measure performance characteristics. Daily Gigabytes of data, Excel-based, Little analysis Distributed Teams, New Data are increasing concerns for the customers.

Mind-boggling growth opportunity for Battery Life Cycle Management

“Batteries have been interesting to us because they’re the bottleneck” in the clean energy transition, Livingston said. “It’s about fuel replacement.”

Yet the world is still heavily dependent on dated battery science, including lithium-ion batteries — a technology that was first developed half a century ago and commercialized by Sony nearly 30 years ago — for much of its energy storage. That includes electric cars, cell phones, laptops, and solar power backup. Three main inventors of the lithium battery, including a 97-year-old chemist from the University of Texas who is still active in research, were awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry this past fall.

But after years of incremental improvements, the battery scene is undergoing a major shift. Battery prices keep plummeting, dropping 87% over the past decade with expectations that the decline will continue, according to experts. There are major new U.S. initiatives and an influx of capital to push the sector towards higher-performing batteries, as well as a race for the development of post-lithium-ion batteries.

The lithium-ion battery market alone is valued at somewhere around $30 billion today, with predictions that it could spike four-fold over the coming decade, according to a December report from BloombergNEF.


Field failure is 15 times more in Tesla, Boeing, and Samsung

Common battery cell operating window problems

The energy industry is transforming. Renewables are claiming their place, consumers of electricity are generating it as well, and added to this, an increasing number of electric vehicles plugin instead of filling up. The grid has evolved, with electricity now flowing both ways – to and from consumers. Here, at the ‘edge of the grid’ where consumers and utilities interact, is where we see the most disruption and innovation. Different parties involved and data tracking needed along the whole value chain.

How do you do the following?  Supplier qualification, characterization of electrical performance, non-destructive and destructive tear-down, and environment analysis, development of incoming inspection protocols. No standard for battery state of health or remaining battery value. How can I choose the best cell, pack, and operation strategy?

How do you know your cell supplier?

Supplier cell quality is critical to battery safety, foreign materials, and particulate contamination.  Manufacturing defects increase the risk of shorting and thermal runaways.  How good is your assembly process? Pouch cells do not have the mechanical protection of metallic encased cells. It is critical the host device/assembly process not induce sufficient room for cell expansion. Soldering of pouch cell terminals not recommended. Why do my batteries die? Can I optimize my operation strategy to maximize my lifetime?

Are you selecting characterization and test capability smartly?

Here are just a few critical tests: Microscopy and imaging, environmental testing, chemical characterization, component testing, sample preparation, mechanical characterization, and testing.

Here are the important reliability services that we would suggest

  1. Bench-marking of battery cell quality and design
  2. Evaluation of battery management systems
  3. Battery life prediction
  4. Battery pack thermal solution and housing consultation
  5. Test plan development
  6. Design review and component selection 
  7. Battery failure analysis, root cause identification and recommendation
  8. Battery performance tests and a wide range of abuse condition
  9. Battery state of health 
  10. Remaining battery value

New types & chemistries challenged with decreasing prices

Common Chemistry

Battery storage is expected to play a critical role in the energy transition, in the fields of electric mobility as well as a vital component offering flexibility and supporting variable renewable energy to the power grid. Many battery chemistries remain viable, but advancements in Li-ion have led to market dominance, covering 95-99% of market deployments in recent years. Much of this can be credited to Li-ion Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt (NMC) batteries, which have a good balance of energy density and power and comprise much of the present growth in battery electric vehicles in the automotive sector. Brands such as LG and Samsung are predominantly NMC batteries. Tesla advertises its battery as a Nickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA) battery. As these batteries get cheaper in cost (reducing tenfold over the last decade), they become more viable for long-duration applications by simply stacking them in larger quantities, such that demands for power versus energy becomes covered entirely by the NCM battery compared to other energy storage technologies.  Energy density in Li-ion Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries has also been increasing over time with similar cost declines, making LiFePO4 also a viable candidate for both short and long duration functions.

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Changing the battery chemistry type to Li-S, Li-O or Mg-Ion has the potential to improve energy density by a factor changing the battery chemistry type to Li-S, Li-O, or Mg-Ion has the potential to improve energy density by a factor. Besides, we can expect faster and increased number of charging cycles. Such improvements are especially crucial for mobility applications. Changing the liquid electrolyte to solid as some of the solutions would increase the energy density and reduce the risk of thermal runaway and fires that current batteries face as a risk. In addition, we can expect faster and increased number of charging cycles. Such improvements are especially important for mobility applications. Changing the liquid electrolyte to solid as some of the solutions suggest would increase the energy density and reduce the risk of thermal runaway and fires that current batteries face as a risk.

Common lithium-ion cell operating window problems

Scarcity of Resources

Narrow Operating Windows

Narrow Operating Windows

Energsoft Laboratory

Scarcity of expertise and resources. Lack of battery quality control, application integration issues, and proper storage procedures will push batteries outside the operating window.

Narrow Operating Windows

Narrow Operating Windows

Narrow Operating Windows

Energsoft and Tesla Goals

Narrow operating windows must be respected throughout the battery life cycle: manufacturing, application integration, battery storage, warehousing, transportation, and use. But the biggest issue is evaluations

Thermal runaway

Narrow Operating Windows

Breakdown of Electrolyte

Energsoft Laboratory for Clean Environment

Big Data can be used to prevent cells operating window problems that could consist of thermal runaway issue with death and lawsuits, cathode active material breakdown oxygen release and ignition. 

Breakdown of Electrolyte

Solid Electrolyte Interface

Breakdown of Electrolyte

Electrification in Transportation

 Another possible problem venting, exothermic breakdown of electrolyte, the release of flammable gases, pressure and temperature increases, and separator melts.  

Solid Electrolyte Interface

Solid Electrolyte Interface

Solid Electrolyte Interface

Battery Pack Improvements

 Breakdown of solid electrolyte interface (SEI)  Layer and Temperature rise. Lithium plating during charging, capacity loss overheating.  Cascading failure occurs in the battery module without an aluminum heat sink.

Breakdown Short Circuit

Solid Electrolyte Interface

Solid Electrolyte Interface

Software Analytics Dashboards

Copper anode current collector dissolves cathode breakdown short circuit. Lithium plating during charging. Copper particulate contamination on battery electrode is a rare case too.

$M Losses Samsung 5000, Swagway 200, Sony 400, Boeing 600

Shanghai parking lot fire

Tesla Model S Spontaneously on Fire in Los Angeles 

Exploding Phone Batteries from Samnsung

Battery explosions in the Galaxy Note 7

Samsung recall in 2016

Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery problems

 The FAA is worried rechargeable lithium batteries may trigger catastrophic fires in the cargo holds of passenger jets. Safety analysts warn this kind of fire could take down a plane 

E-Bike Battery Burning

Research and usage continue to boost the energy storage capability of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) leading to expanding applications and consumer use. Higher energy plus increased use leads to higher risk. Therefore, accurate tests and models are critical for predicting and controlling the complex electrochemical, thermal, and mechanical behavior of LIBs. Additionally, regulations to promote protection and information derived from forensic investigations to enhance prevention are required. The task of implementing effective safety strategies falls on R&D scientists (chemical, electrical, material, and software engineers), battery manufacturers, regulatory authorities, forensic scientists, and the public. 

Anatomy of Cell Failure

Anatomy of Cell Failure

Battery Industry Problems

Energsoft is on top of advanced battery R&D work across the globe and highlights the most promising materials and cell technologies that will enable advances in battery technology expansion. Safety concerns arise when batteries are abused, used outside the design’s operational space, poorly designed, or beyond useful life. Heat generation and gas generation are the most common responses of batteries to abusive conditions--the most serious consequences occur when the stored energy is rapidly released in an unintended manner, triggering thermal runaway. This report presents the fundamentals of battery safety and abuse tolerance. It discusses materials, cells, and battery system design, manufacturing, applications, and validation, as well as the lessons learned from recent failures. 

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Energsoft Inc. optimizes the use of their battery engineering department, companies can make strategic investments in battery data analytics software. Energy storage analytics can track a battery throughout its life-cycle, providing full trace-ability and an overview of the battery’s history.

The proper handling of primary batteries

1. Do not reverse the positive and negative terminals. A device that uses three or more batteries may operate even if one battery is inserted reversely. If the battery inserted reversely is recharged, however, it may become hot, leak, or explode.

2. Do not short circuit batteries. Do not carry or store batteries with necklaces, hairpins, coins, keys, or other metallic objects. Metallic objects can cause short circuits in the positive and negative terminals of batteries, resulting in the flow of large electrical currents that can cause heat generation, explosions or fire, or generate heat in the metallic objects.

3. Since battery terminals are metallic and the surfaces of button batteries and coin-type batteries are metal, be sure to insulate battery terminals when disposing of batteries, otherwise, terminals may come into contact with the metallic surfaces of other batteries and cause short circuits.

4. The positive and negative terminals of square-type batteries, in particular, can be short-circuited if coin-type batteries are wedged in between them. This can result in recharging or over-discharging, and cause the batteries to explode or catch fire.

5. Do not recharge dry or lithium primary batteries. Dry and lithium primary batteries cannot be recharged.

6. They are not designed to be recharged, and doing so may result in accidents (heat generation or explosions).

7. Do not use different types of used and new or different brands of batteries together. The use of a mixture of different types or brands of battery, or of used and new batteries even of the same brand or type, may result in heat generation, leakage, explosion, or fire. When replacing the batteries, use new batteries of the same types and brands.

8. When batteries run down, remove them as soon as possible. Remove the batteries as soon as they become run down. Otherwise, the batteries may leak and damage the device.

9. Do not expose batteries to heat or fire. Do not expose batteries to fire. This is dangerous and can result in explosions or fires. Heating batteries may cause them to leak or explode.

10. Do not apply solder directly to batteries, do not apply solder directly to the terminals of a battery. Soldering batteries are dangerous because the heat will melt the insulator, creating an internal short-circuit, and leading to heat generation, explosion, and fire.

11. Do not disassemble or modify batteries. Disassembling a battery is dangerous and may result in an explosion or fire, and the content may cause chemical burns.

12. Do not deform a battery. Squashing, drilling, or cutting a battery is dangerous as it may result in leaking or exploding.

13. Keep batteries out of reach of children. In the event that a battery is swallowed, immediately consult a doctor. In addition, do not allow children to remove batteries from devices and do not allow animals to play with batteries. Remove the batteries from devices that will not be used for a long time

14. Even when the device is turned off, the power in the battery is slowly draining. This may result in leakage, so please remove the batteries when the device will not be used for a long time (excluding emergency devices). Place these batteries separately in a case or otherwise place them so as to avoid short-circuiting.

15. Flush with water to remove battery electrolyte from skin or clothing. If the battery leaks and its electrolyte comes into contact with skin or clothes, wash the contact area with clean water. If the battery electrolyte gets into the eye, flush immediately with clean water and consult a doctor immediately.

16. Turn off battery-powered devices when not in use. The cause of leakage in many cases is the failure to turn off the device. So please turn off devices when they are no longer in use.

17. Regularly check the condition of batteries used in devices without power on/off switch (such as clocks, wireless mice, and remote controllers). A device without power on/off switch constantly consumes and weakens battery power. This may result in the unstable behavior of the device. In such cases, the battery needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

18. Do not store batteries in a location subject to high humidity and temperatures where they are exposed to direct sunlight. The ideal environment for people is also the ideal environment for storing batteries. High humidity may cause condensation on batteries, resulting in short-circuiting. Leaving a battery in a location subject to high temperatures for a long time will reduce battery performance.

19. Do not get batteries wet. Getting a battery wet with water, salt water, juice, or other liquids can result in short-circuiting and rust.

20. Do not remove the battery label. Do not remove or damage the battery label. Removing or damaging the label makes the battery easier to short-circuit, and may result in leakage, overheating or explosion.

21. Use batteries within the recommended period. Batteries used within the recommended period will deliver the performance prescribed by JIS. Purchasing spare batteries for later use is acceptable if they are used within the recommended period.

22. Beware of fake and modified batteries. Batteries with no manufacturer or distributor names displayed or with no warning labels may be fake or modified batteries. Fake and modified batteries may have damaged or no safety mechanisms that prevent accidents. This is dangerous and may result in an explosion or fire. Be careful not to purchase these batteries.

23. Inserting/removing the battery into/from a device. Insert/remove a battery into/from a device according to the instructions in the device’s user’s manual and never use excessive force. After inserting the battery, check the behavior of the device, and in case of unstable behavior remove the battery and inspect the device.