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Batteries go bang!


Find out why we test batteries beyond their limits.

Batteries go bang image showing large battery failing with big explosion of sparks

Batteries are an integrated part of everyday life. Their existence is vital to modern day living: from phones to fitness trackers, cars to cargo ship even powering our front line commands.

The way we generate, store and access energy to enable our increasingly power-hungry world is experiencing a huge upsurge in technical development. From solid-state to redox flow batteries, the number of options and their potential applications is growing almost daily.

While the number of options and applications for batteries increases and their energy density develops at such a rate, the standards we use to ensure safety are also having to race to keep up. A typical standards-based approach provides safe boundaries of battery use and tests for safety within these. However, as energy storage professionals we must give consideration to the safety of batteries when misused, whether purposeful or unintentional.

Photo: Battery exploding during testing

This could include a pallet of batteries overheating as they wait on the tarmac of a sunny airfield; or an airline passenger’s laptop battery experiencing a fault and releasing gases designed to be harmless in the open air but dangerous in a confined space…

The consequences of going outside recommended battery use boundaries can be unpredictable and severe. Newer cell designs are increasingly energy dense and most standards test only within set safety limits. The resulting unmanaged risks remain hidden unless innovative testing is completed. For example, our tests to date have shown the difference between vehicle batteries that can be pierced and still allow a short period of safe driving versus those that will immediately become a threat to life. This could be vital when considering the potential impact of shrapnel on the road to vehicle batteries whether military, commercial or consumer.

In order to use, travel with or operate battery powered equipment with confidence it is imperative to know how resilient a battery truly is and the consequences of going outside safe boundaries. Only then can you choose, use and rely upon a battery with confidence.

You can read more on our work around batteries and power sources here.