Navy engineers to design safe battery enclosures using high-speed imaging tests

16 August 2015 (Last Updated August 16th, 2015 18:30)

US Navy engineers are using high-speed imaging of failing lithium-ion batteries in order to design safe battery enclosures on ships.

US Navy engineers are using high-speed imaging of failing lithium-ion batteries in order to design safe battery enclosures on ships.

For this project, Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station, Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NAVSSES) collaborated with New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Under this project, engineers forced batteries to the point of failure in a laboratory environment in order to create a pressure release explosion and used schlieren imagery to receive precise measurements of gradients in gas density near the failing cell.

NAVSSES Energy Conversion Research and Development Branch mechanical engineer Jason Ostanek said: "It's crucial for us to understand what happens when a battery fails to know how it might affect other batteries in the space.

"It's crucial for us to understand what happens when a battery fails to know how it might affect other batteries in the space."

"Eventually we can use this data to develop lighter containers that can protect the other cells, while also being able to pack the cells closer together."

The schlieren imagery, which is capable of capturing up to 250,000 frames per second, also offers information, such as shockwave speed versus position that allows engineers to decide the track of any projectiles generated.

The data received will be compared to dynamic pressure gage measurements and parallel data, and researchers are expected to quantify the amount of gas released, the gas release velocity, and identify the presence of any shock waves produced in the battery failures.

Ostanek added: "We already know that lithium-ion batteries can meet power and energy requirements for our applications, but we also need to make sure they are being deployed in a safe manner."