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Safer batteries

A CMT Institute research contributes to preventing batteries of scooters and electric bicycles from catching fire.

[ 27/05/2024 ]

A team from the CMT Institute of the Universitat Politècnica de València has developed and evaluated a new model of battery module for electric bicycles and scooters that improves their performance and safety, reducing the possibility of them catching fire. Their work has been published in the journal Applied Thermal Engineering.

The key to this proposal of the CMT Institute of the UPV lies in using phase change materials (PCMs) to separate the different cells of the battery. These materials would improve the module's safety in case of a possible thermal runaway problem and the consequent fire of the battery pack.

"The effectiveness of the solution has been tested by combining an electrochemical model to simulate the electrical performance of the battery, a thermal model to simulate the heat transfer behavior inside the module, and a kinetic model to evaluate the propagation in case of thermal runaway," explains Antonio Garcia.

Thus, the CMT-UPV team's model accurately predicts the module's electrochemical performance and thermal behavior, including energy release during operation and thermal events. In addition, they have developed a scalable predictive model for low-power modules such as those used in micromobility.

In the paper, the researchers highlight how selecting PCMs or insulating materials for micromobility battery modules requires special attention to their thermal and physical properties. "The materials must have a substantial thermal capacity and latent heat that allows rapid dissipation of the energy released during the thermal event, taking into account the most severe conditions of use of the vehicle," highlights Javier Monsalve

Laboratory tests

To validate their research, the CMT-UPV Institute team is carrying out different laboratory tests to evaluate the impact of battery aging under controlled climatic conditions, with real-world tests on a scooter instrumented to measure temperature and electrical variables in the different battery cells.

"We are doing these tests with the original scooter battery and an equivalent battery, including PCMs between the cells, to compare temperatures and battery performance during actual use. These batteries are also subjected to thermal runaway tests to check the capacity of the PCMs to avoid the propagation of the phenomenon and that the battery and vehicle end up on fire," concludes Javier Monsalve.


Antonio García, Javier Monsalve-Serrano, Amin Dreif, Carlos Guaraco-Figueira, Multiphysics integrated model of NMC111 battery module for micro-mobility applications using PCM as intercell material, Applied Thermal Engineering, Volume 249, 2024, 123421, ISSN 1359-4311, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2024.123421.

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