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Thermal Runaway 101


Recently, one of our sites had the unfortunate experience of the batteries undergoing Thermal Runaway, or in layman’s terms: the cells inside the battery exploded. One thing to note is that this particular site did have a monitoring system complete with a temperature gauge, however the system was only set up to send alert emails, which are not very effective at 3 in the morning. Now, what exactly does Thermal Runaway mean? According to Wikipedia, “When handled improperly, or if manufactured defectively, some rechargeable batteries can experience thermal runaway resulting in overheating. Sealed cells will sometimes explode violently if safety vents are overwhelmed or nonfunctional.” Also, the older the battery, the higher the chances of Thermal Runaway. The most well known occurrence of this happening is in laptop batteries, and many of you may remember back in 2006 when Dell had to recall many of its laptops due to them catching fire. So, how do we go about repairing this? Well, you can’t really. After this process takes place the batteries are rendered useless and have to be replaced with new ones. Now, you may be wondering is it possible to prevent this? There is no 100% foolproof way to prevent Thermal Runaway in your batteries, but your best bet is to replace the batteries when your servicing company recommends that you should, as well as having preventive maintenance. And having a good monitoring system that will text or even call you with any alerts when something goes awry doesn’t hurt either.



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