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A Methodology for Evaluating the Root Cause of Li-ion Battery's Failure

Ashish Arora

Sneha Lele

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are present everywhere from mobile phones to electric vehicles. In some instances, a Li-ion cell may experience an energetic failure where the cell fails exothermically — referred to as the cell going into “thermal runaway.” Although infrequent, failures such as this can be destructive and pose a fire hazard. With an increasing penetration of these batteries in a variety of industries, the need for a better understanding of the causes of battery failure and failure mechanisms has also increased. A Li-ion battery failure can be due to a number of different conditions such as overcharging, overheating, mechanical abuse to the battery or a cell manufacturing defect. Factors such as the electrical and mechanical design of the battery, the overall construction quality of the cells, unforeseen external conditions etc. can all lead to a battery failure in the field. For this reason, when analyzing battery failures, a defined and systematic approach must be used to evaluate all potential causes of failure. This paper presents a failure analysis approach that can be used when determining the root cause of a battery’s failure. The steps that can be used to reach a root cause of failure will be demonstrated through a case study.

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