Project for first multiphysics model of battery thermal runaway

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) and Imperial College London are working on a research project on thermal runaway in battery packs.

The BESAFE project, backed by the Faraday Institution, aims to bridge the gap between thermofluid science and battery electrochemistry, developing a multiphase, multiphysics model of battery failure via thermal runaway that can cause fire sin electric vehicles,

The project complements the Faraday Institution’s Multi-Scale Modelling and SafeBatt projects

The model, which Faraday says will be the first of its kind, will consider gas dynamics and its interactions with electrochemical and thermal behaviours. The aim is to understand of initiation and propagation of the thermal runaway processes and accelerate the design of countermeasures.

The work by Electrochemical Science and Engineering research group at Imperial College London in battery technology aligns with WAE’s interest in offering greater battery safety and longevity.

Applying the multiphase multiphysics modelling toolsets will enable the design of safer battery packs with fewer iterations and physical tests; saving time, costs and materials.

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WAE will provide thermal runaway/propagation test data which has been developed as a result of numerous Research and Development programmes whilst the battery team will provide technical knowledge and industrial experience on battery safety designs helping steer the project to success.

“We are confident that the proposed study will bring tangible economic and environmental benefits and look forward to building on our long term partnership with the team at Imperial College London,” said Rob Millar, Head of Electrification, Williams Advanced Engineering.

Dr Huizhi Wang of Imperial College London who is leading the project said “Understanding and modelling thermal runaway plays a crucial role in guiding the development of safer batteries but remains challenging due to the complexity of the process. We are excited to be working with Williams Advanced Engineering on this research project to address the key knowledge gaps in battery safety modelling.”

WAE spun out of Williams Grand Prix Engineering. In December 2019, Williams Grand Prix Engineering (owned by private investment firm Dorilton Capital) sold a majority equity stake in WAE to EMK Capital and now employs approximately 400 people.  In February, WAE was acquired by mining giant Fortescue Metals Group.;; 

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