Energy Storage Systems (ESS): Avoiding Thermal Runaway

 In Blog, EVs

Importance of ESS for resilient electrical grids

An Energy storage system (ESS) is capable of storing electrical energy for use at a later time. It stores energy during low periods of demand and utilizes the stored energy by putting it onto the power grid during peak periods of demand. ESS has the capacity to allow the generation and distribution of electrical energy to be balanced based on demand of the end user, thus maximizing the use of generated energy.

ESS is revolutionizing how energy is generated and delivered around the world. It is an emerging market that is playing a key role for attaining a strong and resilient electrical grid.

Li-ion batteries for energy storage

In recent years, battery ESS has gained increasing interest in serving grid support in several application tasks. Especially, systems based on lithium-ion batteries have evolved rapidly with a wide range of cell technologies and system architectures available in the market. The family of lithium-ion batteries are feasible in the energy storage industry because of their high energy densities, high efficiency, and cycle life.

They are also an ideal battery to use for energy storage because of their ability to retain a charge. Generally, as batteries age, their capacity reduces, not allowing them to be fully charged due to the loss in capacity of the battery. However, lithium-ion batteries only lose ¼ the amount of charge compared to other standard batteries such as lead-acid or nickel-cadmium. Lithium-ion batteries also do not suffer memory loss. Therefore, they can achieve nearly 100% charge and discharge efficiency, which gives them a longer cycle life.

In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly 50% of the deployed electrochemical ESS utilizes a lithium-ion or lithium iron phosphate chemistry. The number of batteries can range between thousands to tens of thousands of lithium-ion batteries within an ESS container. As this technology continues to progress, the storage capabilities of lithium-ion batteries are expected to advance, giving a boost to their usage for energy storage applications.

Thermal runway in lithium-ion batteries

While lithium-ion batteries play an integral role in storing energy, such ESS facilities have the potential to catch fire due to significant heat release. In general, storing large amounts of energy in a confined space is a risk because it can present the potential for a violent energy release in the form of a fire or explosion. A lithium-ion battery enters the thermal runaway mode when the cell temperature reaches a threshold that causes an uncontrollable rapid release of energy and corresponding temperature rise, resulting in a thermal event, such as a fire. Once a battery within an ESS ignites, the other cells also have the potential to get overheated and initiate propagating thermal runaway reactions between adjacent batteries, modules, and racks within the ESS.

Fire can suddenly erupt in a lithium-ion battery once it undergoes failure. During a thermal runaway event, the energy release is tremendously hazardous and difficult to control.

LHS as solution for thermal runway

Electric Li ion battery avoiding thermal runaway

One of the major solutions to reduce the harmful thermal effects in lithium batteries is through the use of Latent Heat Systems (LHS) materials. LHS materials can help in several ways to absorbing and storing thermal energy, thus reducing harmful thermal effects. These materials are becoming increasingly popular as practical, simple, and economical thermal management designs for power-intensive lithium-ion battery applications.

A significant feature of LHS Materials is its capability to reduce and even eradicate the potential for Thermal Runaway or Propagation in battery packs. The LHS Materials are highly flame retardant and can eliminate the potential for runaway in a battery pack resulting in a much safer product. They provide energy absorption and heat dissipation characteristics for passive thermal control.

LHS materials are specially designed to prevent thermal runaway, maintain homogeneous temperatures across cells, and reduce battery overheating due to fast charging or discharging, which leads to less battery degradation.


LHS materials provide an enhanced safety that is enabled in lithium-ion battery systems by adding additional layers of security to protect systems from thermal runaway. For expert assistance on LHS materials, get in touch with Quanzen today!

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