Preventing Thermal Runaway: The Many Benefits Afforded by Lithium Battery Fire Testing

As electromobility is gaining momentum, high-performance rechargeable batteries are in ever growing demand. Alongside with this development, the requirements in terms of minimum weight and maximum power also keep increasing. Since today’s battery systems are susceptible to generating temperatures of over 1,500 °C, which makes them prone to explosion if a lithium battery fire occurs, effective burn-through protection in the event of a battery fire as well as protection against the release of substances toxic to health and the environment are indispensable. This protection can best be ensured by conducting dedicated lithium battery fire tests that are capable of  rising to the challenge and averting disaster. Time is of the essence in this regard: In order to identify and nip potential hazards in the bud, safety tests should be undertaken at the earliest possible stage, ideally in the phase of development. This helps not only in protecting lives and the environment, but also contributes to strengthening the reputation of a company as a foresighted organisation: Safe battery testing paves the way for safe products that will reliably  counteract battery fire hazards.

Proactive Battery Testing for Foresighted Battery Developers

High-performance batteries are a vital asset in the dissemination of electromobility. The longer a vehicle’s range, the more willing customers will be to switch from a combustion-engine vehicle to e-mobility, so range is a key argument! Also, reliable protection against a battery fire gives a clear sign and signal to your clients that you are ready to take corporate responsibility, and this again will further strengthen your fitness for the future.

Do you manufacture e-vehicles, are you operating in the field of energy storage systems (ESS) or involved in the consumer goods industry? If so, you can count on us to render valuable assistance in the development of devices that will be optimally protected against a lithium battery fire and which will provide enhanced battery protection. Our support will give you the leeway to focus on other future-related topics of relevance to you.

Nothing Goes Without Professional Battery Testing

Reports of electric vehicles catching fire and going up in almost inextinguishable flames, in conjunction with news  about exploding smartphones and bursting e-cigarettes tend to unsettle many clients and may cause lasting damage to companies. The prospect of a potential battery fire has thus evolved into a spectre that keeps haunting businesses and their clients alike.

Battery cases are required to withstand extreme temperatures, pressure variations and harsh particle impact in all circumstances. Therefore, your batteries, too, should be put to stringent safety tests before they are deployed and used in practice. In order to assess the fire safety of a battery system, we at svt conduct our patented particle impact test. This dedicated test is designed to simulate the stresses that act on a battery casing affected by a lithium battery fire as well as to provide pinpoint input and advice on the best material to use in your specific case.

Particle Impact – What Is It?

Particle impact is triggered by a thermal runaway event that induces the pressure inside a battery cell to rise to such an extent that the outer shell ruptures, allowing a jet of hot gas with a temperature of approx. 1,500 °C to escape and causing combustion products in the form of particles to be ejected from the interior of the battery cell. Particle impact basically works like sandblasting at 1,500 °C – it poses an enormous hazard not only to the adjacent cells, but also to components and to the casing.

Needs-Based Particle Impact Testing – Your Safeguard for Reliable Fire Protection

The result is yours, the work is ours: We will be delighted to put our patented particle impact test at your service by simulating the various stresses to which your battery cases would be exposed in the event of a real-life battery fire. We will examine, for example, whether the materials employed are capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and pressure variations and how they respond to severe particle impact. Prevention is better than cure: Only in this way can the environment be protected from the aftermath of a potential lithium battery fire.

The array of test parameters, such the duration of actual exposure, maximum temperature and particle grain size as well as the distance and angle between the test sample and the particle discharge opening can be adjusted to suit your specifications on a case-by-case basis – accurately, easily and fast. The test is thus extremely variable and efficient. With this proven (and officially approved!) method, over 300 different materials and material combinations have been fire-tested and evaluated by us to date.

Battery Impact Test

Battery Impact Test

A patented test procedure enables svt to simulate the loads acting on a battery housing during a battery event. The video impressively shows how a conventional unprotected aluminium plate behaves in comparison to an aluminium plate insulated with fire protection material SAERTEX LEO® COATED FABRIC. The additional material prevents the system from burning through, thus protecting the environment from the escape of fire and hot gases.

Case-by-Case Hazard Analysis Prevents Battery Fire

We have partnered with TÜV Rheinland to complement our in-house expertise in the field of batteries and battery casings with external specialist know-how.

At one of Germany’s most advanced test centres, we conduct targeted hazard analyses and fire safety tests to prevent the occurrence of battery fire (

The centre provides unique facilities and ample scope for investigating battery behaviour in a thermal runaway condition and for identifying the optimum fire protection solution for your needs on a cooperative basis. The “thermal runaway” test is the most crucial part of the battery safety investigation process. Systems with a capacity of up to 150 kWh, an overall size of up to W 1.6 x L 2.3 x H 0.4 m and a weight of up to 800 kg can be tested at the centre. These comprehensive and extensive technological capabilities ensure that your battery system, too, will be in the best of hands with us.

Thermal Runaway – What Is It?

Thermal runaway is a heat-induced chemical chain reaction of battery cells that is triggered by soaring temperatures inside a rechargeable battery as they may result from, for example, the force of an impact in an accident and an ensuing short-circuit. In the event of a thermal runaway, the electrical short-circuit in the lithium ion battery causes the electrolyte to ignite; the heat then triggers further reactions and may spread to adjacent cells (thermal propagation) so that several hundred degrees are inexorably reached in practically no time. This overheating may cause the entire battery to ignite or even explode, and this is where the unpredictable hazard associated with a lithium-battery fire lies.
Especially hybrid and electric vehicles that are powered by large high-performance batteries need to rely on effective thermal runaway prevention as a vital safety aspect. This is because battery fires caused by thermal runaway and thermal propagation pose a major risk.

Quick Screening as a Cost-Saving and Efficient Option

In the past, manufacturers were obliged to have their battery tests conducted by certified institutes – a procedure that used to involve enormous costs, considerable effort and massive material wastage: If a battery casing had been found to fail in the test and thermal runaway was in progress, the test had to be repeated in its entirety.

Thanks to our patented test procedure, those tedious days are gone because we offer our clients the opportunity to test protective products individually, i.e. isolated from others. Our tried and tested quick screening method is a cost-saving and efficient solution in this regard. Our focus here is on the question: Is the material used capable of withstanding a thermal runaway event? And even if a material fails in the dedicated test, it may still have excellent properties. The question then is: How do all the individual components behave, and how can the material be best used so that you can make the most out of it in the overall battery system? – Would you like to know? We will find out for you!

In our special battery fire test procedure, we will examine your battery system at an early stage of development with a view to identifying its optimisation potential. Based on our findings and side by side with you, we will then devise YOUR optimum solution for building better batteries and thus for all-round reliable battery safety.

Patented Testing Procedure for the Simulation of a Thermal Runaway

In the past, manufacturers were obliged to have their battery tests conducted by certified institutes – a procedure that used to involve enormous costs, considerable effort and massive material wastage: If a battery casing had been found to fail in the test and thermal runaway A patent for svt and Andreas Pfitzinger! It is more than two years ago that Andreas Pfitzinger began to delve into the topic –and now he is holding his patent in his hand. The patented test method enables us to simulate the bursting of a battery cell and thus to ascertain its resistance to the effects of thermal runaway.

Delighted with the award of the patent – Company Lawyer Fabian Dietz (left) and Product Manager Andreas Pfitzinger

The Benefits of svt Lithium Battery Fire Tests at a Glance

  • Lower material input, lower costs
  • Quick screening for fast results
  • Well-founded advice on optimum material selection
  • Enhanced safety for humans, the environment and a sustainable business future

Aluminium offers no protection – the aluminium plate burns through

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PYRO-SAFE® B BX 3200 fire protection bag under attack

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The PYRO-SAFE® B BX 3200 bag unfolds its full potential when the heat is on – it remains intact even in the face of intense particle impact from blazing flames


PYRO-SAFE® B BX 3200 bags seen from the rear – they exhibit no signs of burn-through


PYRO-SAFE® B B 3100 fire protection board under attack with ricocheting sparks


The sparks stand no chance of making it through the plate – PYRO-SAFE® B B 3100 delivers on its promise


SAERTEX LEO® COATED FABRIC under attack – again, the sparks keep bouncing off

We will be delighted to assist you!

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Andreas Pfitzinger

Andreas Pfitzinger

Product Manager Transportation