The Great Debate: Which Battery Chemistry is Safer, Li-ION vs. LiFE

Is it true that Lithium batteries can experience a thermal event (commonly referred to as “catching fire”)?

YES, it is true and the fact is you can never reduce this risk to ZERO percent.  However, you can limit your risk greatly by purchasing a technology with superior design quality and a data supported track record.

Li-ion batteries are the most widely used rechargeable batteries on the market and they are used in virtually every application up to and including implantable medical devices.  If your focus is on safety and performance, you need to understand the primary causes of a thermal events and ask yourself two critical questions:

  • How can an event be prevented?
  • What containmentmeasures are taken should an event occur?

Let’s start with PREVENTION and dig into the primary 3 drivers of thermal events:

  1. Manufacturing defects: Lithium battery cells from reputable manufacturers typically have failure rates of <1 cell per million produced.  These failure rates are independent of the type of Lithium and therefore, the particular chemistry of the battery has no influence on manufacturing defects. However, the quality of the cell manufacturer does, which is why it is critical to use only cells from a reputable cell manufacturer.
  2. Mechanical damage: Mechanical damage is defined as any external force that compromises the integrity of the cell structure.  Such damage will usually “crush” the cell causing an internal short that creates a thermal runaway condition.  It is critical that any Lithium battery technology be properly enclosed and shielded from external factors that could damage the battery. Without a high quality enclosure design, ANY Lithium technology is susceptible to a thermal event and the chemistry of the battery has no influence on the batteries ability to withstand mechanical damage.
  3. Battery Management: The process of charging or discharging a battery naturally generates heat, and this heat is what could eventually create a thermal event if not carefully monitored and controlled.  Proper monitoring means measuring the temperature of the battery and adjusting the charge/discharge rate to ensure the battery never reaches the temperature at which a thermal event will occur.  Once again, the chemistry of the battery has no impact on the system design aspects that keeps a battery cool during operation.

It is also important that you look athow the battery CONTAINS the problem if a thermal event were to occur.  Because the risk of a thermal event can never be eliminated, the battery design must account for this possibility and ensure the event is minimized by preventing a chain reaction where one cell “ignites” the adjacent cells – AND– any event does not breach the battery case.

THE TAKEAWAY:  It’s more important to ensure the quality of the cell manufacturer, how well the battery is built (can it withstand impact/mechanical damage), what design features are built in to ensure the battery never overheats and finally, if a thermal event does occur, how will the battery design contain the problem? The type of Lithium chemistry presents marginal differences compared to the safety and quality features of the design.

TRY THE SAFEST AND MOST RELIABLE BATTERY ON THE MARKET:  The core design of the ELORA battery was a cooperative effort between Anton Bauer (a battery and power systems design company with more than 50 years of experience) and Panasonic (the world’s most reputable cell manufacturer). Our battery technology has been used to deliver nearly 5M cells into the marketplace – without a single reported thermal event.

For more information on the ELORA battery design attributes and how our system can safely support your Workstation on Wheels/EHR workflow, contact us at: 888-77ELORA