VW-Project: Thermal Runaway of Lithium Batteries

Department of Hydromechanics and Modelling of Hydrosystems

Funded by the Volkswagen-Stiftung from 1st August 2011 until 31st July 2014


The thermal runaway of lithium batteries is an outstanding example for an extremeevent in a complex technical system. Thermal runaway refers to the ignition or explo-sion of a battery as consequence of a self-accelerating heating process that is initi-ated by stochastically-occurring internal or external triggers. The correspondingsafety problems are today a major factor impeding the introduction of lithium batteriesfor electromobility or stationary energy storage. The objective of the present study isto understand, predict and control thermal runaway in lithium batteries. We proposethe development and application of a combined methodology of multi-scale determi-nistic modeling, stochastic simulation, and experimental analyses. This will allowprobabilistic predictions of thermal runaway events and, particularly, the design of anearly-alert and risk-aware heat management system for lithium batteries. The resultsare expected to give a major thrust to energy-efficient electromobility and to storageof energy from sustainable sources.

Project manager

Nowak, Wolfgang

Research assistant

Mehne, Julian




08/2011 - 07/2014


Volkswagen foundation

Cooperation partners


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