Lithium-ion batteries

Online Training Available: The Science of Fire and Explosion Hazards from Lithium-Ion Batteries

January 19, 2023

Lithium-ion battery-powered devices — like cell phones, laptops, toothbrushes, power tools, electric vehicles and scooters — are being deployed globally. Despite the many advantages of lithium-ion batteries, a significant safety drawback is the possibility that these batteries can overheat, catch fire, and cause explosions. Fires involving various lithium-ion battery products have increased at an alarming rate, resulting in numerous injuries and fatalities. Even when the initial cause of a fire was not the lithium-ion powered device, the involvement of these batteries can increase the intensity and magnitude of the fire.

UL's Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) developed "The Science of Fire and Explosion Hazards from Lithium-ion Batteries" online training course to provide actionable insights from the foundational research conducted to date, including a review of lithium-ion battery components, thermal runaway, and how fire and explosion hazards can develop. This course will help firefighters better understand the physical phenomena that determine how hazards develop during lithium-ion battery incidents and develop strategies to mitigate the associated risks.

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"We believe one of the most effective ways to combat risks to life safety and minimize sensationalization of lithium-ion battery thermal runaways is to inform the general public and the fire service about thermal runaway causes, how fire and explosion hazards can develop, and what can be done before and after thermal runaways to minimize the consequences."

Adam Barowy, research engineer, FSRI

After taking this course, firefighters will be able to:

  • Describe the construction of lithium-ion cells and identify the unique characteristics of lithium-ion batteries.
  • List the reasons lithium-ion batteries fail and explain the process of thermal runaway.
  • Describe the fire and explosion hazards resulting from thermal runaway propagation in lithium-ion batteries.
  • Develop strategies to reduce the risk associated with thermal runaway, including fire and explosion hazards.

Access the course here.

Examining the Fire Safety Hazards of Lithium-ion Battery Powered e-Mobility Devices in Homes
The Impact of Batteries on Fire Dynamics