Safety and Reliability

Sandia National Laboratories is advancing the understanding of safety and reliability of electrochemical energy storage systems for grid scale applications. Battery systems have the potential for improving the resiliency of the electric grid by providing on-demand energy storage for a variety of applications. The use of advanced battery technology however introduces new risks that must be researched and understood.

At Sandia we integrate testing expertise and thermal reaction knowledge to provide a multi-pronged approach that:

  • Generates experimental battery failure and degradation data
  • Uses thermochemical modeling to better understand the science behind single cell and cascading failure
  • Investigates how failure and degradation will ultimately impact the resiliency of energy storage systems

As energy storage is used to improve the resiliency of the electric grid, the safety and resiliency of the energy storage systems themselves must also be well characterized to not create additional vulnerabilities. The primary activities include:

  1. Battery abuse testing to understand thermal runaway behavior and its consequences. The Battery Abuse Test Laboratory is a DOE core facility supporting safety testing for energy storage from single cells to large modules. As battery technology advances, testing will be continually needed to understand the potential risks posed by new technologies.
  2. Research to understand the long-term reliability of batteries and the impacts of degradation on safety. Grid scale energy storage systems will need to be in operation for over a decade and understanding both how cells degrade and the impacts of the degradation is critical for maintaining these facilities throughout their lifetime.
  3. Multi-scale thermal modeling to understand thermal runaway of batteries from the single cell to a fully operational storage facility. The resources required for destructive testing mean that not all failure cases will be covered during testing. Multi-scale modeling advances the underlying science behind battery failure and provides a means to fully explore the battery failure of large-scale systems.

Loraine Torres-Castro

(505) 377-5492