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Efficient thermal management of Li-ion batteries with a passive interfacial thermal regulator based on a shape memory alloy

Nature Energyvolume 3pages899906 (2018) | Download Citation


The poor performance of lithium-ion batteries in extreme temperatures is hindering their wider adoption in the energy sector. A fundamental challenge in battery thermal management systems (BTMSs) is that hot and cold environments pose opposite requirements: thermal transmission at high temperature for battery cooling, and thermal isolation at low temperature to retain the batteries’ internally generated heat, leading to an inevitable compromise of either hot or cold performances. Here, we demonstrate a thermal regulator that adjusts its thermal conductance as a function of the temperature, just as desired for the BTMS. Without any external logic control, this thermal regulator increases battery capacity by a factor of 3 at an ambient temperature (Tambient) of −20 °C in comparison to a baseline BTMS that is always thermally conducting, while also limiting the battery temperature rise to 5 °C in a very hot environment (Tambient = 45 °C) to ensure safety. The result expands the usability of lithium-ion batteries in extreme environments and opens up new applications of thermally functional devices.

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The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge funding support from Toyota Research Institute North America and technical discussions with D. Banerjee and G. Zhu. The authors also thank X. Ren and X. Zhang for assistance with FTIR measurements.

Author information


  1. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

    • Menglong Hao
    • , Jian Li
    •  & Chris Dames
  2. Key Laboratory of Energy Thermal Conversion and Control of Ministry of Education, School of Energy and Environment, Southeast University, Nanjing, China

    • Jian Li
  3. Energy, Controls, and Applications Lab, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

    • Saehong Park
    •  & Scott Moura
  4. Materials Sciences Division, LBNL, Berkeley, CA, USA

    • Chris Dames


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M.H. and C.D. conceived and designed the experiments. M.H. and J.L. conducted the proof-of-concept test in vacuum. M.H., S.P. and S.M. performed the experiments with the battery module. M.H. and C.D. co-wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Competing interests

M.H. and C.D. are co-inventors on a provisional patent application (US 62/719,220) that has been filed by the Regents of the University of California based on this work.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chris Dames.

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  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Notes 1–8, Supplementary Figures 1–10, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary References

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