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Rapid temperature-responsive thermal regulator for safety management of battery modules

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Abstract

Effective thermal safety management relies on the thermal conductivity of interlayer materials, yet current designs lack the needed responsiveness for both performance and safety. Here we design a thermal-switching material with high switching ratio from thermal conduction to thermal insulation state to address this predicament. The designed thermal-switching material exhibits a wide temperature range for heat conduction (1.33 W m−1 K−1 at room temperature) and can transform to an adiabatic state within 30 s (0.1 W m−1 K−1 at around 100 °C) when heated. When applied as cell-to-cell interlayers for a module with four 50 Ah nickel–cobalt–manganese lithium-ion cells, the material not only ensures a uniform temperature distribution under normal working conditions, but more importantly prevents 80% of the heat transmission from thermal runaway, effectively avoiding catastrophic battery explosion. We believe that this thermally responsive material design will ensure safety and high performance throughout the lifespan of high-energy-density battery modules.

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Fig. 1: Schematic illustration of TSM design.
Fig. 2: Optical and SEM images of the TSM.
Fig. 3: Thermal properties and switching performance of the TSM.
Fig. 4: TR propagation test and thermal management experiment of TSM with a four-LIB module.
Fig. 5: TR propagation test of high-energy LIB modules.

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Data availability

The data supporting the findings of this study are available within the paper, Supplementary Information and Source data. Source data are provided with this paper.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (LD21E070001), National Key R&D Program of China (2023YFB2408202, 2021YFB2401800), National Natural Science Foundation of China (52077113), Beijing Natural Science Foundation (3232046), National Natural Science Foundation for Excellent Young Scholars (51722703) and State Grid Corporation of China (5500-201999527A-0-0-00).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

Y. Yang and J.L. conceptualized the research and contributed to supervision of research, paper preparation and revision. J. Wang contributed to the experimental design, material preparation, characterization analysis and original draft preparation. X.F. contributed to the experimental design and original draft preparation. Y. Yu contributed to data collection, data analysis and paper revisions. M.Z. contributed to writing of the original draft, paper review and editing. H.H., Y.X. and J. Wu contributed to the paper review and editing.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Ying Yang or Jun Lu.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

Y. Yang and J. Wang filed a patent related to the fabrication of TSM submitted by Tsinghua University (Y. Yang and J. Wang are inventors, CN202211333875.4, granted patent application). The other authors declare no competing interests.

Peer review

Peer review information

Nature Energy thanks Zhenan Bao and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Notes 1–3, Figs. 1–20, Table 1 and References.

Supplementary Video 1

TR propagation test for 1 Ah cell.

Supplementary Video 2

TR propagation test for 50 Ah cell.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 3

Source data for Fig. 3a,b,d,f.

Source Data Fig. 4

Source data for Fig. 4a,b,d,g.

Source Data Fig. 5

Source data for Fig. 5b,c.

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Wang, J., Feng, X., Yu, Y. et al. Rapid temperature-responsive thermal regulator for safety management of battery modules. Nat Energy (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-024-01535-5

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