LG Chem develops advanced plastic materials that prevent battery’s thermal runaway

With its own technology and manufacturing methods, LG Chem has developed flame-retardant engineering plastic material that prevents deformation by heat. Thermal runaway, a main cause of fire in electric vehicle batteries, is a phenomenon where battery cell suffers stresses from various origins and heats up subsequently. Flames arise once battery’s internal temperature rises above a certain level due to short circuit such as overvoltage and over discharge. Lithium-ion battery has high reactivity to water, which makes it difficult to extinguish it with water in case of fire.

LG Chem’s newly developed special flame retardant is a high-functional engineering plastic material that consists of various material groups such as polyphenylene oxide (PPO), polyamide (PA), and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT). Compared to general flame-retardant plastics, the new LG material can block heat for a longer period when it is applied to electric vehicle’s battery pack cover thanks to its excellent heat resistance. The material also has a superb dimensional stability that can continue to maintain its shape despite temperature changes.

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As per LG Chem’s in-house test results, the material can block flame propagation caused by thermal runaway more than 400 seconds in 1,000 degrees. This is 45 times better than general flame-retardant plastics. LG Chem’s new engineering plastic material can be applied to battery pack covers so that it can delay combustion period in case of fire and prevent flame from spreading. This will help secure the time needed to evacuate drivers and put out a fire.

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To meet the customers’ needs, LG Chem continued its R&D since 2009 and did not give up. It eventually led to the development of the world’s best special flame-retardant material applicable to battery packs. This year, LG Chem has completed building a system required for mass production and plans to initiate its full-scale production starting 2023 in accordance with the customer’s schedule.