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NREL Blows Up Batteries to Make the World Safer (Text Version)

Making lithium-ion batteries safer for earthlings and astronauts is something NREL excels at. In this video you’ll meet Matt Keyser, a senior energy storage engineer who is on a mission to improve the thermal performance of batteries for electric vehicles, consumer gadgets, and technology used by NASA in outer space. Matt and his team study battery failure using innovative technologies, such as the award-winning Battery Internal Short Circuit (ISC) Device that can precisely identify weak spots in battery cells. This cutting-edge research helps battery manufacturers develop advanced materials that can deliver superior results.

Meet Matt.

Matt works at NREL.

Matt blows things up.

[We see very large explosions]

Not like that.

Matt blows up lithium-ion batteries to test them for safety. 

Matt and his team created a device that's implanted into a battery to intentionally trigger an internal short circuit.

The same malfunction that causes these kinds of problems.

[We see a battery pack on fire]

By deliberately triggering the malfunction, NREL can find and fix the problems that cause it.

[We see a Zen-like man with clouds around him while we hear calm chanting sounds]

It's a revolutionary step forward from somewhat less state-of-the-art methods traditionally used to test short circuits.

[We see a series of monkey shots: a monkey smashing rocks, a monkey trying to contain a water leak, and a monkey jumping through hoops]

The device can be activated on demand, in any precise location of the battery cell, to pinpoint trouble spots before batteries end up on store shelves.

And with these batteries being used in products ranging from smart phones to electric vehicles to space suits, finding the fault before the device is on the market is a pretty big deal.

Thanks to NREL's ingenuity, rooted in fundamental science, industry can design better, safer batteries before the tech hits space, or the streets.

This provides the confidence that batteries, whether used in everyday electronics to outer space, will deliver reliable, safe, and strong performance when needed most. 

[We see Matt and the researchers raise their arms in victory]

NREL: Helping safely power our world, one controlled explosion at a time.

[We see NREL’s info including nrel.gov/batteries directing people where they can learn more about energy storage]