Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Amy M. Marconnet

Committee Chair

Amy M. Marconnet

Committee Member 1

Timothy S. Fisher

Committee Member 2

Liang Pan


Increasing usage and recent accidents due to lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries exploding or catching on fire has inspired research on the characterization and thermal management of these batteries. In cylindrical 18650 cells, heat generated during the battery's charge/discharge cycle is poorly dissipated to the surrounding through its metallic case due to the poor thermal conductivity of the jelly roll, which is spirally wound with many interfaces between electrodes and the polymeric separator. This work presents a technique to measure the thermal conduction across the metallic case-plastic separator interface, which ultimately limits heat transfer out of the jelly roll.

The polymeric separator and metallic case are harvested from discharged commercial 18650 battery cells for thermal testing. A miniaturized version of the reference bar method enables measurements of the interface resistance between the case and the separator by establishing a temperature gradient across a multilayer stack consisting of two reference layers of known thermal conductivity and the case-separator sample. The case-separator interfacial conductance is reported for a range of case temperatures and interface pressures. The mean thermal conductance across the case-separator interface is 670 ± 275 W/(m2K) and no significant temperature or pressure dependence is observed. The effective thermal conductivity of the battery stack is measured to be 0.27 W/m/K and 0.32 W/m/K in linear and radial configurations, respectively.

Many techniques for fabricating battery electrodes involve coating particles of the active materials on metallic current collectors. The impact of mechanical shearing on the resultant thermal properties of these packed particle beds during the fabrication process has not yet been studied. Thus, the final portion of this thesis designs and validates a measurement system to measure the effects of mechanical shearing on the thermal conductivity of packed granular beds. This system simultaneously shears the sample while applying a temperature gradient across the particle bed, enabling thermal conductivity measurements using a radial equivalent of the conventional reference bar method.

Results of this research, which includes characterization of thermal conductance across the rate limiting separator-case interface, will help improve the design and reliability of lithium ion batteries. Cells of larger dimension and capacity could also be achieved by the improved understanding of thermal transport across the microscopic electrode stack. Better analytic models of the thermal response of the batteries could be constructed, by taking into account the interfacial conductance and thermal conductivity of the electrodes measured in this work. This is of particular importance in the current circumstances, where accidents and safety issues related to lithium ion batteries are on the increase.