3D Simulation of Battery Fire on a Large Steel Frame Structure due to Depleted Battery Piles


  • Nicole Braxtan Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, US
  • Jorge Nunez Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, US
  • Shenen Chen Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, US
  • Tiefu Zhao Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, US
  • Lynn Harris Deutsche Bahn, Raleigh, NC, US
  • Dave Cook Rail Propulsion Systems, Fullerton, CA, US




Lithium ion batteries (LIB) can rupture and result in thermal runaway and battery fires. In the process of transporting lithium ion batteries using trains, the massive collection of batteries can cause train fire and pose significant danger to the public. This is especially critical when the fire occurs amid a heavily populated metropolitan environment. This paper reports the 3D analysis of a warehouse with possible train fire due to LIB rupture and the fire propagation at a rail yard. Six critical fire cases with the battery train in close vicinity to the warehouse were considered. The six fire cases are the worst-case scenarios of a Monte Carlo simulation of different fire cases that may occur to an actual steel storage facility at the Capital Railyard, Raleigh, North Carolina. A 3D finite element (FE) frame model was constructed for the steel warehouse and the most critical fire cases were simulated. The results indicated that several structural components of the warehouse would experience large stresses and deflections during the simulated battery fires and resulting in instability to the structure. Specifically, members of the roof frame represent the most critical elements and that the members can result in large deformations as early as 4 minutes after the fire starts. Furthermore, effective utilization of fire protection can delay somewhat the fire effects and extend time to failure to 45 minutes and in one of the simulated cases, prevent structural instability. Thus, fire from LIB waste transport using train is a very realistic problem due to the thermal runaway, and the analysis performed in current study can be used as a preventive investigation technique for buildings that may be exposed to the train fire risk.


Lithium ion battery; Train fire; Propagation; Structural safety


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How to Cite

Braxtan, N., Nunez, J., Chen, S., Zhao, T., Harris, L., & Cook, D. (2022). 3D Simulation of Battery Fire on a Large Steel Frame Structure due to Depleted Battery Piles. Journal of Architectural Environment & Structural Engineering Research, 5(3), 34–51. https://doi.org/10.30564/jaeser.v5i3.4985


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