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White PaperTest & Measurement

Battery Failure Analysis


Failure analysis is the process of collecting and analyzing data to identify the root cause of a failure. The findings from a failure analysis are often used to determine corrective actions such as to prevent the failure of similar products, to improve the design of future products or to address liability claims. Independent third-party assistance is often sought during this process for expert advice, support of legal issues, or simply to obtain a neutral third-party perspective.

Due to the complex nature of batteries, a failure analysis of a battery-powered device may require expert knowledge across several scientific and engineering areas. Intertek has over 50 years of experience in providing independent third-party assistance for failure analysis of battery-powered devices.

Battery-powered devices can fail for a number of reasons. Fundamentally, the failure can be traced to battery/cell failure, device failure (external to the battery), or failure of the battery management control system which is either integrated into the battery itself or is a separate circuitry designed into the device. A battery or cell failure may be performance (e.g., the lifetime of the battery is not up to the specification), safety (e.g., a cell/battery overheating), or leakage related (e.g., the electrolyte starts to leak from the cell container).

The challenge of battery failure analysis is to unambiguously identify the problem’s root cause. Failure analysis involves the use and application of a variety of tools the selection of which requires years of experience and technical expertise. Failure analysis often involves investigating a complex combination of possibilities and conditions. The process ultimately points toward a specific root cause. In essence, a battery failure analysis involves data collection, analysis of data collected, and proving that the true root cause has been found by demonstrating the ability to create and eliminate the problem at will.

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