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Effect of ballistic impacts on batteries and the potential for injury


Introduction On military operations, ballistic impact damage is possible to lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries worn on the body by military personnel and the potential for exothermic reactions may result in injury. This paper investigated the effect of impact on batteries that might be worn in front or behind body armour.

Methods Li-ion batteries were subjected to ballistic impact both without and in combination with body armour using 7.62×39 mm ammunition (mean velocity=769 m/s) at charge levels up to 40%. The effect of penetrating impacts on charged batteries was also investigated using an outdoor range.

Results The backface signature due to ballistic impact was reduced by including a battery pack between fabric body armour and an armour plate, however the batteries were crushed and mechanically disrupted. Ballistic impacts on batteries mounted in front of an armour plate resulted in perforation of the batteries. Increases in temperature, fire and toxic gas emission were noted when batteries were penetrated by an impact.

Conclusions Batteries provided limited ballistic protection disproving the hypothesis that batteries could replace or enhance existing body armour solutions. Ballistic impact of charged batteries could lead to injury due to heat/flame and toxic discharge. It is recommended that batteries need to be carried in a position from which they can be rapidly removed from contact with the body.

  • body armour
  • batteries
  • injury

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