What Happens When You Cut Into A Tesla Battery Cell?


Don’t try this at home.

A wise man once noted there are a few things one should never do. Things like pulling on Superman’s cape or spitting into the wind, for example. Now, we would like to add a new item to this list: don’t drill into a Tesla battery cell. As you can see in the video below, tweeted out by Ben Sullins of Teslanomics fame, there is a good chance it will combust, and mayhem may ensue.

The short bit of footage was tweeted out along with the text “What happens when you cut into a Tesla battery cell? Fun at @EVWestDotCom.” We take it, then, that the TeslaTuber was visiting the EV West electric vehicle conversion shop in San Marcos, California, north of San Diego.

Known for having fun while creating awesome electric vehicles, the folks here haven’t thrown caution completely to the wind while performing this “scientific” experiment. Performed in a wide open space, the person drilling into a cylindrical cell from a Tesla battery pack –presumably an 18650-type cell — is wearing some face protection. We also note that the camera is on a stand, so as not to endanger a videographer.

After being pierced, the cell appears to short out causing a rapid release of stored energy. Unconstrained by a physical container, the cell launches itself into the air, spinning and spitting sparks as the igniter attempts to jump back out of the way. We saw similar, possibly even more dramatic, fireworks recently after the Rich Rebuilds crew overcharged a Tesla battery module in its “princess car.”

Obviously, this is something people should not try at home. Things have a way of going wrong at the worst possible moment and the next thing you know, someone’s received physical injuries or burned down a car or structure. Better, we think, to just watch the video below of others tempting fate and remain safe. Enjoy!


Categories: Battery Tech, Tesla, Videos

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21 Comments on "What Happens When You Cut Into A Tesla Battery Cell?"

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It’s widely know that they fail the nail test too. Gotta get the energy density first.

I find this to be much more exciting. https://youtu.be/T6VKxmUPb3g?t=60

Really makes you appreciate the ton of work Tesla has put in to isolate, protect, and thermally manage each cell in their battery packs.

they don’t manage each cell.

Why don’t you post videos from all other manufactures you can find? I remember falling asleep watching the puncture test on the Leaf battery….i’m sure you can find others.

Agreed, it would be very interesting to get some data on this sort of thing. Maybe the Nissan LEAF puncture test was done when the battery was discharged, but so far not one battery fire from a Nissan LEAF that I know of, and all that from a battery with ZERO active battery cooling!

Really? No Leaf fires. Perhaps you should use Google. Three on page one.

And, BTW, active cooling has absolutely nothing to do with whether a car has battery fires. Also, a small battery is less likely to catch fire. To date, Nissan has produced relatively small batteries.

Puncture an empty battery – nothing.

Puncture an empty gas can – you won’t fall asleep.

Yup, if it’s an empty plastic can (which most are nowadays), nothing.

Pretty sure modern Leaf batteries would also turn into fireworks when punctured. The original had a very low density battery…

depends a lot at what State of Charge is the cell , the more energy is in the cell the more violent is the reaction. A 0V cell is almost harmless

Try it out yourself. You’d be surprised what some cells do when they drop to < 2.0V. 0% SOC, should be safe, right?

This is nothing new and is due to battery chemistry – not because the uncooled Leaf battery is somehow superior. The 18650 cells my company uses must pass a nail puncture test but they have lower capacity and discharge capability.

I know of 2 people in a crashed BMW that burned to death just a couple of weeks ago – never even made it to the national news. Everybody including Hollywood expects a crashed ICE to blow up or burn up. They even burn up without any crashes.

There’s always one bloke who chooses to be a candidate for the Darwin Award

Helps to keep our gene pool strong…

This is why you really should never put vape pens with these batteries in them into your luggage on airplanes or other modes… in an unpressurized airline cargo/ luggage compartment

You do know that the cargo hold is pressurized with the cabin, right? The passenger floor cannot hold the pressure difference.

“What Happens When You Cut Into A Tesla Battery Cell?”

It’s all fun and games until…


Another candidate for the Darwin Award.

Do not throw firecrackers in the gas tank.

This would happen to any battery, I have personally done it to cell phone batteries… The only Tesla-specific thing in this article seems to be that it was a 18650 cell in the video, which happens to be the kind of cell Tesla uses in their cars, also what the new Dyson V10 cordless vacuum uses, and what is inside my laptop, and many cordless lawnmowers….
You know what kind of videos should be made, cutting into LiFePO4 cells, they are quite stable, even if you abuse them by drilling into them, the worst they will do is spew out a lot of smoke, but they won’t explode, and they won’t fly off in the air. Many hobbyist/DIY EV conversions use LiFePO4.