It takes a lot of abuse to get a cell to explode, but it's possible.
This video uses knives, hammers, guns and more to see if lithium-ion battery cells will explode in some extreme torture tests. The video specifically references Tesla batteries, though it appears these cells are just generic 18650 lithium-ion cells, similar but not identical to the cells used in the Model S and Model X. Watch to see the results.
But first, a word of warning. Punctured lithium-ion battery cells can become quite dangerous. Not only will they throw off sparks (which could ignite something else nearby) but also they can remain hot for a very long period of time after first being punctured. Therefore (and as the video description states too) we don't advise you to attempt anything seen in the video. Rather, we're just sharing it here as a sort of entertaining experiment. One last note is that although this test is conducted on 18650 Tesla lithium-ion battery cells, the reaction would be similar with any li-ion cell of the same chemistry.
Back to the video and what's within. As you'll see in this battery cell torture test video, the lithium-ion cells are put through various tests that are aimed at damaging the battery. The tests range from dropping the cell in water, to submerging the cell in gasoline and even to shooting the battery with a .22 caliber bullet.
In several of the tests, the batteries show no sign of damage, but in some of the tests in which the cells get struck and pierced, there's quite a show of sparks and ignition.
Surprisingly though, the cell withstands the impact of a bullet and holds up to being blasted with gunpowder. That's quite amazing actually. What do you think the result would be if gunpower was lit near a tankful of gasoline?
Video description via Ryan and David on YouTube:
WE BLEW UP TESLA BATTERIES!!
Please do not attempt this at home (or at work, or at your mom’s house). This experiment was done on private property in a remote area.