- Category: Battery Testing
- Publishing date: 28 February, 2022
- Author: The LabShare Team
Batteries are shaping our future. A clean, green, and sustainable world would be hard to imagine without the devices that aid transportation, store carbon-free energy, and fuel our economy. But what kind of regulations govern battery production today? What is expected of automotive batteries in the age of e-vehicles? How is the industry going digital, and which alternatives might emerge? Find out from our guide.
Testing standards for automotive battery
In recent years, we have witnessed a tremendous increase in a particular application of batteries. The market for electric (EV) and hybrid electric (HEV) vehicles has experienced explosive growth, and this tendency is bound to continue in the future. In consequence, there is a growing demand for automotive batteries. Nowadays, these devices also have to meet strict testing standards.
A key element of hardware product development is continuous product testing to maximize reliability, performance, and longevity. Testing can also reduce warranty claims and the time to market by making sure products meet all legal, industrial, and manufacturer requirements. But which regulations are in place in this field?
On the European market, the most significant standards include EN 62133-2 on secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes, as well as EN 62660-1-2-3 on secondary lithium-ion cells for the propulsion of electric road vehicles. In addition, EN 62282 regulates the standards for fuel cell technologies.
Product testing in Europe can prevent costly product recalls. It can also build trust in customers to know that batteries go through a rigorous inspection process, ensuring the highest product quality.
How to test automotive batteries?
Tests can first and foremost ensure that batteries do not pose a risk to people, even under extreme conditions. Safety and abuse tests expose the battery to extreme and non-standard operating conditions, which help with risk assessment. To this end, different technologies may be required in the electrical, chemical, corrosive, mechanical, and abusive domains, depending on the industry.
Some of the above tests also focus on durability to ensure hardware quality. These include vibration tests simulating various conditions, thermal or mechanical shock, mechanical integrity, and fire resistance tests. For e-vehicles, dynamic impact testing simulates an accident where the car body is deformed.
Other tests error-proof the battery's overcharge and over-discharge protection, over-temperature protection, and external short circuit protection by simulating incorrect use. Finally, charge/discharge cycling and calendar life tests can measure a battery's performance and lifetime.
Preventive testing can assess how safe, durable, and reliable the battery is. This way, hardware SMEs can identify countermeasures in the early stages of development to avoid delays in the final stages.
Environmental simulation: how to make sure batteries survive any environment?
Environmental battery tests ensure product safety. They are inevitable to meet international standards and thus gain widespread acceptance for the product. But what kind of battery performance tests can certify quality?
Whether designed for mobile use, or stationary application, batteries may be met with climate change and mechanical stress. These variations, however, should not have an impact on their functionality.
For manufacturers, hardware quality testing is an inevitable part of the product development process. Hardware SMEs can demonstrate the safety and reliability of their batteries by testing according to relevant global standards.
In addition, standards provide evidence that careful and rigorous testing has taken place during product development. Thus, developers can strengthen customer confidence which factors into product selection.
Preventive testing ensures that the batteries will withstand real-world conditions for future use and thus meet the expected quality and safety standards. It also helps to identify early design errors that may have occurred during the development process.
By spotting potential safety gaps, hardware startups can avoid costly redesign or recalls at a later juncture. Developers can also minimize liability risks and protect themselves against claims for damages.
What kind of environmental battery test should be employed?
Throughout the testing process, devices have to endure various conditions. These include temperature changes, corrosion, or vibration.
For instance, a material’s response to accelerated corrosion conditions is examined by exposure to salt fog, humidity, temperature, or drying. The laboratory employs dedicated exposure cabinets for neutral salt spray, condensing and non-condensing humidity, thermal shock, and other immersion tests.
Transport tests include drop, crush, or penetration testing. Vibration tests also belong in this category, utilizing resonance investigations, sine, random noise, or a combination thereof.
Climate and temperature tests (varying between cold, dry, and moist heat) employ a range of temperatures from -70 °C to +180 °C. In addition, electrical tests include overcharge/over-discharge protection, external short circuit protection, and over-temperature protection testing.
Other tests include numerous additional examinations, such as flammability, splash-proof, and ice water tests, immersion, altitude simulation, or dust testing.
Which standards apply to battery testing?
Tests are all governed by international standards.
European Standards pertain to various stages of product testing in Europe. ECE R100 Rev2, for instance, is a European requirement that specifies all tests that must be carried out on lithium batteries installed on 4-wheel electric vehicles.
The United Nations also issues standards that impact production in member states. UN38.3, for instance, is the prevailing UN standard that lithium batteries must meet to receive certification for safe transport.
In addition, there are various internationally renowned standard organizations, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or the International Electrotechnical Commission. Take IEC 62281-2019, issued by the latter on the safety of primary and secondary lithium cells and batteries during transport.
Which factors can impact the success and speed of testing?
Geographical distance, lack of capacity, and hefty prices have so far limited the extent to which manufacturers could test their products. Yet thanks to the sharing economy and digitization, this has all changed.
Thorough and continuous testing provides a seamless market entry for any product. But what to consider before testing?
A state-of-the-art testing process calls for the use of modern tools, as well as the expertise of hardware testing providers. Therefore, manufacturers must find the best-equipped test labs that suit their needs.
LabShare, the hardware testing marketplace allows you to browse labs globally based on location, price, capacity, and more. Register now and make sure your battery meets the highest quality standards.
Battery manufacturers are going digital, but how exactly?
Digitization and the sharing economy are transforming various industrial sectors, and battery manufacturing is no exception. The automotive and energy industries can massively benefit from innovative technologies. But how can existing processes be renewed?
This year sees an ever-growing global demand for lead-acid batteries. High-performance rechargeable batteries are also at a premium, not only in the automotive but also in the electricity industry. Battery-based storage power plants allow for a seamless transition to sustainable energy. No wonder, then, that manufacturers will highly benefit from increased productivity.
At the Automotive Battery Conference (AABC) in Mainz, IQ Power Licensing AG presented the concept of a modern, industry-4.0 battery factory. This fully computer-controlled technology relies heavily on the automation of production and the network communication of machines.
According to experts, companies can save significantly with digital process optimization and in-house recycling. These technologies require half as much labor and 60 percent less production time as before. In addition, companies can go green, cut down on energy use, and save up to 25 per-cent with automation.
The manufacturing department can also include a recycling department, where materials such as lead are reused, thus saving on additional storage and shipping costs.
Overall, digitization is critical to the development of batteries. It will also increase the transparency and traceability of materials and help optimize energy storage systems and e-mobility.
A passport for batteries
Luckily, governing bodies have also caught up with the trend of digitization. A proposed EU regulation now sets out several requirements for batteries, including their design. It also prescribes measurements to determine the size of the carbon footprint they produce and the amount of recycled material they contain.
Information requirements for batteries are also on the rise. An element of this is the introduction of the GBA (Global Battery Alliance) Battery Passport, a digital representation of a battery that conveys information about all applicable ESG and lifecycle requirements.
Emerging alternatives: new technologies that might defeat lithium-ion in the long run
Innovation is never-ending in the field of batteries, which is good news to those who take issue with the mining and recycling of lithium-ion batteries. They power phones, computers, and electric vehicles, but there is no guarantee we can mine enough raw material to keep up with demand, not to mention their environmental costs.
Luckily, there are several alternatives in the wings. A viable option is zinc batteries, an emerging new technology supported by a growing number of investors and hardware manufacturers.
Take Zinc battery developer Enzinc, a company that has found new third-party product development partners. The company has embarked on a confidential partnership with a global battery manufacturer, a leading electric bike brand, and an international waste and recycling provider.
Enzinc’s zinc micro sponge anode will power a family of high-performance re-chargeable batteries. The anode’s structure allows the battery to provide more than three times the energy and have three times the lifespan of lead-acid batter-ies while costing about the same.
The battery is entirely recyclable, much safer to use than lead- or lithium-based batteries, and uses zinc, a common material with no supply chain constraints. It also operates through a wider temperature range than lithium-based batteries.
Safe, affordable, and sustainable energy storage
The competitive CalTestBed initiative is funded through California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program to speed the commercialization of clean energy technologies. It funds third-party production testing at world-class facilities at nine University of California campuses and one national laboratory.
The program is led by New Energy Nexus, in partnership with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The battery performance test, among others, will take place at the University of California’s Riverside facilities through a CalTestBed award of $292,000.
“Our teaming partners will ensure that our battery testing protocols reflect many of the use cases expected for advanced batteries with ‘Enzinc Inside’,” said Michael Burz, Enzinc founder and CEO. “The CalTestBed award will enable us to test how batteries with our exclusive zinc microsponge anode perform in key applications including e-bikes and other electric mobility, stationary power back up, and grid-tied and microgrid energy storage.”
Fuel cells are another option. An already existing model splits protons from water which are stored inside the battery. Oxygen is then fed through a machine to release power by combining with the protons to produce water and electricity.
Another type of battery is based on electrolytes, made of glass and spiked with sodium ions. Every material needed is easy to source, and the inventor claims the glass battery can outperform lithium-based batteries. While still in the early stages, this is one battery to watch.
An alternative is lithium’s chemical cousin, sodium, which has almost the same chemistry, but none of the limitations. Another ion, magnesium can carry a greater charge than either lithium or sodium. Thus, one day it might provide the basis for a safer alternative.
Finally, liquid or flow batteries work on a similar principle to regular ones, but all the components are dissolved in liquids. This fuel could be pumped into an electric car, just like petrol. However, the electrical charge makes the liquid electrolyte sticky and difficult to pump.