Chroma's new 'green' battery test sytem

  • 30-Sep-2011 03:48 EDT
Chroma test.jpg

Taiwan-headquartered Chroma ATE Inc., a turnkey test and automation solution provider, plans to release a next-generation battery cell and module test system in late 2011.

Energy conservation is the byproduct of a next-generation regenerative charge/discharge cycler for testing battery cells and packs.

"This design uses lower operational power, reducing energy consumption while satisfying a wide range of test requirements," explained Galen Chou, Chroma ATE Inc. Deputy Director, Marketing Department, Test and Measurement Business Unit. "The new system replaces the traditional dc power supplies and electronic loads that were used in first-generation products."

Chroma's initial test instruments (power source and electronic loads) discarded 100% of discharged battery energy as heat.

Said John Tessitore, Director of Business Development for Chroma ATE (USA): "With this new regenerative system, up to 85% of the battery's discharge energy is sent back to the grid."

Chroma's first-generation solution was an integration of several components. "The previous system needed a power supply for charging," Tessitore said. "In order to overcome any leakage from the power supply during discharge, a diode was placed at the output of the battery-charging solution. An electronic load [dynamic load] was used to discharge the battery."

Chroma's latest battery test system uses a dc/dc bidirectional converter to charge/discharge the battery module/pack, and an ac/dc bidirectional converter for sinking or regenerating energy from the storage device back to the grid.

An electronic control unit sends commands and collects data—such as battery voltage, charge/discharge current, power, capacity, and temperature—from as many as 60 test channels. The test channels can operate independently or be paralleled for higher-current requirements.

Battery Pro, Chroma's proprietary software platform, enables real-time data analysis. Chou noted that the software tools can show the data in different graphic charts, and users can monitor or export any specific period of data from the overall testing process. Added Tessitore, "Our software tools also enable drive-cycle simulation, which can mimic a real-world road test without leaving the lab."

The system is designed for mid-voltage applications, such as the battery packs used for electric scooters and electric motorcycles, as well as EV, HEV, and PHEV battery modules. Chou said the company will develop high-voltage models for complete battery packs used in EVs, HEVs, and PHEVs.

According to Tessitore, the next-generation test product will be launched globally by the end of 2011, with delivery expected in the first quarter of 2012.

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