TÜV SÜD America busy abusing batteries

  • 16-Dec-2009 04:10 EST
AV 900.jpg
"With the addition of the AeroVironment AV 900 [shown], we are one of the few companies that can do vibration, thermal cycling, and battery cycling simultaneously from battery cells to full battery packs," said TÜV SÜD America's Douglas Hughes.

A global testing and certification firm is adding equipment for battery testing at two of its Michigan facilities.

"Two years ago we did one battery testing project a month, and now we are doing about 15 battery tests every month. During that time span the requests have gone from basic thermal, EMC or vibration tests, to various combinations of thermal, vibration, shock, corrosion, EMC, life-cycle, abuse, crush, drop, water penetration, altitude, dust, charge/discharge, over-temperature, and rollover," said Steve Dykstra, Vice President of Testing for TÜV SÜD America Inc. 

While single-focused tests remain relevant, the need to address simultaneous parameters puts another demand into the battery testing equation. Simply put: the increasing number of hybrid-electric vehicles coming to market in the U.S. and the number of plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles getting closer to production-launch mean automakers and battery manufacturers have a lot of testing to do.

"With relatively short time frames to bring vehicles to market, testing in parallel is going to be important to complement what is already being done by the OEMs and battery manufacturers," said J. J. Livingstone, Director of Sales for Electric Vehicle Test Equipment for AeroVironment.

TÜV SÜD America's three Michigan facilities include 15 vibration systems, 55 environmental chambers, and five EMC chambers for testing batteries and other products. The addition of AeroVironment test equipment at TÜV SÜD America's Auburn Hills and Holland, MI, sites upgrade the available resources for the company, which functions as an independent, third-party source for testing batteries used in hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, full electric, fuel cell, and other vehicles.

"Most of our customers have the capability to do durability and life-cycle battery tests in-house, but they sometime don't have the capacity to do everything in-house or they don't want to do everything in-house," said Dykstra.

Case in point: abuse testing.

"With abuse testing, it's about simulating a condition that you hope never happens. The testing is needed to verify that a fail-safe system actually works," said Dykstra.

Because abuse tests are difficult to simulate, testing is often done using a prototype system.

"Abuse tests need to be done within a relatively compressed time frame, and the testing needs to be done within a very tightly controlled safety environment. Right now, we're probably one of the very few independent labs doing battery pack abuse testing," said Dykstra.

TÜV SÜD America's abuse, durability, and life-cycle battery tests are done to manufacturer requirements and industry standards, including FreedomCar Battery Durability and Abuse Testing and SAE J2464 Rechargeable Energy Storage System Safety and Abuse Testing.

In addition to purchasing equipment for battery testing purposes, many of TÜV SÜD America's abuse test machines are built in-house, according to Douglas Hughes, TÜV SÜD America's Sales Manager–East Region Testing. TÜV SÜD America has 10 testing locations across North America. Its three Michigan testing facilities—known as EST Testing Solutions until being acquired by TÜV SÜD America three years ago—specialize in automotive, mechanical, and electrical testing.

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