Sandia National Laboratories researchers have made use of all possible means to test batteries beyond their limits.
They have so far crushed them, pierced them, roasted them, shot them with lasers, overcharged and even over-discharged them, soaked them in salt water and short circuited them.
If this wasn’t enough, the researchers have now used a new Sandia indoor tower to drop 200 pounds or more on the out-matched lithium-ion cells.
The goal here is to learn even more about how batteries respond to stress, contends Sandia battery-abuse testing engineer Chris Grosso.
“This becomes our ninth way of killing a battery. It hits with so much force that so far we are just chopping the batteries in half.”
“As far as we know nobody in the U.S. has done any drop tests for impact testing like this,” opines Sandia mechanical engineer June Stanley.
The data gleaned from such tests will aid the industry in developing safer, more reliable batteries with more efficient performance.
It will also help in responding to emergencies, such as electric-vehicle crashes, notes Stanley.
“An impact test like this is more real world, more realistic to what would happen. The test can give us a better understanding for first responders and how they handle an emergency.”
“It can also be beneficial for industry researching and developing new technology,” she contends.
According to the scientists, the new drop tower which looms inside a hangar-type building, can be easily vented and cleared if there’s smoke from a battery fire.
They control the tower remotely and watch the action on monitors inside a trailer parked about 30 yards away.
The team has so far tested single-cell lithium-ion batteries and a 12-pack of such batteries taped together.
Grosso points out that it’s the itch to push batteries past their limits that will ultimately push development.
With more data available, developers can design next-gen energy storage devices with improved performance, reliability and safety.
Image and content: Randy Montoya/Sandia National Laboratories