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The Future of Electric Vehicles: Environmental Testing for Large Format Batteries

electric car charging battery

From a consumer and manufacturer standpoint, the future of electric vehicles dominates conversations in the transportation industry. With an emphasis on reducing carbon emissions to combat climate change, automakers, aviation, and even shipping manufacturers set internal goals and face external pressure to increase their production of EVs.

Across the automotive industry, major manufacturers are racing to develop affordable cars that enable drivers to travel extended distances on a single charge. Arguably, the key component to achieving that level of success is implementing longer-lasting, faster-charging lithium-ion batteries—and we’re getting closer to that reality. 

Researchers have created designs that lighten the battery load in EVs while increasing performance. As the physical design of the battery evolves, so does the way we test them. Associated Environmental Systems has developed ATPHEAVY battery fixtures to accommodate large format batteries and high-density testing. They’re safe, more efficient, and produce accurate results that can lead to lasting change in the EV industry.


EV Goals for a Sustainable Future

California Governor Gavin Newsome made headlines when he announced in late 2020 that all new cars and trucks sold in his state would be zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

The consumer market for EVs is expected to exceed 26 million cars sold by 2030

Municipalities have taken significant steps to invest in these vehicles as well. Toronto, as of December 2020, was running 59 electric buses, the largest fleet of its kind in North America, with a goal of having a zero-emissions fleet by 2040. Individual automakers have set their own EV goals as have a number of jurisdictions around the country and world. 

Yet the current state of the EV market suggests there’s still a lot of work to be done. Despite an increase in overall sales of EVs, they still made up just 9% of global consumer car sales in 2021, and 4% in the United States. There are a number of reasons for slower progress on the EV front. One is surely the cost to consumers, both in purchasing new vehicles (average cost of $66,000 according to Kelley Blue Book) and also in replacing gas-powered autos that operate well past 100,000 miles. Another reason, though, is something called ‘range anxiety.’ 

Drivers fear getting stranded when their battery charge runs out, far from charging stations. While the availability of charging stations continues to grow, there’s still much to account for in terms of climate conditions, urban vs highway driving (the former requires stops and starts that drain the battery), and the effectiveness of the battery over time. 

Faster-charging, longer-lasting batteries mitigate the range issue as well as open the door for other innovations to boost the viability of widespread EV use.

Recent shifts in the design of EV batteries highlight companies’ efforts to boost performance. The hardpack, once the standard, has wiring inside and out, connecting hundreds of smaller cylindrical batteries to the car. The system is sturdy and heavy, adding significant weight to the car and limiting customization possibilities. 

Pouch and prismatic cells are growing in popularity. They charge faster, compact more energy, and offer flexibility to customize for different models—from sedans to SUVs and trucks.


Testing Large Format Batteries: ATPHEAVY & ATPHEAVY ADAPTABLE

Although the potential of large format batteries is evident, they require rigorous testing before the cars they power hit the market. 

The testing is similar to that of electronics. Engineers conduct stress screening to push the batteries to their limits, identify breaking points, and design safety measures to prevent failures. In doing so, they work to understand the true performance of the batteries to set expectations for consumers and make any necessary changes to the design.

Because of the unstable nature of the materials involved, the testing can be dangerous and time-consuming. There’s always a threat of a thermal event, and even one defect can disrupt your product and harm your chamber. However, if you can safely test a significant number of cells at once, you’ll draw ever closer to delivering a better-performing EV. 

That’s where AES comes in with industry-leading fixtures. 

ATPHEAVY is a fixture for high-amperage testing up to 1000 amps. ATPHEAVY Adaptable, a fixture equipped with universal terminals to switch between battery types, can be integrated with our SC-512-SAFE, a benchtop chamber designed specifically for safe, efficient battery testing:

  • Channels and wiring are clearly labeled and routed through the igus track to reduce your setup time and get you testing safely sooner.
  • Easy-sliding shelves 
  • The built-in Battery Interface Board (BIB) ensures a secure connection and accurate charge and discharge readings and data collection. 
  • Operate the environmental test chamber and battery cycler from one control panel for synchronous operational activity, and collect correlated temperature and cycling data in one location. 
  • Remotely monitor your battery test chamber from anywhere in the world. 
  • Optimized to AES SAFE,a new standard of battery safety features are available to meet your test severity, including nitrogen purge, inert gas pressure vent, ventilation blower, and more.

In addition to more efficient testing, AES offers service plans for the life of the chamber. Its support team can help you address any maintenance issues to help you maintain a consistent testing schedule.

The faster-charging, longer-lasting battery will change the future for the better. Ask AES how to bring an industry-leading ATPHEAVY fixture to your lab.