Industries

Towards Responsible Battery Production

2021-05-20  |  6 min read 

With great power, comes great responsibility. Movie buffs will know that famous line comes from Spiderman’s Uncle Ben. At the Global Battery Alliance (GBA), the 70-member strong advocates of sustainable battery value chain take their mission equally seriously as the world hungers for more powerful batteries.

GBA’s aim is to help the industry produce these batteries responsibly and sustainably – lowering emissions, eliminating human rights violations, ensuring safe working conditions across the value chain, and improving repurposing and recycling.

For automotive OEMs and leading battery makers, the responsibilities to fulfil these goals are getting heavier. Besides attaining the vision of a responsible and sustainable battery value chain, they need to contend with market demands for more powerful, longer lasting, and cheaper electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

The modern EV sports anywhere from a few hundred pouch cells to several thousand cylindrical cells. These cells are organized into modules and packs, and the entire battery system is very much the heart of the EV.

Each stage of the EV battery creation must be tested and validated.
Each stage of the EV battery creation must be tested and validated.

To build a performance battery, developers must consider cell chemistry, energy density, its eventual charging capabilities, output characteristics, how it is designed with its second life planned ahead, and its eventual recycling with optimal economic and environmental responsibility.

Industry Invests in Battery Test

As batteries are at the core of EV development, automotive OEMs and major battery companies are implementing rigorous testing, including design verification, standard operating procedure, and production verification to ensure high mileage and safety.

For instance, the BMW Group is using test technology from Keysight Technologies for its Battery Cell Competence Centre in Munich, Germany. In the collaboration, Keysight’s Scienlab Battery Test Systems provide precise measurement for characterizing the cells, modules and packs at various stages of development.

To enable operational efficiencies, the battery test platform uses Keysight’s PathWave Lab Operations for Battery Test, which ensures an optimized test lab operation by managing resources, hardware and information.

This combination supports the planning and execution of test procedures including schedule definition, management, control and monitoring of the battery test systems and device under test. It also analyses test results as well as the overall efficiency of the lab to identify potential improvements.

Earlier in April 2021, Chongqing Vehicle Testing Research Inst itute in China also adopted Keysight's battery charging and discharging test equipment to verify battery characteristics in electric vehicles to advance the development of e-mobility.

The collaboration will provide testing services including battery cell, module and system-level testing throughout the battery lifecycle to ensure they meet the requirements of electric vehicle energy storage systems.

Software Helps Boost Transparency and Quality

Software tools form an indispensable backbone to provide information and manage processes that help to create more responsible battery products.

At the battery level, to ensure safety and performance, developers need to measure and characterize parameters such as safety, function, durability, aging, and environmental effects on the battery performance etc. In addition, they must comply with industry standards such as ISO, DIN EN and SAE.

Software tools such as the Scienlab Energy Storage Discover help to meet these requirements for different battery types by allowing time-synchronous control of all battery test systems for cells, modules, and packs, as well as all test environment components.

At the laboratory level, workflow efficiencies, data accessibility and transparency, as well as traceability are important considerations as battery testing operations involve thousands of devices under test at any point in time.

Typical Workflow for Battery Test Operations
Typical Workflow for Battery Test Operations

Keysight’s PathWave Lab Operations for Battery Test is helping lab managers to modernize their test workflows and replace manual tracking and legacy processes. This web-based lab management platform allows the lab managers to access and assess testing operations across remote sites.

This powerful platform can also improve test throughput for all the cells and batteries that need to be validated, to fulfil testing requirements on-schedule, and to optimize test asset utilization. Equally importantly, it enables data integrity and traceability, so issues can be more easily identified and addressed as part of the responsible battery production. 

As technology evolves, it’s heartening that the combination of vision, mission, and technology can and must come together, from the single entity level, be it the raw materials supplier, battery maker, car maker, or test solution provider, right through the entire ecosystem. Then only can such an alliance truly achieve the goal of creating a sustainable battery value chain, and contribute towards a more sustainable energy source for our planet.

Keen to know how Keysight’s Scienlab Battery Test Solutions can help enable a holistc approach to battery development and validation, from cell, to module and pack? View this video.