NETZSCH and NREL Announce Partnership for Rapid Development of Li-Ion Battery Testing Instrumentation

05 Mar 2013
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NETZSCH and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are pleased to announce a joint collaboration to develop an instrument designed to test the performance and safety of Large Format Li-Ion Batteries (LFLIB) used extensively in electric vehicles, airplanes, military application, as well as stationary power back-up and storage applications.

The instrumentation will be able to safely and accurately characterize heat output and efficiency of LFLIB, in varying temperature, pressure, load and use conditions, providing precise and critical information previously unavailable. Temperature has a strong impact on performance, safety, and life of batteries, therefore understanding and control of temperature is necessary to successfully operate lithium ion batteries, particularly for electric drive vehicles that are critical for a lowering dependence on imported oil and air pollution.

The new instrument is an isothermal calorimeter, a device that measures heat, based on leading, patent-pending technology developed by a team of NREL researchers. “We saw a real gap in the marketplace for accurate testing of the larger battery systems, stated Dr. Gilles Widawski, President of NETZSCH North America, LLC,” It was obvious that NREL’s technology, missing in the marketplace, could provide improved information on battery performance and safe system integration key for success in these growing application areas.” With better measurement of the heat signatures for LFLIB researchers can better understand how to enhance the chemistry to improve battery performance, life-time and to make them inherently safer using improved materials and chemistries.

Under funding from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, NREL has been working on battery thermal testing and calorimetry for over 15 years, developing numerous instruments and measuring heat generation from batteries for clients around the world. “It was clear from our success working with researchers and engineers involved in all aspects of Li-Ion battery development and their use, and feedback from the USABC battery developers that we had a first-rate calorimeter technology. We felt that this technology could be useful in the hand of scientists and engineers in many organizations and just needed a path to go from our laboratory prototypes to a commercial product,” remarks Dr. Ahmad Pesaran who is the Manager of the Battery and Energy Storage Research Group at NREL “NETZSCH has a proven track record of developing and commercializing calorimeters and thermal analysis tools to demand requirements. When NETZSCH approached us for collaboration, we felt it was a natural fit for our technology as they already offer battery testing systems in the market.”

NETZSCH and NREL have been working together under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) and licensing agreement to industrialize NREL’s isothermal battery calorimeter technology. The new calorimeter is currently under a rapid development and verification process and is expected to be released in the beginning of summer 2013. Based on initial testing done on the NREL prototype, this instrument is expected to provide data which is currently unavailable. “There is already a lot of excitement from the battery community,” added Mr. Peter Ralbovsky, NETZSCH’s Battery Application Specialist, “These practitioners can see the value in this type of instrumentation so they can design and engineer higher performing and safer systems in markets were battery failures are reported far too often.” NREL has already received a CO-Labs award for development of this isothermal battery calorimeter in October 2012 from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

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