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The reliability of batteries in the automotive sector

Angelantoni Test Technologies has gained an extensive experience on lithium-ion battery testing and can supply a large range of standard and custom designed chambers for the testing of cells, modules and packs.

The prevalence of electric cars has grown rapidly over the past decade, with the global stock of electric cars surpassing 5 million in 2018. [1] Forecasts indicate that electric vehicles on the road will reach 900 million by 2040. [2] That is, billions of people will benefit from this new means of transport in the near future. Making it reliable is of the utmost importance for the safety of every single passenger.

Lithium-ion batteries are energy-dense devices in which large currents flow between an anode and a cathode immersed in a liquid electrolyte. These store all the energy necessary for the vehicle to travel hundreds of kilometers and are exposed to considerable mechanical, electrical and environmental stresses. To ensure that no failures occur under these working conditions, batteries must undergo extensive testing before they can be marketed.

In fact, in severe operating conditions, undesirable events such as formation of dendrites, breakdown of the separator, generation of heat, exothermic chemical reactions can occur inside the battery. These often lead to low-severity consequences that pose no risk to the car's passengers. However, in some cases, serious consequences such as fire, rupture or explosion can occur. Fire is typically associated with the phenomenon of "thermal leak", a series of self-sustaining exothermic electrochemical reactions that lead to an uncontrolled rise in temperature. In turn, rupture can be caused by the formation of unwanted gases inside the battery, increasing the pressure over what can be tolerated or discharged.

Failures are normal events during the development phase and as such the safety of the technicians involved in the tests must be guaranteed at all levels. Angelantoni Test Technologies has gained an extensive knowledge and experience on lithium-ion battery testing, developing dedicated safety concepts to ensure that the development of these devices can take place at full capacity with the minimum risk for its customers.

[1] International Energy Agency, Global EV Outlook 2019.

[2] JRC Science for Policy Report, Li-ion batteries for mobility and stationary storage applications – Scenarios for costs and market growth, 2018.