Batteries are evolving as quickly as technology is evolving. From mobile devices like smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles (EVs) and e-scooters, batteries must meet the ever-growing challenges – more storage and longer-lasting. However, no one chemistry or size fits all applications.

In fact, the world of batteries is complex, as myriad chemistries have advanced during the past few years, enabling manufacturers to narrow down their choice of chemistries.

While Lead-Acid batteries are standard with traditional automobiles using internal combustion engines (ICE) powered by conventional gasoline or diesel fuel, the popular chemistry for EV batteries today is Lithium-ion (Li-ion) for several reasons:

Although Li-ion has several benefits as an EV battery, there is also a safety concern. Li-ion batteries can be a hazard if not properly engineered and manufactured because they have flammable electrolytes that can lead to explosions and fires if damaged or incorrectly charged. The good news is that much progress has been made recently in developing and manufacturing safe Li-ion batteries.

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EV Battery testing challenges

To ensure reliable performance, EV batteries must be well-tested during development and production to ensure they will meet real-world demands. As a result, the EV battery testing equipment used for testing battery cells, modules and packs must be accurate, precise and reliable, with the ability to measure various performance characteristics using a single test instrument or system (Read about testing cells, modules and packs with a single instrument here). Plus, any test protocols must be done with speed and agility, especially on the production floor, where any delays can add to the cost of production.

As EV growth accelerates, engineers must address new EV battery testing challenges, including higher voltage and power levels, increased energy density, space limitations, modular and scalable power, flexible configurations, wider operating envelopes and faster response times to emulate real-world conditions.

However, testing EV batteries with accuracy, reliability and safety is not trivial. Test engineers will confront numerous challenges. For example, it’s difficult to accurately measure high voltage, current and power capacity of battery cells, modules or battery packs and demonstrate the ability to reproduce data with high speed, precision and reliability. Additionally, the EV battery testing equipment must be capable of handling modular and scalable power with flexibility and faster time to market. The EV battery tester must deliver all these performances from a single integrated test piece.

EV battery tester
Figure 1. EA’s all-in-one test system EA-BT-20000 Triple Battery Tester.

To address these challenges, EA Elektro-Automatik has introduced an all-in-one test system, the EA-BT 20000 Triple Battery Tester (Figure 1). It is designed to simplify the engineer’s task of EV battery testing. In essence, it is a three-channel integrated tester with up to 600 A per channel or 1800 A in parallel with maximum power capability of 30 kW. Plus, the test equipment can simultaneously test up to three battery packs with 4 kW / 6 kW or 10 kW per channel.

Building the EV battery testing infrastructure

Multiple EA-BT 20000 units can be combined into racks for measuring large-scale battery systems, generating up to 240 kW of testing capacity. These racks can be paralleled for increased load sharing and safety, with up to eight fully loaded test racks providing an impressive 1.92 MW of testing power.

In essence, EA’s integrated tester enables building a battery test infrastructure with safety and automation for testing cells, modules or battery packs.

Testing cells

Back of power supply

For high-performance battery cell testing, rapid response time is crucial when testing individual cells. Also, Li-ion batteries are known for handling near-instantaneous load changes, making them suitable for quick power delivery applications. As a result, the EA-BT 20000 triple battery tester is unique as it can handle 1 ms changes in the load current draw. This feature accurately measures a cell’s dynamic response to fast load changes, often essential in real-world applications. Moreover, the EA-BT 20000 provides control of full current, even at low voltages. It can handle voltages as low as 2 V at full power, as you can still test at less than full power under 2V, ensuring that individual cells are tested accurately with speed and precision, even in high-power battery packs.

Testing modules

To ensure safe module testing, the EA-BT 20000 incorporates a pre-charge function. This feature safeguards both the DC programmable power supply and the battery being tested. Connecting a battery to the tester without pre-charging could result in power discharge, potentially damaging capacitors and causing sparks. The EA-BT 20000 mitigates these risks by pre-charging capacitors to match the battery’s voltage, ensuring safe and controlled testing conditions.

Additionally, the battery testing instrument features internal polarity detection, preventing incorrect connections to the battery. This added layer of protection safeguards against reversed polarity, which can have catastrophic consequences in a testing environment.

Protecting EV batteries

Because safety is critical in EV battery testing, EA-BT 20000 offers multiple layers of protection. During EV battery testing, polarity detection, overvoltage protection, overcurrent protection, overpower protection and overtemperature protection all work together to prevent damage to both the battery and the instrument. Each channel has a single wire K type thermocouple connection and warnings and alarms are generated if any parameter exceeds safe limits.

Benefits of multichannel tester

Capable of testing up to three battery cells, modules, or packs with an output of 4 kW/channel, 6 kW/channel or 10 kW/channel simultaneously (Figure 2), the EA-BT 20000 can test battery packs with 12 kW, 18 kW and 30 kW power capacity when connected in parallel. Plus, it is highly efficient, reducing test and investment costs and maximizing throughput.

EV Battery tester
Figure 2. The power of three – EA-BT-20000 rear panel with three bus bar output channels for simultaneous testing of three batteries.

While designed for testing the electrical characteristics of a battery, the new tester EA-BT 20000 also lends itself to testing battery State-of-health (SOH) for second-life-classification and end-of-life (EOL) testing. It can be configured as an automated test system or an integrated battery tester.

While designed for testing the electrical characteristics of a battery, the new tester EA-BT 20000 also lends itself to testing battery State-of-health (SOH) for second-life-classification and end-of-life (EOL) testing. It can be configured as an automated test system or an integrated battery tester. Also, it can emulate battery resistance as single cells, modules, or packs.

These features collectively enable the BT 20000 series to effectively emulate batteries for the optimal configuration of energy storage systems and the components supplied under test. Further, it can be used for the optimal design of the energy storage system and the components to be tested. Finally, in the battery recycling phase, the tester can measure the complete discharge of the battery before final recycling.

Further, it can be used for the optimal design of the energy storage system and the components to be tested. Finally, in the battery recycling phase, the tester can measure the complete discharge of the battery before final recycling.

EV battery testing equipment for growing technology

Unlike conventional battery testers with single channel-single output, the new EA tester is unique with triple output and three-channel capability. Designed for a broader field of operation, the EA-BT 20000 tester features wide range input, 208 V – 480 V, +10%, three-phase ac, active power factor correction (typical 0.99), two-quadrant for charging and discharging, very high efficiency of up to more than 96% for energy recovery and saving, galvanically isolated share bus for parallel operation, master-auxiliary bus for parallel operation.

In short, EA’s novel battery tester is the perfect EV battery testing equipment for modern EV batteries. Learn more here and contact us to speak to an applications engineer.

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