Batteries & Energy Storage Technology

With an ever-growing demand for energy storage, batteries have become ubiquitous in today's world. Batteries of various chemistries, capacities, and form factors are being used in an increasing variety of products, including consumer electronics (i.e., laptop computers, cellular telephones, PDAs, digital cameras, MP3 players, mini DVD players), personal care products, medical devices, power tools, industrial appliances, backup power supplies, automotive products, and aerospace products, to name a few. On occasion, the batteries in these products fail, leading to performance or safety concerns, including reduced capacity, overheating, case rupture, and even flaming combustion.

By using a multidisciplinary approach involving staff from a wide range of disciplines—including Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Thermal Sciences, and Statistics—we provide a broad range of independent, third-party consulting services. Exponent’s capabilities range from evaluation of cell component materials through design support and certification to failure analysis of full battery packs. 

Services:

Cell Design Review


  • Fundamental electrochemical analysis and evaluation 
  • Thermal analysis of battery materials and electrodes by Thermo Gravimetric Analysis (TGA) and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) 
  • Microscopy and materials characterization with Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray Diffraction (XRD), Fourier Transfer Interferometry (FTIR), and Gas
  • Chromatography with Mass Spectroscopy (GC-MS) 
  • Custom coin cell fabrication for material performance and safety evaluation 
  • Accelerated Rate Calorimetry (ARC) and cone calorimetry on full cells 
  • Mechanical design and assembly review 
  • Computer modeling of cell designs and performance  
  • Accelerated shelf life and cycle life testing  
  • Micro-reference electrode testing in commercial cells 
  • Vent and CID activation testing

Pre-Manufacturing and Prototype Battery Pack Design Assistance and Review


  • Design support for safety systems
  • Battery pack protection system hardware and firmware design reviews including circuit board layout review   
  • Structural evaluation and modeling 
  • Thermal management evaluation  
  • Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Manufacturing Quality Review 


  • Cell and battery pack tear down and assessment
  • On site manufacturing process and quality auditing 
  • Troubleshooting analysis of production data
  • Recommendations for corrective action

As-Manufactured Cell Testing 


  • Cell performance testing, including capacity, calendar life, rate capability, and safety system activation under a variety of environmental conditions 
  • GSM compatibility testing 
  • Vent and CID activation testing 
  • Cell evaluation per IEEE1725 
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) style ignition and Halon suppression testing 
  • Customized testing for specific hazards and abuse conditions

As Manufactured Battery Pack Evaluation and Testing 


  • Battery pack safety testing and performance evaluation
  • Environmental stress and reliability testing
  • Battery evaluation per IEEE 1625 and IEEE1725

Battery System Evaluation and Testing


  • Battery discharger evaluation and testing 
  • Battery charger evaluation and testing 
  • Power supply evaluation and testing
  • Compliance Testing
  • CTIA Authorized Battery Test Laboratory 
  • UN T Test
  • Battery failure investigation
  • Battery pack and cell x-ray 
  • Battery pack disassembly 
  • Component transfer and testing 
  • Protection EEPROM readout and analysis 
  • Cell computed tomography (CT) scanning 
  • Cell opening and analysis of electrodes with Optical Microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), and X-ray Diffraction (XRD) 
  • Cell cross – sectioning and analysis 
  • Analysis of gas from bulging cells 
  • Statistical analysis of field performance data 
  • Recall support 

Battery chemistries that Exponent has studied include:


  • Alkaline 
  • Lead acid 
  • Lithium-ion 
  • Lithium metal polymer (LMP) 
  • Lithium polymer 
  • Lithium primary 
  • Li-ion disulfide 
  • Lithium manganese dioxide  
  • Lithium thionyl chloride 
  • Nickel cadmium 
  • Nickel metal hydride 
  • Silver-zinc 
  • Silver-vanadium oxide (SVO) 

Exponent routinely conducts testing to explore various aspects of lithium-ion battery safety, including response to mechanical thermal and electrical abuse, cell thermal runaway propagation, and fire suppression. Some Exponent reports on this type of testing are available on the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association’s (PRBA) website: http://www.prba.org/prba/publications/battery_studies_and_reports/Default.ashx

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