Sandia National Laboratories will use $4.2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to modify and enhance its existing Battery Abuse Testing Laboratory (BATLab), with the goal of developing low-cost batteries for electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Sandia’s BATLab is recognized as a leader in the field of battery testing to ensure they meet real-world performance requirements. The tests help to determine how much abuse lithium ion batteries can safely handle, including being crushed, pounded with nails and heated to boiling hot temperatures. Sandia tests everything from regular small cells about the size of a laptop computer battery up to full-sized modules and packs weighing several hundred pounds for hybrid vehicles.
The $4.2 million in funding is part of a $104.7 million economic stimulus package to further develop the nation’s efforts in clean energy and efficient technologies across seven DOE national laboratories. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman made the announcement during a recent visit to Sandia to be briefed on the Labs’ capabilities and programs.
With the recent stimulus funds, the BATLab will be able to greatly increase the number of tests it does.
The equipment and facilities that we currently have allow us to do only one test at a time, so our throughput has been somewhat limited. The new equipment and upgrades that we will be able to implement will enhance the amount and range of testing and diagnostics that we can do, and we expect to at least be able to double our throughput.—Pete Roth, lead researcher for Sandia’s FreedomCAR program
Those upgrades include fire suppression, improved lighting and advanced electrical systems, in addition to new software and analytical equipment to help diagnose battery responses and provide data for manufacturers.
The $104.7 million ARRA funding is concentrated on three priorities: advancing carbon fiber manufacturing and processing technologies to help reduce the weight of vehicles; developing integrated building systems to reduce US carbon emissions and expanding facilities for fabricating and testing advanced battery prototypes for fuel-efficient vehicles.