Building Better Batteries

Battery specialist Accutronics has upgraded its Staffordshire test facility with a new range of specialist battery testing equipment. The  Maccor model 4200 multifunction desktop cabinet and separate floor-standing temperature chamber rigorously tests batteries for applications ranging from portable instrumentation and medical devices to robotics and defence. Installation of the new test equipment will enhance the company’s in-house testing capability and further highlight Accutronics’ commitment to sustainable battery development.

Accutronics can set the testing equipment to automatically cycle through constant power, voltage, resistance and voltage scans. The current range starts at 15 Amps and can reach 240 Amps by combining channels.

Using the latest high-precision automated testing software, Maccor’s model 4200 is designed to test batteries of various chemistries as well as super-capacitors and fuel cells. Supplied complete with software, tester PC and PowerPole interface for easy cable and holder connection, the user can configure the Model 4200 in up to 16 multi-current range channels.

For batteries used in extreme hot and cold environments, the Maccor temperature chamber can test batteries from -20°C to 100°C. Able to incorporate up to 32 chambers into a single automated test system, the unit is compact enough to fit on a bench top and is accurate to a temperature uniformity and accuracy of ±8 degrees.

“Traditionally, one of the challenges for battery original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) has been optimal cell-selection for our customers’ applications,” said Neil Oliver, technical marketing manager at Accutronics. “This new equipment will help us to design, manufacture and deliver world class batteries even faster.

“The new equipment is used in our battery evaluation department to test the performance of rechargeable cells at different rates and temperatures so that we can select the best cell. The equipment can charge and discharge up to 10A, and even higher if we combine the channels. It is fully programmable as well, so we can accurately replicate customer application discharge-profiles.

“Cell manufacturers rarely provide useful cell test data and even this is often performance under benign conditions. Our new test equipment allows us to really put cells through their paces based on real world usage.”

The test equipment has reduced design times and uncertainty in the development process and improved the final performance verification phase. Accutronics can also more closely match cell selection with customer requirements by choosing a more optimal balance of cost, cycle life, rate capability, charge time, stored energy, temperature and storage performance.