Fraunhofer launches test centre for high-voltage batteries

March 27, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
To foster electromobility, research institute Fraunhofer LBF (Darmstadt, Germany) has opened the centre for system reliability in electromobility, abbreviated ZSZ-e. The centre is dedicated to developing testing procedures and guidelines for high-voltage batteries. In addition, the researchers will perform multi-physical tests on batteries, modules and components. What’s more, the scientists introduced the prototype of an electric vehicle that follows a unique approach.

In the focus of the new centre will be aspects relevant for development, production and operation of traction batteries. Such aspects include functionality, performance, reliability and aging effects. Towards this end, the ZSZ-e has a modern development and research environment that in particular takes into account the requirements of electromobility.

A highlight in the centre is a unique high-performance test stand for battery systems, enabling the researchers to get granular on the effects of thermal and climatic conditions, electric loads and highly dynamic mechanic parameters to the device under test. In other words, the test stand enables the scientists and engineers to expose the battery under test simultaneously to heat and cold, shocks, vibrations and humidity. To conduct such tests over extended periods, the institute is equipped with a large multi-axial shaker.  

The Fraunhofer LBF that operates the centre is well entrenched in electromobility research. Since 2009 it is participating in the large-scale project Fraunhofer Systems Research Electromobility (FSEM I) which is funded in part by the German government. Also costs of the ZSZ-e, amounting to €16.8 million, have been paid in part by German federal and state governmental institutions.

Along with the new test centre, Fraunhofer LBF introduced an electric research vehicle with a unique powertrain concept. The electricity for the GEV/one is not stored in large batteries. Instead, it is continuously generated by a gas engine coupled with an electric generator. Thus, the vehicle is independent of the charging infrastructure; likewise its driving range is not limited by the capacity of the battery. The point is that the engine can run continuously at the operation point of its best efficiency.

This vehicle is part of a small fleet of six test vehicles developed at Fraunhofer LBF The vehicles range in size from microcar to the luxury class and are equipped with related measurement technology and sensors, mostly developed in house. These vehicles enable the institute to gather