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SwRI acquires 2011 plug-in electric vehicle to include its batteries in EssEs Consortium matrix

Oct. 18, 2011 — Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) recently acquired an extended range electric vehicle to include its batteries in the Energy Storage System Evaluation and Safety (EssEs) Consortium. Information obtained through evaluation of the batteries will be included in the EssEs database that is available to all members.

The consortium is a cooperative research project focusing on safe, reliable, cost-effective energy storage systems for electric and hybrid-electric vehicle applications. The acquired vehicle is powered by an electric motor with electricity stored in a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

The EssEs consortium helps vehicle manufacturers and battery suppliers develop precompetitive, detailed cell-level test data on currently available electrochemical storage systems and perform research to advance the testing methodologies used in evaluating batteries. The four-year consortium, which held its kick-off meeting in May, now has 11 participants.

"Test data, such as that from the new extended range electric vehicle, will be critical to the future of electric, hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology," said Dr. Bapiraju Surampudi, a principal engineer in SwRI's Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division who leads the consortium. "The key to the success of these vehicles as the industry moves forward is the production of safe, reliable and cost-effective energy storage systems."

One of the advantages of joining the EssEs consortium is to gain access to battery evaluation data that is otherwise difficult to obtain. In some cases, as it is in the newly acquired vehicle, batteries alone are not available, and suppliers are reluctant to provide them for evaluation. The test data produced by the consortium frees up testing resources of original equipment manufacturers, allowing them to concentrate on product development rather than performing individual battery cell assessments. Additionally, a non-disclosure agreement, specifying no sub-cell-level testing, is established with all cell manufacturers participating in the consortium.

"Acquiring this new vehicle is great for our consortium because its batteries represent world-class, state-of-the-art lithium ion technology," added Karl Kreder, an engineer in the Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division.

To advance testing methodologies for benchmarking batteries, research is being performed to make tests faster, cheaper and more significant. The program is providing data from performance, abuse, life and consistency of manufacturing tests for member-selected sets of battery cells in a private, independent third-party laboratory format.

Consortium membership, renewable annually, allows for equal cost sharing among the participants. Members receive semi-annual progress reviews, FTP secure server database access to monthly progress reports, annual program reports and full test results for each battery type per year.

For more information about the EssEs consortium, contact Surampudi at (210) 522-3278, or visit batteryconsortium.swri.org.

For more information, contact Rob Leibold, (210) 522-2258, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.