EV Batteries Need Better QC

Researchers at INFICON, a supplier of test instruments for leak detection in automotive manufacturing, say there’s an immediate need for better leak-detection tests of lithium-ion batteries powering electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid-electric vehicles. Reportedly, tests conducted by the company indicate tracer-gas leak tests are significantly better than current methods for checking battery packs for water ingress.

The researchers claim that, to prevent water ingress, tests are necessary for leak rates that are impossible to find reliably with air tests. For example, tracer-gas tests detect leaks 1,000 times smaller than current air tests.

Head of leak-detection research and development at INFICON, Dr. Daniel Wetzig, reports, “Closer scrutiny of electric vehicle battery components during production is necessary to ensure that safety, performance, and quality levels are maintained throughout the life of each battery. Today’s pressure-decay methods are either too slow or unreliable and allow significant leaks to go unnoticed.”

Tiny leaks can dramatically shorten battery life, negatively impact performance, and increase warranty costs. Severe cases can short-circuit the electrical system and possibly cause fires.  

INFICON lab tests show that, to safely protect against water ingress, leak rate specifications need to be rather low. The company claims its lab tests empirically prove that the necessary leak rates are reliably detectable via tracer gas leak testing.

These lab results are available in an SAE International paper co-authored by Dr. Wetzig and INFICON application engineer Marc Blaufuss, titled “New Leak Detection Methodology to Protect Against Microscopic Leaks and Water Ingress in Battery Cells, Battery Packs and ADAS Sensors.” For more details, visit INFICON.

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