US giant buys up London battery test lab

April 25, 2019 //By Nick Flaherty
The specialist battery test lab at Vantage Power has been bought by US giant Allison Transmission.
Electric vehicle technology specialist and battery lab company Vantage Power has been bought by US giant Allison Transmission.

Allison is the world's largest maker of medium- and heavy-duty fully automatic transmissions, and alongside Vantage Power and the battery test lab it has also bought AxleTech’s electric vehicle (EV) systems division as part of a signficant shift to electric powertrain systems.

Vantage Power has particular focus on battery technology development, vehicle integration and control systems, as well as vehicle connectivity and telemetry. It has its own in-house cell testing lab in Greenford, London, which allows electrical characterisation of battery cells as well as life cycle tests with application dependent duty cycles. This allows electrical characterisation of battery cells as well as the capability to control thermal conditions of test cycles, including accelerated aging tests, temperature controlled battery cycles as well as root cause analysis on failed cells.

It can also be used to electrically characterise cells for their properties such as state of charge (SOC) vs open circuit voltage (OCV), DC internal resistance and many others. This can be done for a number of cell formats including cylindrical, pouch and prismatic using an Arbin BT2000 battery cycler and ESPEC thermal chamber.

This is important because the properties of batteries, like many chemical processes, change with temperature and so these must be controlled precisely using state of the art equipment. The outputs of the battery test lab feeds directly into battery and energy management strategies and thermal simulation work. Vantage Power has used the test technology to build comprehensive models of its own battery pack for sophisticated SOC algorithms, complex thermal simulations and for the formation of battery life models which prolong the life of its battery pack.

It also has an in-house pilot manufacturing line for a full high voltage, liquid cooled battery system. This uses individual cylindrical cells and pre-manufactured parts that go through multiple stages of welding and modular manual assembly for an electric powertrain.

Its power technologies have been deployed in a wide range of applications including complete electric hybrid repower systems for buses to grid energy storage. It has developed a highly tuned and very well tested cell welding process which overcomes the complexities traditionally associated with welding lithium-ion cells to current-carrying busbars. This simpler technique can reduce both the part count and the cost of joining cells into blocks.

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