WHITE PAPER DMC BATTERY TESTING PLATFORM

WHITE PAPER DMC BATTERY TESTING PLATFORM
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DMC BATTERY TESTING PLATFORM
EV Battery Pack Testing in a Manufacturing Environment
OVERVIEW
Electric vehicles are clearly becoming a growing part of
the automotive scene. They promise low or no emissions,
conceivably low cost of fuel from the power grid, yet they
will continue to deliver us safely from here to there.
However, electric vehicle design and manufacturing is a
clearly a paradigm shift for the Auto Industry – new drive
systems, technologies… and test plans.
Electric vehicles are bringing new test and validation
challenges to the automotive industry as the electronic
and software content of the vehicles grow. In this white
paper, we will discuss the basics of electric vehicle battery pack designs and some of the tests that should be
performed on them in a manufacturing environment. We’ll also show you how the DMC Battery Testing Platform
can help solve these complex testing problems.
MOTIVATION FOR EV BATTERY TESTING
The battery packs used as the rechargeable electrical storage system (RESS) in electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid
electric vehicles (HEVs), and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are large and complex. Controlled release of
the battery’s energy provides useful electrical power in the form of current and voltage. Uncontrolled release of
this energy can result in dangerous situations such as release of toxic materials (i.e. smoke), fire, high pressure
events (i.e. explosions), or any combination thereof.
Uncontrolled energy releases can be caused by severe physical abuse, such as crushing, puncturing or burning,
which can be mitigated by mechanical safety systems and proper physical design. However, they can also be
caused by shorted cells, abnormally high discharge rate, excessive heat buildup, overcharging, or constant
recharging, which can weaken the battery. These causes are best prevented by a properly designed and validated
electronic safety and monitoring system, better known as a battery management system (BMS).
One of the major validation and safety challenges to be tackled in modern EVs, HEVs, and PHEVs concerns the
effective testing of the Battery Pack itself and the Battery Management Systems (BMS) – the complex electronic
system that manages the performance and safety of the battery pack and the high levels of electrical energy
stored within. In the sections below we will describe both the battery pack and the BMS in greater detail.
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INSIDE AN EV BATTERY PACK
Battery pack designs for EVs are complex and vary widely by
manufacturer and specific application. However, they all
incorporate combinations of several simple mechanical and
electrical component systems which perform the basic
required functions of the pack.
We will start with the actual battery cells, which can have
different chemistries, physical shapes, and sizes as preferred
by various pack manufacturers. However, the battery pack will
always incorporate many discrete cells connected in series
and parallel to achieve the total voltage and current
requirements of the pack. In fact, battery packs for all electric
drive EVs can contain several hundred individual cells.
To assist in manufacturing and assembly, the large stack of cells is typically grouped into smaller stacks called
modules. Several of these modules will be placed into a single battery pack. Within each module the cells are
welded together to complete the electrical path for current flow. Modules can also incorporate cooling
mechanisms, temperature monitors, and other devices. In most cases, modules also allow for monitoring the
voltage produced by each battery cell in the stack by the BMS.
Somewhere in the middle, or at the ends, of the battery cell stack is a main fuse which limits the current of the
pack under a short circuit condition. Also located somewhere within the electrical path of the battery stack is a
“service plug” or “service disconnect” which can be removed to split the battery stack into two electrically isolated
halves. With the service plug removed, the exposed main terminals of the battery present no high potential
electrical danger to service technicians.
The battery pack also contains relays, or
contactors, which control the distribution of
the battery pack’s electrical power to the
output terminals. In most cases there will be a
minimum of two main relays which connect
the battery cell stack to the main positive and
negative output terminals of the pack, those
supplying high current to the electrical drive
motor. Some pack designs will include
alternate current paths for pre-charging the drive system through a pre-charge resistor or for powering auxiliary
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busses which will also have their own associated control relays. For obvious safety reasons these relays are all
normally open.
The battery pack also contains a variety of temperature, voltage, and current sensors. There will be at least one
main current sensor which measures the current being supplied by, or sourced to, the pack. The current from this
sensor can be integrated to track the actual state of charge (SoC) of battery pack. The state of charge is the pack
capacity expressed as a percentage, and can be thought of as the pack’s fuel gauge indicator. The battery pack
will also have a main voltage sensor, for monitoring the voltage of the entire stack and a series of temperature
sensors, such as thermistors, located at key measurement points inside the pack.
Collection of data from the pack sensors and activation of the pack relays are accomplished by the pack’s Battery
Monitoring Unit (BMU) or Battery Management System (BMS). The BMS is also responsible for communications
with the world outside the battery pack and performing other key functions, as described in the following section.
INSIDE AN EV BATTERY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (BMS)
Almost all electronic functions of the EV battery pack are controlled by the BMS, including battery pack voltage
and current monitoring, individual cell voltage measurements, cell balancing routines, pack state of charge
calculations, cell temperature and health monitoring, ensuring overall pack safety and optimal performance, and
communicating with the vehicle engine control unit (ECU).
In a nutshell, the BMS system must read voltages and
temperatures from the cell stack and inputs from
associated temperature, current and voltage sensors. From
there, the BMS must process the inputs, making logical
decisions to control pack performance and safely, and
reporting input status and operating state through a
variety of analog, digital, and communication outputs.
BMS TOPOLOGY
Modern BMS systems for PHEV applications are typically
distributed electronic systems. In a standard distributed
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topology, routing of wires to individual cells is minimized by breaking the BMS functions up into at least 2
categories. The monitoring of the temperature and voltage of individual cells is done by a BMS ‘sub-module’ or
‘slave’ circuit board, which is mounted directly on each battery module stack. Higher level functions such as
computing state of charge, activating contactors, etc. along with aggregating the data from the sub modules and
communicating with the ECU are done by the BMS ‘main module’ or ‘master’.
The sub-modules and main module communicate on
an internal data bus such as CAN (controller area
network). Power for the BMS can be supplied by the
battery stack itself, or from an external primary
battery such as a standard 12V lead acid battery. In
some cases, the main module is powered externally,
while the sub modules are powered parasitically from
the battery modules to which they are attached.
BMS STATE OF CHARGE CALCULATION
The BMS is responsible for tracking a battery pack’s
exact state of charge (SoC). This may simply be for
providing the driver with an indication of the capacity
left in the battery (fuel gauging), or it could be used for more advanced control features.
For example, SoC information is critical to estimating and maintaining the pack’s usable lifetime. Usable battery
life can be dramatically reduced by simply charging the pack too much, or discharging it too deeply. The BMS
must maintain the cells within the safe operating limits. The SoC indication is also used to determine the end of
the charging and discharging cycles.
To measure SoC the BMS must include a very accurate charge estimator. Since you can’t directly measure a
battery’s charge, the SoC has to be calculated from measured characteristics like voltage, temperature, current
and other proprietary (depending on the manufacturer) parameters. The BMS is the system responsible for these
measurements and calculations.
BMS CELL BALANCING FUNCTIONS
The BMS must compensate for any underperforming cells in a module, or “stack”, by actively monitoring and
balancing each cell’s SoC. In multi-cell battery chains, small differences between cells (as a result of production
tolerances, uneven temperature distribution, intrinsic impedance, and/or aging characteristics) tend to be
magnified with each charge and discharge cycle. In PHEV applications the number of cycles can be very high due
to the use of regenerative braking mechanisms.
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Assume degraded cells with a diminished capacity
existed within the battery stack. During the
charging cycle, there is a danger that once it has
reached its full charge it will be subject to
overcharging until the rest of the cells in the chain
reach their full charge. As a result, temperature and
pressure may build up and possibly damage that
cell. During discharging, the weakest cell will have
the greatest depth of discharge and will tend to fail
before the others. The voltage on the weaker cells
could even become reversed as they become fully
discharged before the rest of the cells resulting in
early failure of the cell.
Cell balancing is an active way of compensating for weaker cells by equalizing the charge on all the cells in the
chain and thus extending the battery pack’s usable life. During cell balancing circuits are enabled which can
transfer charge selectively from neighboring cells, or the entire pack, to any undercharged cells detected in the
stack.
In order to determine when active cell balancing should be triggered, and on which target cells, the BMS must be
able to measure the voltage of each individual cell. Moreover, each cell must be equipped with an active
balancing circuit.
STATE OF HEALTH AND DIAGNOSTICS
The State of Health (SoH) is a measure of a battery's capability to safely deliver its specified output. This metric is
vital for assessing the readiness of the automobile and as an indicator of required maintenance.
SoH metrics can be as simple as monitoring and storing the battery's history using parameters such as number of
cycles, maximum and minimum voltages and temperatures, and maximum charging and discharging currents,
which can be used for subsequent evaluation. This recorded history can be used to determine whether it has
been subject to abuse, which can be an important tool in assessing warranty claims.
More advanced measures of battery SoH can include features such as automated measurement of the pack’s
isolation resistance. In this case, specialized circuits inside the battery pack can measure the electrical isolation of
the high current path from the battery pack ground planes. Such a safety system could preemptively alert the
operator or maintenance technicians to potential exposure to high voltage.
BMS COMMUNICATIONS
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Most BMS systems incorporate some form of communication with the world outside the battery pack, including
the ECU, the charger controller, and/or your test equipment. Communications interfaces are also used to modify
the BMS control parameters and for diagnostic information retrieval.
In automotive applications, CAN (controller area network) is the most common communications bus, although
RS232 / RS485 serial, TCPlP or other networks could be used. CAN networks come in a variety of
implementations and can include a range of higher level protocols.
Aside from a digital bus, separate analog and/or digital inputs and outputs could be considered as BMS
communication. Discrete inputs and outputs can be used for redundancy of for operations requiring a separate
interface such as activating an external contactor, fan, or dashboard lamp.
TESTING AN EV BATTERY PACK
Developing a test strategy for an assembly as
large, complex, and powerful as an EV battery
pack can be a daunting task. Like most
complex problems, breaking the process
down into manageable pieces is the key to
finding a solution. Accordingly, testing only at
critical points in the development and
manufacturing process will reduce the size of
the problem. Key points for most pack
manufacturers are BMS development, pack development, module assembly, and pack assembly. What tests are
performed at each step is a different matter altogether, and depends on the specifics of the process and the
device.
BMS DEVELOPMENT TESTING
During BMS Development, engineers need a way to reliably test the BMS under real-world conditions to
complete their verification and validation plans. Testing such as Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) is often performed at
this stage. HIL testing involves simulating physical inputs and external digital connections to the pack while
monitoring its outputs and behavior relative to design requirements.
It is not easy to accurately simulate all of the real-world conditions a BMS will be subjected to. But what does it
cost you to skip testing over every condition? In the end, simulating nearly every combination of cell voltages,
temperatures, and currents you expect your BMS to encounter is really the only way to verify that your BMS
reacts as you intended in order to keep your pack safe and reliable.
PACK DEVELOPMENT TESTING
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At the Pack Development stage, engineers are typically concerned about testing the entire assembly through
various types of environmental stress testing as part of design validation or product validation plans.
Environmental stress could include exposure to temperature extremes, thermal shock cycling, vibration, humidity,
on-off cycling, charge discharge cycling, or any combination of these. The testing requirements here typically
include performing a full batch of performance tests on a pack both before and after application of the stress.
Live monitoring of the pack throughout the environmental stress period may also be required.
MODULE ASSEMBLY TESTING
Requirements for Module Level testing vary widely depending on the actual design of the system. The main
testing to be done at this point involves simple charge / discharge testing to ensure that connections between
cells are robust and can handle the intended current loads without failing or shedding excessive heat. Further
testing could involve ensuring the cell voltages are reported correctly, that the cells are balanced, and/or that the
cooling and temperature monitoring sensors are working properly.
PACK ASSEMBLY TESTING
Pack Level testing is done after the pack has
completed, or is at least very close to, the point of
final assembly, or “End of Line” (EOL). At this stage, the
pack must complete a full batch of tests to ensure
proper functioning of every major pack subsystem
(functional testing). These tests include simple pinout
and continuity checks, confirming proper relay
operation, testing functionality of safety devices such
as the service disconnect, carefully measuring the
isolation resistance under high potential (hi-pot
testing), and testing proper communications and
operation of the BMS.
After EOL functional testing is completed, packs may also be subjected to charge / discharge cycling and drive
profile cycling, which will simulate the typical conditions the pack will see when integrated into the EV drivetrain.
Packs can also be run through active cell balancing routines in order to set the initial charge state of each cell to a
nominal condition, or to set the Pack SoC to a level appropriate for shipping and storage.
EV BATTERY PACK TESTING SOLUTIONS
Once you have decided where you are testing, and what you are testing, you need to determine how you will be
testing. Since every battery pack design is unique and testing requirements are primarily left up to the end user
and manufacturer to agree upon, in reality there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone’s battery pack testing
needs.
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OFF-THE-SHELF TESTING SOLUTIONS
That being said, some portions of the testing, such as charge / discharge / drive cycle evaluation in specific, are
standardized. As such, pre-packaged, off-the-shelf hardware and software solutions exist for these particular test
steps. These systems make use of the only elements common to every battery pack: the positive and negative
output terminals. These turn-key systems may even allow you to add in options required to test components and
functions specific to your battery pack, such as CAN communications, external relay activation, etc.
When considering off-the-shelf systems for use in your test plan, make sure to ask yourself these three basic
questions:
(1) Are you getting everything you need just the way you want it… or are you settling for what the
other guy needed?
(2) Are you using everything you are going to pay for… or are you paying for things you won’t use?
(3) Is it flexible enough to accommodate my future needs… but not so flexible that it becomes
cumbersome to use?
ARGUMENTS FOR A CUSTOMIZED, MODULAR TEST SYSTEM APPROACH
Building a functional test system customized to your battery pack and your specific testing needs often sounds
like a more costly and time consuming approach… and it can be. However, the route you take to achieve that end
goal makes a world of difference in the outcome.
Choosing a modular hardware and software testing platform which can be customized to meet your
requirements, can be used to jump start this approach, making it a very viable option. This is especially true if the
platform you choose leverages proven commercial technologies and open industry standards.
In the end, this modular platform based testing approach can have several benefits:
(1) It can dramatically lower cost of the test system, both in initial capital expenditure, and in overall cost of
ownership, through the use of commercial technologies and standards.
(2) It can increase your test throughput with fast measurement hardware and software capable of managing
multiple test routines in parallel.
(3) The time required to redesign test systems for new products will decrease through the use of flexible,
modular software and hardware.
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(4) You can get exactly what you need, the way you want it. You can get everything you paid for and your test
station will be flexible, without being cumbersome to use.
THE DMC BATTERY TESTING PLATFORM
The DMC Battery Testing Platform is specifically designed for testing entire
battery packs, battery modules, and BMS components for EV, HEV, and PHEV
manufacturers, suppliers, and third party testing facilities. The Battery Testing
Platform is quickly leveraged to produce completely automated test systems
specifically designed for EOL manufacturing tests, BMS validation and
verification, and environmental monitoring.
DMC’s modular Battery Testing Platform incorporates proven software and
hardware architectures, along with flexible and reliable subsystem components,
which can be completely customized to end user specifications.
The Battery Testing Platform is built around high quality off-the-shelf hardware
assembled from a variety of vendors, including National Instruments (NI),
Pickering Interfaces, Lambda, and Agilent, among others. Selection of
individual instruments in the DMC system is based completely on required
performance, not allegiance to a single hardware vendor. This strict attention
to specifications and performance provides DMC battery test system users with
best in class performance.
HARDWARE SYSTEM DESCRIPTION
The DMC Battery Testing Platform leverages a modular
hardware architecture, flexible subsystem components, and
reliable instrumentation, to create completely customized
test systems tailored to meet end users specifications. Use
of the modular platform allows the production of a
completely customized battery test system with the
performance and cost of a turn-key, off the shelf solution.
The basic block diagram of a test system is shown at right.
Each test system produced will include only the modules
required to meet end user specifications. Modules can be
easily customized, or new ones added, as needed for your
implementation.
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Core system instrumentation and hardware includes:
o NI PXI Chassis with NI embedded system controller
o Lambda low voltage, programmable DC power supplies
o Dual, NI 7 . digit PXI DMMs: +/-10 nV to 1kV voltage readings and current to 1 pA.
o Pickering Interfaces 1000VDC PXI relay modules.
o NI Dual port, software selectable CAN transceiver (HS, LS, 1-wire), PXI cards.
o NI High speed simultaneous sampling Analog and Digital I/O PXI DAQ cards.
o Agilent high voltage, programmable power supplies.
SOFTWARE SYSTEM DESCRIPTION
DMC’s modular Battery Testing Platform solutions run proven and flexible software architectures built using
National Instruments’ LabVIEW Development System platform. Test software is built with several audiences in
mind.
- Engineers are provided with password protected access to: test settings, system parameters, a fully
interactive “manual mode” which provides low-level access to all instruments and subsystems, and to all
system self-test and diagnostic routines.
- Maintenance-staff have full access to an embedded calibration tool set.
- Operators and technicians have the ability to load test sequences and recipes, enter extended DUT
information, start tests with a single button press, monitor ongoing tests on the live data screen, and view
final data reports.
- Managers have access to usability statistics, error reports and logs, and can be emailed on test
completion failures, and/or system trouble.
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EXAMPLE SYSTEM - BMS VALIDATION TESTING
Effectively testing a BMS system involves two primary
functions, (1) accurately simulating the required sensors
and battery cell stack inputs to the BMS, and (2)
measuring, collecting, and processing the digital and
analog outputs produced by the BMS system as a result
of those inputs.
DMC’s modular Battery Testing Platform solution can
be configured specifically for testing your entire BMS,
or individual components of the system. Of course your specific requirements will be different, but an example
BMS testing solution might have the following physical requirements:
BMS SIMULATED INPUTS
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- Simulate a fully adjustable, 100-cell battery stack.
- Simulate 26 pack temperature sensors.
- Simulate various analog current and voltage sensors.
- Simulate several pack contactors/relays.
- Simulate drive motor’s impedance model.
- Simulate BMS external, low voltage power supply / backup battery.
BMS OUTPUT / FUNCTIONAL MONITORING
- Over voltage and under voltage protection analog output signals
- Cell balancing RMS current draw and I/V waveform capture.
- In-rush, parasitic, sleep, and wake current monitoring.
- Cell voltage and stack voltage accuracy measurements.
- Temperature sensor accuracy measurements.
- System communications performance (CAN, Serial, etc.)
- Safety system and fault condition recognition
The example BMS testing system can be configured to run the following test sequences:
• BMS Connection Check
• Terminal Resistance Checks
• Terminal Capacitance Checks
• Interlock System Validation
CAN Communications Checks
– Sleep/Wake Mode Current Measurement
– Activate / Deactivate Timing and Voltage
– CAN Communications Check
– Low / High Voltage Performance
– Power Dropout Sensitivity
BMS Validation Tests
– Active Isolation Capability
• Nominal
• Simulated Fault Conditions
Cell and Pack Voltages
• Nominal Cell Voltage
• High Cell Voltage
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• Low Cell Voltage
• Cell position reporting verification
BMS Validation Tests (Continued)
– Pack Current / SOC
– Nominal Current
– High Current
– Low Current
Cell and Pack Temperatures
– Nominal Temperatures
– High Temperatures
– Low Temperatures
– Cell position reporting verification
Cell Balancing Capability
– Nominal Cell Voltage
– High Cell Voltage
– Low Cell Voltage
Diagnostic Trouble and Fault Codes
– Validate all Trouble / Fault Code Operation
– BMS Software Version Validation
In addition to the core platform hardware components listed previously, configuration of the BMS test stand
requires integration of a major hardware assembly which can simulate the series stack of approximately 100 Li-ion
cells comprising the actual battery to be connected to the BMS. Adding this functionality allows users to simulate
nominal, out of norm, and worst-case battery stack conditions, which could not be produced repeatedly, reliably,
or safely with a normal chemical battery cell. As a result, the system can be used to measure live waveform
captures of the currents and voltages produced by the stack under varying BMS conditions. With this information
end users can gain unique and valuable insights into the real world operation of their BMS system.
The modular, flexible, and open nature of the DMC Battery Testing Platform solution made selection, integration,
and use of the battery stack simulator component simple and straightforward.
For more information on this system configuration, see this DMC Case Study:
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http://www.dmcinfo.com/Case-Studies/View/ProjectID/200/Battery-Management-System-BMS-Validation-TestStand.aspx
EXAMPLE SYSTEM - END OF LINE FUNCTIONAL TESTING
DMC’s modular Battery Testing Platform solution can also be configured specifically for automated end-of-line
testing of your entire battery pack, including battery cycler control for charge / discharge / drive-cycle testing.
Your specific requirements will be different, but the example EOL battery pack test system can be configured to
run the following test sequences:
• Pack Connection Check
• Chassis Ground Isolation Resistance
– Direct DC V method (to 1kV)
– USA DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 305
– UN ECE 324 Regulation 100
– Proprietary / Other Methods
• Battery Terminal Isolation Resistance
• Other Terminal Isolation Resistance
• Terminal Resistance Checks
• Terminal Capacitance Checks
• Contactor Characterizations
– Turn On Timing / Voltage / Current
– Turn Off Timing / Voltage
• Fuse Path Validation
• Interlock System Validation
• BMS Validation Tests
– Sleep/Wake Mode Current Measurement
– Activate / Deactivate Timing and Voltage
– CAN Communications Check
– Low / High Voltage Performance
– Voltage Accuracy Testing
– Power Dropout Sensitivity
– Active Isolation Capability
– Cell Balancing Capability
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• Service Disconnect Performance
• CAN Communications Checks
– Cell and Pack Voltages
– Pack Current / SOC
– Cell and Pack Temperatures
– Diagnostic Trouble and Fault Codes
– BMS Software Version Validation
• Battery Pack Cycling Tests
– Max / Min Current Validation
– Drive Cycle Performance
– Fuse Performance
For more information on this system configuration, see this DMC Case Study:
http://www.dmcinfo.com/Case-Studies/View/ProjectID/121/Hybrid-Electric-Vehicle-Battery-Test-System.aspx
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