Author: NH Research, Inc.

Testing Electric Vehicles Using Battery Emulation

Testing Electric Vehicles with Battery Emulation - NH Research (NHR)

Today, next generation battery emulation provides a competitive advantage for testing electric vehicle (EV) components and systems. Battery Emulation is ideal for testing the electric powertrain, DC fast charging and other EV applications in which a battery is required for testing.

Using batteries as power sources for testing is an extremely time-consuming and costly challenge across the transportation electrification industry including EV, aerospace, and e-mobility markets. The transition from traditional to modern electrification architectures, require flexible and scalable testing methodologies. Testing with batteries can delay projects, increase safety risks and hinder engineering productivity. As electrification is evolving to higher power demands, the ability to emulate a battery or energy storage systems with speed and accuracy is critical. Battery emulation can substantially reduce test time, energy consumption and operating costs.

Battery Emulation Testing vs. Real Battery Testing

There are 3 key benefits to testing electric vehicles with battery emulation or battery simulator testing, rather than using a real battery. Battery emulation dramatically reduces testing time, provides highly repeatable test results, and creates a safer test environment. This results in preparation time, operator errors, and result variations due to battery temperature or aging, being eliminated.

Testing EVs with Battery Emulation Reduces Testing Time

Testing a real battery often requires operator preparation for each step. Batteries must first be charged, or discharged, then allowed to rest, and finally tested. The significant battery preparation time can be avoided by using an emulated battery. Emulation can reduce total test times by more than 70%.

Battery Emulation Provides Repeatable Test Results

Over time, batteries provide inconsistent test results, wear out, and need to be replaced. Battery age, internal temperature, and cycling are all contributing factors to the limited battery life-span. Manual battery operation, including rest time facilitation, can also cause inaccurate test results. Battery emulation provides consistent and repeatable test results, unlike those from real battery testing, during which battery changes and operator errors cause variations in test results.

Battery Emulation Improves Safety

Although batteries are generally safe when operated within normal operating ranges, they are high energy devices that may pose serious risks upon battery or unit under test (UUT) failure. Such risks include exposure to dangerous gases, fires, explosions, or corrosive chemicals. These concerns have led to safety policies stating that tests must be conducted and monitored during working hours. Furthermore, testing extreme cases of over-discharged or over-charged batteries can pose unpredictable risks and safety hazards. Battery emulation creates a safe testing environment without any of the concerns that arise when real batteries are used. Also, emulation safely verifies UUT behavior when a battery is outside a normal operating condition.

Not all Battery Emulators are Created Equal

While testing with real batteries is possible, it can seem quite impractical. Using battery emulator or battery simulator testing produces test results faster, provides a consistent test, and can safely test power electronic devices that typically require a real battery.

However, not all battery emulators, regenerative DC sources and DC common bus architectures are optimally designed to provide accurate and timely results. There are key technology considerations when selecting a battery emulator for your application. Contact us to learn what battery emulation capabilities are the right approaches for faster, scalable and more repeatable testing.

 

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Fuel Cell Test Solutions: Hydrogen Technologies on the Rise

Fuel Cell Testing - NH Research (NHR)

The growth of hydrogen powered applications is on the rise with a global mission to reduce green-house gas emissions. Significant fuel cell R&D is taking place across transportation and large scale energy storage markets to improve product performance and manufacturing production.

Why might companies opt for fuel cells instead of electric batteries? Fuel cells are especially desirable for electric flight, heavy-duty commercial trucks and other applications in which its lighter weight or energy density is significant for product performance and efficiency. Fuel cells also offer high quality, reliable power without dependence on the grid. This benefit provides a great deal of flexibility for military or stationary applications. Other applications include drone applications because fuel cells have a high energy density that supports longer range.

Although fuel cells have been used for decades, there is still much testing and research to be conducted to optimize its performance in applications such as FCEVs. Proton-exchange membranes (PEM) Fuel Cells, specifically, are typically used in transportation and some stationary applications due to their fast startup time and power-to-weight ratio.

Selecting the Right Fuel Cell Test Equipment

NHR offers advanced, high-performing fuel cell test solutions including fuel cell life-cycle testing and fuel cell emulation for FCEV powertrain applications or electric propulsion. Key test equipment considerations for fuel cell testing include regeneration and fuel cell emulation capabilities described below.

Regeneration Capability

Regeneration is an important technical consideration for testing fuel cells and systems. Unlike batteries, fuel cells are dependent on hydrogen gas that gets delivered to the fuel cell and converted into electricity through an electrochemical process. In order to test fuel cell components or systems, companies typically use hydrogen fuel to produce electricity which gets burned off for the purposes of testing. This approach results in increased fuel costs, energy consumption and heat waste that magnifies when tests need to be repeated. Regenerative loads and sources recycle energy back to the facility or to the UUT for re-use. As a result, major benefits include increased energy efficiency, reduced testing time, improved worker productivity, and eliminates unnecessary operating costs.

Fuel Cell Emulation

There are many benefits to testing fuel cells by emulating, or simulating, fuel cell characteristics rather than using a real fuel cell stack. Fuel cell emulation dramatically reduces testing time, provides highly repeatable test results, and creates a safer test environment. Testing with a real fuel stack requires the hydrogen fuel to be delivered to the fuel stack, allowed to rest and finally tested. The significant fuel cell preparation time and costs can be avoided by using an emulated fuel cell stack. In many applications, fuel cell emulation will substantially speed up development time, reduce cost and increase energy efficiency. For example, a typical FCEV has hydrogen tank that stores hydrogen fuel which gets delivered to the fuel cell and converted into electricity. The fuel cell stack can be emulated for testing other system level components of the FCEV such as the powertrain. This capability to emulate a fuel stack removes a great deal of time and costs.

Contact NHR for fuel cell testing consultation or product information. Our application experts can help you identify the right test solutions and set up.

Download “Regenerative Loads & Sources” App Note

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NHR Presents Live Webinar: Accelerate Battery Test Automation with Enerchron on June 16th

Next Generation Battery Test Systems - NH Research (NHR)

NH Research Inc., a leading provider of power electronics and battery test solutions for the automotive, industrial, energy storage, and critical-power markets, will be hosting a free live webinar, Accelerate Battery Test Automation with Enerchron®, held on June 16th, 2020.

In this live webinar, Martin Weiss, Product Director at NHR, will provide new insights on how to simplify and accelerate battery testing using NHR’s Enerchron battery test software. In this session, participants will learn how to develop a robust test plan and receive a tutorial on how to set up a sample test procedure and drive cycle sequence using variable-based programming.

Webinar Description:
Battery testing is complex, challenging and time consuming. Today’s engineers are looking for ways to accelerate and manage the complexities of test. A considerable amount of time is spent on test development, data collection and post-processing, not to mention, having to repeat this cycle when errors inevitably occur. Using the right software tool can dramatically reduce total testing time (time to results), eliminate operator errors and increase engineering productivity.

Enerchron is an advanced software solution with test creation, execution and reporting tools created for battery testing. Sophisticated, dynamic test sequences are created without requiring complex programming skills. By enabling the integration of modular power stages, third-party products and control stations, NHR creates comprehensive test environments that are unique to each application. Enerchron breaks the mold of traditional automated battery cycling through its unique variable-based test sequence editor and compatibility with third-party solutions and equipment. Battery cycling profiles can now be easily created, run and repurposed for any Unit Under Test (UUT) or test station.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn how Enerchron differs from traditional battery test software
  • Identify how to develop a robust test plan strategy
  • Get new insights on how to simplify and accelerate your battery test approach
  • Receive a tutorial on how to set up a sample test procedure & drive cycle sequence using variables

For more information on our Battery Test Solutions, visit our application page.

About NH Research

NH Research enables electrification by accelerating innovation, validation and functional testing of today’s technologies. Backed by over 50 years of experience in power conversion and power electronics test systems and instruments, our test solutions deliver the performance, simplicity, and safety that engineers and researchers in aerospace, defense, automotive and energy industries require. For more information, visit www.nhresearch.com.

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