There are a number of ways to test the health of a vehicle battery.
For example, by measuring voltage levels and performing an impedance test, where a current is passed through the battery to measure internal resistance and identify corrosion. Battery monitors may also record the depth of discharge and remaining capacity, or stored charge.
In a live Tech Briefs presentation late last year titled Beyond Battery Cycling: Testing Batteries in the Automotive Industry, a reader had the following question for an industry expert at the London-based test inspection provider Element Materials Technology:
Consumers are demanding longer lifespans for their batteries. Which tests are best for ensuring a longer life?
Read the response from Mike Pendleton, GM at Element Materials Technology, below.
Mike Pendleton, Element Materials Technology: Determining longevity and capacity of battery packs over time is typically done through life-cycle or drive-cycle testing. The idea is to take a battery and simulate its use case.
That means charging it up to 100 percent and discharging it down to 20% and repeating that a million times, and then intermittently, every 10,000 or 100,000 cycles, do a capacity check, to see where the capacity sits.
Typically, that’s the way testing is handled: You go through and determine, over time, the degradation of the battery in respect to capacity, and that helps you to determine the life of your cell, just through simulation of use.
One interesting note: Automotive studies are starting to show that some of the 100% down to 20% [capacity checks] maybe aren’t quite so accurate. There could be some increased life capacity found. There’s a little more study to be done there.
But that’s typically how you’d test [the battery]: Run it through its typical drive cycle and determine the capacity life
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