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TARDEC's Energy Storage Lab (ESL) contains the research, testing and development capabilities to conduct full life-cycle engineering and integration support for all Army ground vehicle advanced chemistry batteries and energy storage applications.
If the technology provides starting power, lighting, hybrid vehicle boost acceleration, regenerative braking energy capture, silent watch ability or other battery-powered functions in military ground vehicles (MGVs), it will be tested by ESL engineers and technicians.
The lab's studies will make an impact on the entire Department of Defense by developing standard-form-factor lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries suitable for direct drop-in replacement of lead-acid batteries currently used in MGVs. Certain Li-ion batteries have the capacity to deliver three to four times the energy and up to 10 times the power density at almost half the weight of current lead-acid batteries. This testing and validation could help strengthen the domestic commercial battery manufacturing base and possibly help create new jobs.
The Energy Storage Team operates three testing areas at the Detroit Arsenal — the Electrochemical Analysis & Research Laboratory (EARL), the Battery Management System Laboratory (BMS Lab) and the ESL.
GSPEL testing and research will enable the Energy Storage Team to improve battery designs, increase energy storage capacity, augment energy storage systems, shorten recharge times, and improve pulse-power technology to ensure that Soldiers have access to the latest in battery and ultra-capacitor technologies for MGV applications.
Some lab highlights include three explosion-proof battery test chambers (enabling safe testing of 10-60 kW advanced chemistry battery packs), expanded electrochemical lab capabilities with a 250 kW power supply and multiple battery cyclers, and a state-of-the-art data acquisition system.
The ESL also provides two external battery pack test chambers and two storage units, which are all equipped with advanced safety features to protect against fire, explosions and gas release.
Additionally, the lab contains multiple environmental chambers that can test batteries and ultra-capacitors in temperatures ranging from minus 99 degrees to about 350 degrees F with humidity levels ranging from arid desert conditions to tropical rain forest. We asked Energy Storage Team Deputy Team Leader David Skalny a few questions about the lab:
What capabilities does this lab provide that weren't previously available?
The lab provides the capability to safely test batteries all the way from the cell to the pack level. Additionally, the lab will allow TARDEC to conduct a majority of lead-acid battery qualification tests in-house.
How will the research done here benefit the Army, and Soldiers in particular?
Research done in TARDEC's battery labs will help to improve battery safety and reliability, and reduce cost. Additionally, improvements in battery life and performance will help extend silent watch durations and reduce battery logistics and sustainment costs.
What dual-use benefits are expected? In other words, where else can this technology be used after it's been tested/developed at the ESL?
Energy storage technologies being developed by TARDEC can be used in applications including commercial passenger vehicles and commercial trucks. For example, the Li-ion 6T battery is being considered for use in commercial truck anti-idle applications in addition to MGV silent watch applications.
What is the first project you will test at the new lab?
The first projects in the new laboratory will focus on continued lead-acid 6T performance and life characterization tests, as well as determining the cycle life of Li-ion 6T drop-in replacement batteries.