There are many reasons why more and more people are looking into fuel-efficient, cleaner-running cars. From soaring gas prices to national security and global warming, people around the world are beginning to turn to hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). While today’s hybrid vehicles use nickel metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries for energy storage, many in the automotive industry believe that lithium-ion batteries are soon to replace NiMH as the standard in HEV and plug-in HEVs.

However, lithium-ion batteries have some safety issues associated with them. Lithium-ion batteries are less durable than other batteries, such as NiMH, and can be very dangerous if mistreated. They can easily rupture, ignite, or explode when exposed to high temperatures. To ensure that lithium-ion batteries are safe for use in HEVs many manufacturers are employing various methods of environmental testing.

Thermotron has been a partner with the automotive industry for over 40 years. Recently, Thermotron has been able to provide automotive lithium-ion battery manufacturers specialized equipment and features that have proven to be the solution to their unique testing specifications.

SE-Series environmental test chambers are engineered to provide the most accurate and reliable test results in the marketplace. Able to produce temperatures ranging from 180°C to -70°C (356°F to -94°F), SE-Series chambers feature application-specific compressor selections from 3 to 15 Hp and several size configurations ranging from 10 to 69 cubic feet allowing the test chamber to be tailored to meet individual testing needs. The patented modular humidity system allows the SE-Series to reach 10% to 98% RH. Optimized airflow systems provide conditioning throughout the entire workspace, providing more consistent test results, improving product temperature change rates. It also means better performance, greater accuracy and tighter uniformity throughout the chamber for consistent stress on products being tested.

Featuring Thermotron’s 8800 Programmer Controller with touch screen interface, this chamber has a brilliant 12” color touch screen display, is Ethernet-compatible and serves as a web-enabled front end for virtual anytime/anywhere access.

The optional, patented Universal Port in the sidewall allows for interface with slide-up modules, expanding the environmental chamber’s ability to perform thermal shock tests, HALT and HASS, product test system integration and remote conditioning applications.

With its large workspace measuring 48” X 48” X 52” (122 cm X 122 cm X 132 cm), Thermotron’s SE-2000 is a great option for lithium-ion battery testing. Available with a minimal spark interior, the SE-2000 is offered with attractive options like blow off pressure relief panels and cam locks that protect both the product and the operator during testing. Specialized shelving and fixtures are also available to allow for the easy loading and unloading of batteries and battery packs.

Another great option is the Thermotron combined environment test chambers, also known as AGREE Chambers, which provide the flexibility to adapt to changing test requirements. The chambers, available in temperature or temperature/humidity configurations, can be integrated with a Thermotron DSX Series electrodynamic or RS/RSL repetitive shock shaker. Versatility of the chambers can be further enhanced with the addition of double doors, vertical lift or sliding doors, adjustable height, or floor plug cart assemblies.

Thermotron AGREE Chambers feature cascade cooling and fast temperature change rates. Standard temperature transition rates of 5°C per minute up to 30°C per minute are available. Faster change rates can be achieved using LN2 or CO2 boost or multiple refrigeration machine sections. The high performance chambers have a temperature range -73°C to +177°C and a variable humidity range of 20% to 95% RH on some models.

Thermotron’s AGREE Chambers are equipped with the 8800 Programmer Controller. With a large 12″ color touch screen display, the 8800 Programmer Controller makes operation and data collection easier and more reliable than ever before. It has a Windows look and feel to support familiar and robust operations. The 8800 is Ethernet-compatible and web-enabled with an internet-ready front end for anytime/anywhere access. When working with lithium-ion batteries explosions are a very real, very dangerous threat during testing. That is why Thermotron has developed AGREE Chambers available with a minimal spark interior package and blow off pressure relief panels helping to maintain safety during testing.

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