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SAE International Committee Develops Safety Standards for Rechargeable Cells

March 17, 2011

SAE International’s Battery Standards Committee has created safety performance standards for lithium ion battery systems. These are described as the first minimum base standards for safety performance expectations – i.e., pass-fail criteria – for lithium ion battery systems.

The document, "J2929 – Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Propulsion Battery System Safety Standard – Lithium-based Rechargeable Cells," provides a common foundation from which all battery and vehicle manufacturers can create safe battery systems. The standards will build consumer confidence in the safety of lithium ion battery systems.

"There’s no doubt lithium-ion battery technology will continue to play a vital role in the alternative powertrain systems of the future," said Galen E. Ressler, chair of the Battery Safety Standards Task Force. "As with any propulsion system, we need to assure that all of our systems are safe for our vehicle occupants. The adoption of new technologies such as advanced battery systems, require the industry to adopt new standards to increase vehicle safety, and this standard will play a vital role in making that a reality. The committee already is working on the second version of the standard, which will expand and enhance the standard to include additional aspects related to thermal propagation, flammability, toxicity, EMC and impact resistance."

SAE International battery committees are working to limit the potential for danger by developing standards that cover all aspects, from battery design, testing, storage, shipping and recycling of large advanced-technology batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid-electrics. Battery standards are useful for several reasons, but safety is paramount.

SAE International also is working with other organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association to recognize opportunities for improving EV battery safety knowledge, training, communications and vehicle designs for the First Responder community. In addition, the committees are supporting ISO12405 (electrically propelled road vehicles – test specification for Lithium-ion traction battery packs and systems) standards development.

Robert Galyen, Chair of the Vehicle Battery Standards Committee, commented on the collaboration of the document. "From project initiation to publication, these standards were completed in 13 months, a significant achievement given the sensitivity of the subject. More than 35 industry professionals from the U.S., Asia and Europe actively participated in the process, representing vehicle manufacturers, battery system and component suppliers, and other interested organizations. The diversity of this organization helps to make it a true global industry standard, Although automotive applications are significantly different than other applications, such as laptop computers, there have been safety related concerns with lithium ion batteries. Creation of these standards will help to ease concerns."

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