NSWC Crane collaborates with Purdue researchers to build lab-based battery testing capability and improve battery performance

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) continues to work with researchers at Purdue University to establish laboratory testing capability, improve performance, and improve the safety of lithium-ion batteries. Since signing a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Purdue in 2018, Navy and university teams have launched a test lab, conducted unique research, developed modeling and simulation (M&S) techniques and published nine academic papers about their efforts. .

Dr. Kyle Crompton, chief engineer at NSWC Crane, has been leading this effort since 2017 to build an experimental lithium-ion cell manufacturing and testing lab at Crane and collaborate with Purdue on research. Dr. Crompton was a Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) fellow who leveraged internal funding from the NSWC Crane Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) for several years to train this ability.

“Setting up the lab and establishing the relationship with Purdue has been exciting,” says Dr. Crompton. “We had to take risks, focus on the long-term vision and pursue science. The ultimate goal is to produce new knowledge and information, where people can seize it and benefit from it, whether they are in the military, academia or industry. Not only have we published research, but we have datasets that can be mined in a public repository.

Lithium-ion batteries power everyday technologies, from personal electronics such as cell phones and electric toothbrushes to larger technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs), large power grid sources and batteries relief for buildings and facilities. Lithium-ion batteries are popular mobile energy resources due to their light weight, high energy density and recharging.

NSWC Crane has over 60 years of experience supporting energy storage systems. For example, the Airborne and Space Energy Systems Branch, of which Mr. Crompton was formerly Director, has capabilities such as systems engineering and test and evaluation for aircraft, satellite and spacecraft energy storage. spatial. This includes battery engineering for military systems such as fighter jets and missiles.

The US Navy requires rigorous testing of these batteries prior to use on DoD systems to ensure full functionality and safety. This rigorous testing process for high-power lithium-ion batteries can be expensive and dangerous.

“Lithium-ion batteries have a higher energy density, can store more energy per battery mass with up to five times the storage capacity of traditional batteries. They are lighter and smaller, which is a big plus,” says Dr Crompton. “However, with more energy comes a security challenge.”

Dr Crompton says thermal runaway is the biggest safety issue with lithium-ion batteries.

“This can happen when lithium-ion batteries are abused and cause a rapid fire or explosion,” says Dr Crompton. “The mitigation of this security issue is currently based on extensive testing and containment engineering. Our idea was to develop and validate a model that can replace some tests and therefore save time and money. Thanks At CRADA with Purdue, we have made substantial progress in building a detailed 3D model that can simulate the thermal runaway of lithium-ion batteries.This is an ambitious goal, with much more research and development still needed. But in about 4 years, we’ve made a lot of progress.

He says Purdue and NSWC Crane have complementary capabilities for this simulation-based experimentation and research.

“The collaboration has been mutually beneficial; Purdue has expertise in modeling and theory and NSWC Crane has unique laboratory testing capability,” says Dr Crompton.

Dr. Jason Ostanek, assistant professor at Purdue University and temporary faculty member at NSWC Crane, leads the collaborative research from a Purdue perspective. He works at the Applied Thermo-Fluids Laboratory with students on a wide variety of projects. Prior to working at Purdue, Dr. Ostanek was employed at the Philadelphia Division of NSWC for several years. He says individual battery cells, when operating within their specified parameters, are not at risk of catching fire.

“The reputation of the lithium-ion battery is that it catches fire,” says Dr. Ostanek. “In reality, the failure rate of individual cells is one in tens of millions. Batteries in naval platforms, like ships, are much larger and consist of thousands of individual cells connected together. In these large systems, the risk of failure increases, first because there are more points of failure, but second because it is more difficult to maintain each individual battery cell within its specified operating parameters. It is a standard process that these large battery systems must go through a certification process before being put into service. Only after a battery has passed this process can it be used in the fleet; this process is extremely expensive and time consuming. For example, if you were to certify a cell phone battery, testing would be quick and easy, and if the battery was destroyed during testing, that’s okay. That’s where this project comes in.”

Dr. Ostanek says the Purdue team is modeling the physics of battery failures.

“There is a lot of research and data available on single cell batteries with which we can verify our modeling, but there is much less data available when you have multiple battery cells similar to those used by the Navy,” says Dr Ostanek. “There are a lot of variables and it’s much more complicated. The computer simulation requires many inputs: battery geometry, dimensions, arrangement of different materials, and the amount of heat the battery creates when it fails. »

Dr. Ostanek says there are several challenges to this effort that provides valuable research results.

“Battery failures are accompanied by messy thermophysical processes that lead to great variability in the outcome of a failure – you can experiment ten times and get a range of responses,” says Dr Ostanek. “It takes time to develop theory, models, interpret results, program and get it running quickly. We model the generation of gases, the ventilation and the combustion of these gases, which nobody has done before with battery modules. Thanks to these advances, we are getting closer to capturing the variability observed in experimental tests. If we continue to build capacity, to capture the key physical process, our models will have greater predictive ability and may one day help complete the certification process.

Dr. Crompton says these research efforts are adding to the knowledge base on the performance and safety of lithium-ion batteries.

“Our basic and applied research can help get future batteries safely and reliably to DoD platforms safely,” says Dr. Crompton. “This helps to provide overall capability, reliability and an improved knowledge level of the workforce. Going forward, we want to continue to develop the general modeling capability, but we are also starting to take advantage of the models developed so far by using them to solve problems of narrower and more specific aspects of battery safety. lithium ions.

About CDSN Crane | NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in expeditionary warfare, strategic missions, and electronic warfare. The Warfare Center is responsible for multi-domain, multi-spectral, full lifecycle support of technologies and systems that enhance the capability of today’s Warfighter.

Join our team! NAVSEA employs a diverse, highly skilled, educated and skilled workforce – from students and entry-level employees to experienced professionals and people with disabilities. We support today’s Navy and Marine Corps ships, aircraft, weapon systems, and sophisticated computer systems. We are always looking for engineers, scientists, IT and cybersecurity specialists, as well as trade and other support professionals to ensure the United States Navy can protect and defend America. Please contact NSWC Crane Human Resources at [email protected]

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