Frequently Asked Questions

Planning for and Integrating EV Test Cell Projects

Planning

Q:

I’m not sure if I have adequate power in my facility for electrification testing. What should I do?

It’s important to understand all connected loads and most importantly the diversity of your testing operation. ACS can assist you with evaluating your connected load and applying a diversity factor to determine your overall power needs. Once the overall power requirements are known, an evaluation of your current switch gear and utility feeds can be completed to determine if any upgrades are necessary.

Q:

I’ve already bought some test equipment. What are the next steps for getting it installed in my lab?

Always start with a solid plan to ensure that the layout of equipment within your test space is well thought out and that all support utilities are available. We recommend hiring an experienced system integrator and contractors who understand the complexities of a test facility.

Q:

I need help to define and refine my requirements. Can ACS assist me?

Absolutely. We start by understanding and documenting your specific testing goals and requirements. From there, we can work with your team to create the design criteria that will guide performance specifications and ultimately, your equipment selection.

Test Equipment Considerations

Q:

Does ACS work with specific brands of test equipment?

ACS works with a wide variety of test equipment suppliers which allows us to choose the best solution for each client and project. Our own internal staff designs and builds custom equipment to fit your specific needs. We can help you evaluate all the options so you can make an informed decision about your equipment for electrification testing.

Q:

What are the major components I need to test battery packs?

A battery cycler and a climatic chamber are two key components needed for testing battery packs. After that, it really depends on the specific type of development you are planning. Additional testing components may include shaker tables, drop test stations, dust chambers, inverter emulators, etc. We have helped many clients determine exactly what they need, now and for the future.

Q:

What are the major components I need to test e-motors?

You will need a power source, an inverter, and a dynamometer to load the e-motor. These functions can be accomplished either via live systems or simulators. Additional components could include a climatic chamber, fluid conditioning for the e-motor and of course, all the necessary safety equipment.

Q:

I’m a third-party test provider. What speed of dynamometer should I consider?

When testing e-motors directly, faster is better. Manufacturers continue to push the limits and increase the output speed of traction motors in vehicle applications. Many new dynamometer systems are in the 20,000 to 25,000 RPM range.

Q:

How do I protect for ever-changing voltage and current outputs of battery packs?

It is difficult to do since manufacturers are developing both higher voltage and higher current packs for today’s and tomorrow’s vehicles. There are modular battery simulator/cycler solutions that provide some modularity, allowing you to increase voltage and current levels.

Test Cell Considerations

Q:

I have an existing fueled test cell that I want to repurpose for EV testing. What should I consider?

ACS can work with your team to identify the specific upgrades and safety considerations required for the transformation to EV testing and put together a plan outlining the various options and associated costs.

Q:

I’ve heard of modular/containerized rooms being used for EV testing. What are the advantages?

ACS has delivered electrified test cells in both traditional brick and mortar as well as modular buildings. The right answer depends on your specific needs and situation. Modular solutions allow more work to be completed off-site and result in less construction/installation on-site. Modular solutions can also be installed as a stand-alone structure, creating separation from existing buildings, which is a safety advantage.

Q:

Do I need to have a mezzanine above my test cell?

Not necessarily. It is nice to have the extra space to locate some of the support equipment but mounting this equipment on the main level is always an option.

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Q:

I’m leasing a building. Are there any specific precautions I should take?

Check with your landlord to be sure you understand any restrictions on your lease. A modular solution may be a good option for you to minimize the construction work to the building.

Q:

I’m considering installing my test stand in an open space. Or does it need to be in a dedicated test room?

When deciding open space for your new test stand vs. a dedicated room, it is critical to consider all potential hazards and ensure the new test stand has adequate safety systems in place. This ensures a safe working environment both for the operator and anyone in the surrounding area.

Q:

Are there any acoustic considerations I should account for in designing my test cells?

There are two considerations you want to keep in mind. First is whether you plan to conduct any acoustical tests in this cell and second, you will want to make sure the modular cell is acoustically isolated from other sensitive work or outdoor space nearby.

Facility/Test Integration

Q:

I think I need to upgrade my power in the facility to conduct EV testing. What should I do next?

Start first by understanding your connected loads and the diversity of your testing setup. Based on your testing diversity, ACS can assist you in identifying your true power needs and then designing a power distribution system specific for you and your building. If necessary, ACS can work with your utility provider to upgrade your service.

Q:

What are my options for providing cooling for the test cells, climatic chambers, etc?

There are several options for providing cooling to your test cells and test articles. The true heat rejection of the test process needs to be understood and then an appropriate HVAC system can be designed.

Q:

Can ACS help me to integrate my test stands into the building automation system?

Yes, we can. It is critically important to have all safety systems fully integrated with any building fire protection or alarm systems. We can also integrate building automation systems such as HVAC and lighting.

Q:

I have multiple test stands. How can I aggregate all my data?

A test automation solution will allow data from different sources to be integrated into a single repository at a test cell level. At the lab level, ACS can specify and provide a lab management system that allows all test stands in a lab to be managed on a centralized basis.

Safety

Q:

Do I need a safety rated PLC to monitor my test process

A PLC with a SIL (Safety Integrity Level) rating will help reduce the overall risk level of your test process. ACS can help you evaluate the correct SIL and ensure that all safety monitoring devices are properly specified and installed.

Q:

What should I install in terms of fire detection and prevention?

The type of testing you are performing will play a large part in determining what you should install for fire prevention and protection. There are several great technologies that can be implemented to best reduce the potential risk of fire. Early involvement of your risk management team as well as the local fire marshal are key to finding the best solution.

Q:

Do I need hazardous gas detection in my test cell?

The materials and types of testing you are performing need to be evaluated to determine the potential hazards and off-gassing. Any gas detection installed can be tied into the SIL-rated PLC system.

Q:

I’ve heard of using burn boxes to contain battery fires. Is that an option?

Containing a battery fire is critical to ensuring a safe testing environment. Whether or not a burn box is a viable or optimal solution for your case depends on a host of factors including the size of the pack, the specific tests to be executed (cycling vs. destructive), and its relative location within the facility. Alternative mitigation measures include water bath/deluge, high airflow, inert gas purge, and others. As with other test facility design aspects, ACS can help evaluate and/or validate your options.