Company Develops Testing Systems to Improve Conventional Rechargeable Batteries

By: Contributor Last Updated: February 10, 2011

PurdueLogoNuVant Systems Inc., based in the Purdue Research Park of Northwest Indiana, has upgraded the software in two of its electrochemical analysis systems for use by manufacturers of consumer and commercial batteries.

"The upgrades allow researchers to study batteries that deliver currents ranging from microamps to multiple amps," said Eugene S. Smotkin, founder of NuVant Systems and professor of materials chemistry at Northeastern University in Boston. "The EZstat can be used to study miniature batteries while the Powerstat can be used for larger batteries such as those used in automobiles and industrial UPS systems. The programming enables limitless power use scenarios for battery testers and developers and up to five instruments can be operated by one computer."

Software upgrades to the EZstat and Powerstat products allow researchers - including original equipment manufacturers, third-party battery testers, university researchers and national laboratories - to study batteries' recharge and discharge properties.

"It enables the discharging and recharging of test batteries under realistic operating conditions. When a battery is used to power a device, the battery is discharging. The current has to be reversed in order to recharge it," Smotkin said. "The software upgrades allow the EZstat and Powerstat to work as though they were an electrical device or a recharger. They record the voltage and current of the battery as it discharges and recharges."

Battery developers and manufacturers will find that NuVant's products enable detailed study of fading, or the degrading of batteries as they go through a cycle of discharging and recharging, Smotkin said.

"One of the primary efforts of battery developers is to lessen this fading phenomenon. They do this by improving the composition and structure of the electrodes," he said. "Each time they develop a new set of electrodes, or electrolytes, they need to check the fading characteristics of the battery. The EZstat and Powerstat systems can be used for this purpose because of the new software."

Smotkin says the EZstat and Powerstat battery testing technology will be Bluetooth compatible by 2012.

"Batteries sometimes are used in unfriendly environments, and in those cases remote control operation will come in handy," he said. "Bluetooth-compatible instruments can be operated remotely. This also opens the door to operate the technology from a cell phone."

One of the first customers of NuVant's battery testing technology is Ceramatec Inc. of Salt Lake City.

"NuVant's battery test equipment provides Ceramatec with a low-cost alternative to other battery test equipment, yet still possesses all of the functionality and robustness required for modern battery testing laboratories," said Ceramatec chemist Chett Boxley. "This, along with NuVant's superior customer service, makes this battery test equipment an excellent choice for any researcher."