Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne to study safer handling of electric vehicle batteries after accidents

September 17, 2012

Researchers in Argonne's Vehicle Systems group will be receiving $1.5 million in funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop a procedure for managing the stranded energy left in high-voltage electric vehicle battery packs after an accident.

A vehicle collision can cause internal battery pack damage or a break in the system's contactors, which would make it difficult to access information on the battery's condition. Such a situation can present a danger to responders who are tasked with towing away the wreckage, and in the storage and eventual scrapping of the wrecked vehicle. The battery's stored energy, if not addressed immediately, can pose a serious danger to workers or result in a battery fire even weeks after the accident. 

Argonne will develop a universal tool which will enable a quick analysis of the internal condition and charged state of the damaged battery, as well as a procedure for the safe discharge of the stranded energy. The work includes a demonstration for NHTSA of these capabilities on sample battery systems.