Insights from industry

An Introduction to xEV Sensors - For Thermal Runaway Detection, Coolant Leak Detection, and Cell Connection Systems

insights from industryBrian EngleBusiness Development ManagerAmphenol Advanced Sensors

In this interview, AZoSensors talks to Brian Engle, Business Development Manager for Amphenol Advanced Sensors, about xEV sensors for Thermal Runaway Detection (REDTR), Coolant Leak Detection, and Cell Connection Systems (CCS).

Can you give a brief overview of your company and the types of products you produce?

Amphenol Advanced Sensors is a major producer of sensor technologies and embedded measurement solutions with core technologies in the measurement of temperature, pressure, gas, and moisture. AAS' sensors cover a wide range of applications, including transportation, industrial, and medical applications with a special focus supporting battery, electrification, and efficiency initiatives.

What applications do REDTR sensors have in EV/HEVs?

While rare, battery thermal runaway incidents can occur from a variety of external and internally driven cell failures. The Robust Early Detection of Thermal Runaway (REDTR) Sensor was developed for both mobile and stationary lithium-ion (L-ion) battery systems to detect battery cell venting that is associated with thermal runaway.  

How do your REDTR sensors respond to cell venting?

REDTR responds to the decomposition product gases released from a lithium-ion (L-ion) battery cell within an enclosure by detecting the flammable gas that is released when a failing cell vents. Within a confined space, these flammable gases can exceed the Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) in a few seconds, and cells can also release hazardous gases, such as Dimethyl Carbonate, at concentrations that are unsafe for human respiration. Amphenol's sensors can quickly and accurately measure these concentrations and alert the battery management system of the venting within seconds, allowing for aggressive countermeasures to mitigate cascade failure of the battery array, and can do so for various electrochemistries including NCA, NMC, and LFP regardless of cell size or type, from small cylindrical cells, pouch cells to prismatic designs. The gas sensors have been proven to be faster at detecting cell venting than temperature, pressure, smoke, or voltage-based detection methods. Furthermore, the core sensor technologies deployed in the REDTR platform have been specifically designed for extremely long life, with no recalibration or replacement required, to survive in battery systems that may be in service for 10 to 20 years.

What is the importance of detecting the presence of water and coolant in an EV/HEVs Battery Management System?

Water and many battery coolants are electrically conductive.  If the battery coolant system is breached, or if water enters the pack through damage or flooding, there is a risk that this fluid can cause a short circuit in the pack, which can result in electrocution and/or fire. Amphenol's coolant breach/water detection sensor can detect the presence of these liquids in the bottom of the battery pack/array and can quickly provide an indication of this condition to the battery management system, allowing the BMS to take quick action to bring the system to a safe condition.

What advantages does Amphenol’s Coolant Leak Detection Sensor have over anything else on the market? 

Amphenol’s coolant leak detection sensor is designed for On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) compliance and can detect as little as 3mm of coolant or water in the bottom of an enclosure. The sensor is compact and easy to install with conventional tools and will last the life of the battery pack without maintenance or replacement. Tight design and process controls on this product have set a new standard of quality for safety devices.

What is the basic theory behind a Cell Connection System?

Amphenol’s Cell Connection System (CCS) provides the high voltage bussing and the low voltage sensor signals for current, voltage, and module temperature to the Battery Management System (BMS). Low profile CCS bus bars weld directly to the battery cell terminals and provide module-level connections and are optimized to accommodate cell swelling while monitoring critical cell and module parameters and can include printed fusible links to meet high Safety Index Level (SIL) requirements in an extremely low profile, high-value package.  Amphenol's Cell Connection Systems are designed for seamless integration in "cell to module" and "cell to pack" designs. Co-developed by Amphenol's engineering teams, the CCS design features and process controls were designed to integrate smoothly from battery cell packaging and attachment through pack manufacturing and control from terminal welding, material handling, pack installation, and traceability.

What freedoms do the sensing capabilities of Amphenol’s Cell Connection System allow OEMs?

Amphenol's CCS system can be configured for various cell types (cylindrical, pouch, or prismatic) and different series/parallel geometries to allow for customization for application-specific needs. Amphenol optimizes sensor placement for the highest accuracy measurement, supported by a multidisciplinary engineering team who can support modeling and analysis, as well as functional and cost optimization of designs for best customer value, backed by deep knowledge of electrical system design and processing of flex, wired, and stamped bus designs from cell terminal high and low voltage connectivity, with fully integrated sensor designs.

What’s next for Amphenol Sensors?

Amphenol Advanced Sensors' technology team develops sensing solutions to meet Medical, Industrial, and Transportation fields by developing core sensing technologies and application-specific designs as needed.  The portfolio grows using organic R&D efforts partnered with customers, research universities, and government laboratories, as well as through the acquisition of new Amphenol family members.  As we grow the portfolio, we leverage deep technical expertise to help the industry solve the most pressing sensing challenges to make the world a cleaner and safer place.  We invite customers to bring their most critical sensor needs to challenge us to develop new solutions.

About Brian Engle

Brian EngleAs Business Development Manager for Amphenol Advanced Sensors, Brian Engle is responsible for developing new technologies and partnerships to address emerging sensor needs within various industries.

With over 30 years of experience in research, development, and business roles within global OEM and Tier 1 automotive companies, Brian Engle blends system engineering disciplines with business acumen to develop cost-effective solutions to the most challenging needs within the industry.  As an active member of SAE, Brian supports a number of battery and xEV safety initiatives and through participation in the global NAATBATT consortium, works together with OEM's, xEV supply chain partners, and the government to develop technology to support the rapidly growing xEV and battery storage market.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

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