Fuel Cell and Solar Test Equipment Information
Battery, fuel cell and solar test equipment consists of specialized test stations, stands or systems, monitors and component modules for performance or endurance testing. Test stands or systems may include load banks, test controllers, gas or fuel supply modules, temperature control modules (e.g., ovens and chillers), and data acquisition units. Battery testers, monitors, and analyzers and diagnostic systems monitor overall or cell voltage, charge, amperage, DC resistance, or temperature to indicate battery condition or performance.
There are several ways to mount, operate, and integrate battery, fuel cell and solar test equipment. Some equipment, such as the diagnostic systems used in laboratories, mounts on a panel or rack, or stores in a cabinet. Other equipment is handheld and portable, or designed for bench or desktop applications. Transducers, IC chips, and OEM sensors integrate testing into the energy storage product directly.
Battery, fuel cell and solar test equipment can be used to test a variety of energy storage products, including batteries, photovoltaic (PV) cells, fuel cells, and supercapacitors. Batteries convert energy into electrical current. PV solar power supplies convert light directly into electricity. Fuel cells include specialized systems and modules for performance or endurance testing. Ultracapacitors, or “super capacitors”, store energy electrostatically within an electrolytic solution between two nonreactive porous plates. Ultracapacitors can be charged and discharged hundreds of thousands of times.
Battery testers and fuel cell test equipment provide a variety of test capabilities. These features include AC, line, and endurance testing; impedance, voltage, and current measurement; and conductance measurement capability. Some battery testers and fuel cell test equipment generate a voltage-current plot and determine the Tafel constant. The voltage-current plot indicates the power and efficiency of an individual cell or fuel cell stack. The Tafel constant is used in calculations of the voltage-current density relationship at the electrochemical level.
Special features also distinguish different types of battery, fuel cell and solar test equipment. Some devices include alarms and buzzers to provide an audible or visible indication that an energy system has reached a particular condition. Other devices allow operators to run fault diagnostics and provide power management. Automated battery testers and fuel cell test equipment can operate without operator intervention.
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Battery Packs and Assemblies
Battery packs are constructed from two or more individual cells or batteries. There are two basic types of battery packs: primary and secondary or rechargeable.
Disposable (Primary) Batteries
Disposable primary batteries are replaced once the energy supply is depleted. Their energy is produced when the materials within the battery react and are exhausted.
Lead Acid Batteries
Lead acid batteries are made up of plates, lead, and lead oxide with a 35% sulfuric acid and 65% water electrolyte solution.
Lithium batteries have a lithium anode. They are available as both primary batteries and secondary batteries.
Rechargeable (Secondary) Batteries
Rechargeable batteries or secondary batteries contain active materials that can be regenerated by charging. When the energy produced by rechargeable batteries drops below optimum efficiency, secondary batteries may be recharged in a couple of ways, depending upon their construction.
Reserve batteries are designed to retain their charge during long storage periods. The electrolyte is kept separate from the rest of battery to avoid self-discharge.