Three scientists have been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their pioneering work on lithium-ion batteries. The Nobel Committee said: “Lithium-ion batteries are used globally to power the portable electronics that we use to communicate, work, study, listen to music and search for knowledge.”
John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino share the USD 900 000 (nine million kronor) prize money for the development of the lightweight, rechargeable, energy efficient and powerful battery. Nowadays it is used in everything from mobile phones to electric cars.
IEC International Standards and Conformity Assessment (CA) Systems are more crucial than ever to establish and test the performance requirements and safety specifications for batteries. Battery technology has hit the headlines recently because of the flammable properties of Lithium-ion.
During 2018, around 23 electric energy storage accidents at utilities in South Korea were reported due to battery-provoked fires. Short circuits, overcharge, over-discharge, mechanical damage and high temperatures can lead to thermal runaway, fire, and explosion in the batteries.
IEC TC 21 is one of several IEC technical committees preparing standards for cells and batteries. The TC’s work is divided into two distinct areas covering different battery technologies.
Subcommittee 21A has the task of preparing standards for batteries with alkaline electrolyte, such as NiCad or nickel–metal-hydride, and TC 21 focuses on batteries with acid electrolyte called lead-acid. Both share the work on lithium-ion batteries.
According to a forecast by the International Energy Agency, the number of EVs on the world’s roads will increase from 3 million to 125 million by 2030. In 2018, IEC TC 21 published several important documents, including a second edition of IEC 62660-2 which is part of the IEC 62660 series on secondary Li-ion cells for the propulsion of EVs.
IEC 62660 has three different parts: the first deals with performance testing, the second with reliability tests and the third with safety requirements. The purpose of IEC 62660-2 is to provide a basic reliability and abuse testing methodology for Li-ion cells which can be used in a diverse range of automobile battery packs and systems.
IECEE (IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components) is one of the four CA systems administered by the IEC. It runs a scheme which tests the safety, performance component interoperability, energy efficiency, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), hazardous substances, etc. of batteries, chargers and charging stations.
The expansion of the transport sector, in particular in terms of EVs, e-bikes, mobility scooters and buses, as well as of electrical energy storage needs for the renewable energy sector, smart grid applications and the rapid growth of the portable devices market, points to the continued healthy development of the secondary battery sector. To sustain growth, IEC TC 21 and SC 21A will ensure that equipment manufacturers using secondary batteries have safe and dependable products available, and will continue to prepare new as well as update existing international standards in a burgeoning sector.
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