Battery technology remains a major challenge for developers of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. With a three- to five-year life span, every hour of battery life counts in determining vehicle cost-effectiveness. Moreover, concentrated temperature gradients, indicating heat buildup within a battery module or across a battery pack, can shorten battery life by causing accelerated corrosion, chemical imbalances, and thermal strains on electrode materials. To address these problems, engineers at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) Vehicle Systems Research Department use thermal imaging to better understand how the batteries behave under certain conditions, such as experimental fast-charging completed within 20 minutes or at extreme temperatures. The imaging can rapidly and accurately identify energy-wasting hot spots, unpredictable gradients, and transient behaviors. Without thermal imaging, engineers must use thermocouples placed at a discrete number of sites on the batteries to obtain temperature distributions. Not only is this costly, but thermocouples interfere with the taking of sensitive measurements. FAX Elizabeth Douglas at (210) 522-3547.
One way to keep a Formula One racing team moving at breakneck speed in the pit and at the test facility is to bring CAD drawings of the racing vehicleís parts down to the test facility and even out to the track.
Most of us would just as soon step on a cockroach rather than study it, but thatís just what researchers at UC Berkeley did in the pursuit of building small, nimble robots suitable for disaster-recovery and search-and-rescue missions.
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