Freudenberg Sealing Technologies expands testing capabilities for materials used with lithium-ion batteries
Freudenberg Sealing Technologies' latest investment is helping it prepare for that boom.
FST expanded the material testing capabilities at its Central Laboratory in Plymouth, adding specially designed spaces, upgraded safety equipment and access to important chemicals and solutions. The expansion allows the company to test the performance and compatibility of materials — rubber, elastomers and thermoplastics — used to safely seal and maintain lithium-ion batteries.
Technicians and chemists involved in the testing also are equipped with head-to-toe protective gear and special respirators; non-reactive, nickel-based immersion vessels; and a safety monitoring and alarm system that can detect spills, leakage, gas formation or other hazards.
New technology also allows laboratory chemists to monitor the immersion samples remotely at any time from anywhere using a laptop computer, phone or tablet.
Two electrolytic solutions are used in the testing — one commonly found in the lithium-ion batteries and one developed as a control. Families of materials developed by FST will be tested first and commercially available materials used in the batteries will be examined next.
Tests, such as those FST plans to conduct, not only require sophisticated safety equipment, they're expensive as well. For instance, the electrolytic solutions used in the testing cost several thousand dollars a gallon, FST said. Nonetheless, the company sees it as money well-spent.
"We have taken this proactive step on behalf of our customers and in response to a growing use of lithium-ion batteries in diverse applications," Walker said.
While the company did not disclose the total cost for expansion, it noted in a March 16 news release that the testing facility and capabilities required a "six-figure investment." The move puts FST in a testing arena where few reside.