TECH SA: SwRI studies batteries to make them safer for consumers

By Tiffany Huertas - Video Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - Southwest Research Institute employees are studying car batteries with the hope of making them safer and more efficient.

“What we will often do is be asked to understand how a particular automotive manufacturer used a battery,” said Terry Alger, director of automotive propulsions systems.

At the Energy Storage Technology Center, SwRI employees remove the battery from a vehicle, then watch it degrade over time to find out how long it will last. Employees also test the safety of batteries, making sure they can withstand crashes and other damage they may encounter on roadways.

“The ultimate goal for this facility is to improve the state of the industry of the battery, so we produce vehicles that are more fuel efficient, cost effective and safer for the consumer,” Alger said.

Alger said they also share their research with safety groups.

“There’s a big concern," Alger said. "They catch fire. Not only are they dangerous on the electrical energy that’s in there, but chemicals that are in the battery when they burn that can be toxic."

The team hopes to establish itself as the nation’s leader for this kind of research.

Since 2010, SwRI has run more than 40,000 vehicle batteries through a number of tests.

The facility opened in March 2018.

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