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Page 66


www.us-tech.com


March, 2020


From Model Ts to EVs: The Evolution of Automotive Leak Testing


By Heidi Franklin, Marketing Manager — Industrial and Aviation Products, USA, ATEQ Corp. L


eak testing has been an essential quality test in the automotive industry for decades. A sin- gle car has more than 30,000 parts, hundreds


of which require leak testing to ensure that they are airtight. A transmission alone has 800 different


parts with seven main components. Many of these individual parts and components need to be leak tested before the final assembly of the transmission is tested, including hydrau lic sys- tem parts, seals and gaskets, pumps, turbines, torque converters, throttles and the computer.


Changes in Leak Testing As the automotive industry has evolved,


so have leak testing technologies. In the early days of vehicle manufacturing, cars were com- posed of mainly mechanical components. Simply dunking a metal part underwater and looking to see if bubbles emerged was consid- ered to be a sufficient leak test. As production became more automated,


the demand grew for integrating automatic leak tests into assembly lines, accelerating testing processes. The still-popular pressure decay leak testing method is commonly used in automated production lines. This method pressur- izes a part and determines the leak rate by meas- uring for a drop in pressure. Although the safety and electronics wave in the automotive industry is far from over, the cur-


Electric vehicle battery leak testing system. Electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, can


contain around 200 battery cells. With so many cells containing reactive chemicals, like lithium, organic solvents, polymers and nickel manganese cobalt, it is a safety necessity to leak test batter- ies at every step of the production process — from


rent trend is the mainstream emergence of hybrid and electric vehicles. The most vital leak test involved with this type of vehicle manufacturing is battery leak testing.


the battery cell to the module to the complete bat- tery tray. Because most electric vehicle batteries con-


tain liquid electrolytes inside semi-flexible pack- aging, traditional pressure-based leak test- ing is not ideal, due to potential safety and repeatability issues. Although ATEQ Corp. has been a preferred provider of dual-sensor differential pressure decay leak testing instruments by many automotive component manufacturers, the company has developed a new leak testing technology perfect for test- ing battery pouch cells.


Testing EV Batteries ATEQ’s Ioniq electrical leak tester has


been used successfully by customers for years, primarily in the plastic packaging industry, for high-speed testing of small plas- tic parts, like bottle caps. However, it has recently been discovered that a similar test method can also be customized to test electric vehicle battery cells for leaks, in particular pouch battery cells. Based off of the Ioniq, ATEQ’s new


patented B28 tester offers a safe low ionization voltage to ionize oxygen molecules in the air around the battery cell. If the battery cell is prop- erly insulated, the instrument will show a 100 per- cent reading. If there is a leak in the battery insu-


Continued on page 72


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