Keep the engine running

Safety and performance of batteries certified by IECEE

By Claire Marchand

As EVs (electric vehicles) make their comeback — they were first seen in the 1900s and then briefly in the 1970s — much of the focus is on batteries, their main power source. Fuel-powered and hybrid cars, trucks, buses, locomotives and aircraft also rely on batteries to start their engine or, in some cases, the APU (auxiliary power unit).

...and for aircraft - charging process shown here ...and for aircraft - charging process shown here

Fuel-powered electric vehicles need batteries

Automotive batteries are rechargeable batteries that supply electric energy to automobiles, buses and trucks, powering the starter, the lights, and the ignition system of a vehicle’s engine.

Traction batteries are used as the main power source of EVs, be they cars, buses, locomotives and any other type of electric vehicle.

Aircraft use batteries as well

Like car batteries, aircraft batteries serve to start the engines or the auxiliary power unit. But their role doesn’t stop there. They are an essential component of the aircraft. In-flight electrical generation failure is an emergency that calls on the batteries to power the essential loads until landing and evacuation. They have even been used to restart the engines after the rare cases of engine flame-out. They also act as a buffer regulating the DC (direct current) network voltage, ensuring acceptable power quality for the equipment connected to it.

Standardizing batteries

IEC TC (Technical Committee) 21: Secondary cells and batteries, is developing International Standards that deal with methods of tests and specific requirements for batteries used in fuel-powered and electric vehicles as well as in aircraft.

IEC TC 69: Electric road vehicles and electric industrial trucks, is developing International Standards that cover wiring and connectors for traction batteries, rotating machines (traction and auxiliary motors) for EVs.

Testing and certifying batteries

IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components, is another essential player when it comes to certifying batteries. The IECEE CB Scheme, through its registered CBTLs (Certification Body Testing Laboratories), and NCBs (National Certification Bodies), can test and certify the batteries used in fuel-powered cars, EVs and aircraft against IEC International Standards, the IEC 61982 series in particular.

When testing and certifying EV batteries, IECEE focuses on multiple aspects. Electrical energy storage is an important element that will have an impact on EV range and battery-charging frequency. Endurance and lifespan are also under scrutiny.

To avoid risks such as overheating and short circuits, parameters such as voltage, current, power and temperature also need to be measured and tested.

IECEE tackles hazardous substances

Many countries have passed, or are considering, legislation limiting the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic products, including batteries. Consequently, manufacturers are under great pressure to produce "clean" products in order to comply with said legislation.

The IECEE has started a CA (Conformity Assessment) programme for hazardous substances in response to manufacturers’ need to offer products that meet hazardous-substance-free specific local, national and international requirements.

List of IEC International Standards

Many IEC International Standards are used as a basis for testing and certifying all types of batteries. Among those, some are specific to automotive vehicles or aircraft:

IEC International Standars

IEC 60095-1
 Lead-acid starter batteries - Part 1: General requirements and methods of test
IEC 60254-1
 Lead-acid traction batteries - Part 1: General requirements and methods of tests
IEC 60254-2
 Lead-acid traction batteries - Part 2: Dimensions of cells and terminals and marking of polarity on cells
IEC/TR 60783
 Wiring and connectors for electric road vehicles
IEC/TR 60785
 Rotating machines for electric road vehicles
IEC 60952-1
 Aircraft batteries - Part 1: General test requirements and performance levels
IEC 60952-2
 Aircraft batteries - Part 2: Design and construction requirements
IEC 60952-3
 Aircraft batteries - Part 3: Product specification and declaration of design and performance (DDP)
IEC 60982-1
 Secondary batteries for the propulsion of electric road vehicles - Part 1: Test parameters
IEC 60982-2
 Secondary batteries for the propulsion of electric road vehicles - Part 2: Dynamic discharge performance test and dynamic endurance test
IEC 60982-3
 Secondary batteries for the propulsion of electric road vehicles - Part 3: Performance and life testing (traffic compatible, urban use vehicles)
IECEE tests and certifies batteries for EVs... IECEE tests and certifies batteries for EVs...
...for fuel-powered vehicles... ...for fuel-powered vehicles...
...and for aircraft - charging process shown here ...and for aircraft - charging process shown here