Iowa Lakes Engineering Technology Program Collaborates with ISU

Iowa State battery testing

Iowa Lakes Battery Testing Project with ISU

Iowa Lakes Engineering Technology program collaborates with Iowa State University to provide hands-on learning experiences to engineering students. The experimental collaboration utilizes a battery testing machine purchased with a grant obtained by both colleges. The device will allow engineering students to collect data on the optimal charging cycles of battery cells.

“The partnership with Iowa State allows the technical skills of Iowa Lakes Engineering Technology students to complement the theoretical and analytical skills of the ISU engineering students. These complementary skill sets will allow us to create a model for the optimal charge cycling of lithium-ion cells through data collection and development of a predictive software tool,” explained Chad Tischer, Engineering Technology Instructor and Program Coordinator at Iowa Lakes.

The proposed collaborative experiment is to create a pilot training program about battery storage consisting of a training hub on battery testing and a short course on battery modeling. Additionally, the students will develop a software tool to accelerate predictions of battery lifetimes and create a rich knowledge base comparing the long-term reliability of various battery chemistries and suppliers.

Earlier this month, engineering students from both colleges gathered at the Estherville Campus of Iowa Lakes to set up a battery testbed with 128 simultaneously tested battery cells. This testbed will serve as a training hub for direct training experiences.

Once data is collected, a one-day Battery Modeling short course will be developed and offered for free to practitioners in Iowa utilities, including lectures on battery operating principles and hands-on lab training. The initial offering of the Battery Modeling course will be at the Electric Power Forum, held in Ames, Iowa, every year by the ISU Electric Power Research Center (EPRC).

Ultimately, the project will result in a software tool that predicts battery lifetime of up to 10 or more years using less than six weeks of early life data. In addition, the software tool developed will accelerate the evaluation of battery lifetime, allowing Iowa utility companies to compare the long-term reliability between battery chemistries and suppliers in only a few weeks, instead of needing months or years of expensive testing.

Participating engineering students from both colleges will gain practical experiences in battery testing and modeling, helping build the talent pipeline for careers in battery installation, a growing part of the renewable energy industry in Iowa.

This collaborative experience with Iowa State is another way Iowa Lakes is preparing students for the future.