I previously had a discussion with Lance Turner, lead engineer in the Volt battery lab who also worked on the EV-1 program.
I asked him if there are any special considerations about the Volt and its high power battery getting exposed to water, such as in a flood, or accident where the car gets submerged.
Lance advised me that the battery pack is, although not hermetically sealed, sealed to be maximally waterproof. Special attention is given to the connection between the high voltage lines coming out of the front of the pack to the inverter, and these are sealed especially well. The pack also has the means of detecting water seeping into the pack allowing it to shut down.
Lance described one way the EV-1 was water tested. GM actually put a working EV-1 inside a large vat of sea-water, because it contains electrolyte and in theory one could drive into it.
Once the car was in, it was turned on and the seawater was gradually added. There was an extensive system of monitors including current detectors placed over test dummies in the seats, and noxious gas detectors.
As soon as the water level reached the battery, it shut down. There were some crackles and pops sounds, but in the end no significant current flowed into the dummies.
Will this be applied to the Volt? We’ll have to wait and see.
Below is a new video GM released along the same theme showing the Volt IVer prototypes getting soaked in a test chamber. This of course isn’t to test the battery’s safety underwater but to check the final Volt design for leaks so that they can be fixed.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 at 6:04 am and is filed under Battery, Prototypes, Safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.