Visiting scholar brings battery testing experience to CAR

Posted: December 8, 2022
female in green jacket and glasses standing in front of a waterfall

Pia Hoenicke, a visiting scholar from Ulm University in Germany, spent the fall conducting research at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and getting a feel for what it’s like to be a Buckeye.

“I was looking to go somewhere that does things similar to what I do here in Germany which is battery tests at low pressure and actually there are not many facilities that do this work. I was very excited when I found that The Ohio State University does the same kind of work,” Hoenicke said.

Hoenicke is pursuing her PhD in electrical engineering. While at CAR she worked on a NASA ULI project where she collaborated with Research Assistant Professor Matilde D’Arpino and Research Associate Faissal El Idrissi on assessing the performance of lithium-ion batteries in pouch format when exposed to low pressure environments. When at high altitude (e.g. 10,000 ft) the air expands and the atmospheric pressure will reduce. Traditional lithium-ion batteries are designed for sea level pressure operation. Failures or malfunctions can happen at higher altitude. To test the performance of lithium-ion batteries at high altitude, the team developed an experimental set up to emulate high altitude conditions.

“The aviation industry has the opportunity to reduce fuel emissions and improve vehicle efficiency using lithium-ion batteries in the propulsion system,” said D’Arpino. “Pia has joined a program in which we have been trying to understand the effects of low pressure conditions (due to high altitude) on lithium ion batteries. It has been great collaborating with Pia and learning how she is approaching similar challenges with her PhD work.”

This was not Hoenicke’s first time in the United States. She previously interned for a public utilities company in Minnesota, but said she really enjoyed Columbus.

“It’s a nice city and it’s not too expensive either, so that was also really good,” said Hoenicke. “I explored Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Hocking Hills as well as Schiller Park and the Ohio Statehouse and I enjoyed many meals at the Indian restaurant, Hyderabad House. I also had fun going to different sporting events!”

Hoenicke says that one of the things she enjoyed most during her time at Ohio State was everyone’s love for Buckeye football! “In Germany universities really aren’t into sports, so it’s really fun to see the whole city dressed in scarlet. I attended a game and had a lot of fun!”

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