Battery Lab interns work on device to keep labs at CAR safe

Posted: November 2, 2023
battery lab sign

The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) houses many different labs, including the Battery Lab, which is managed by Research Specialist Prashanth Ramesh. Over the last two summers, Ramesh and his interns have been working on a safety device that can monitor key signals (like loss of power to the lab) and notify lab personnel.

The Battery Lab collects experimental battery data to use in research projects, including electrical and temperature data, as well as monitoring how batteries react under certain conditions. The Battery Lab runs 24/7 and needs a constant supply of power to keep experiments going. When power is lost and then returned to the lab, not all of the different systems turn on. This mismatch can lead to dangerous conditions and destroy multi-month experiments.

To solve this problem, current intern Vita Nagy, a student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, developed the software for this safety device, building on the hardware that intern Varun Meyyappan completed last summer. After Nagy familiarized herself with Systemlink Cloud, a cloud computing environment, she used it to build and host a web application capable of communicating with the hardware in the lab using an Internet of Things (IoT) framework.

The Battery Lab is the first of CAR’s labs to use this safety device. However, because of the safety and security benefits it provides, Ramesh says that he could see this being picked up in different labs. It’s a simple, inexpensive solution.

Going forward, the team still has some new features they would like to add. One of these is a temperature-sensing thermistor, which would allow them to track the temperature in the lab and its battery testing chambers and then alert personnel if temperatures exceed their safe limits.

Nagy says, “I’m very happy to have this opportunity to work at CAR on this project.  Although the changes it’s made to the lab may seem small, I believe that the device will prove to be an extremely useful safety feature.  Not only can it stop experimental data from being ruined by unrecorded power outages or temperature fluctuations, but it should also aid in preventing dangerous equipment malfunctions by warning employees if conditions in the lab become too extreme.  Additionally, it should be relatively inexpensive to recreate, and therefore easy to implement in other laboratories, helping to make lab safety equipment more accessible to everyone!”

Written by CAR Writing Intern, Cassie Forsha

Category: Research