High-Potential Test for Quality Control of Separator Defects in Battery Cell Production
Lithium-ion batteries are a key technology for electromobility; thus, quality control in cell production is a central aspect for the success of electric vehicles. The detection of defects and poor insulation behavior of the separator is essential for high-quality batteries. Optical quality control methods in cell production are unable to detect small but still relevant defects in the separator layer, e.g., pinholes or particle contaminations. This gap can be closed by executing high-potential testing to analyze the insulation performance of the electrically insulating separator layer in a pouch cell. Here, we present an experimental study to identify different separator defects on dry cell stacks on the basis of electric voltage stress and mechanical pressure. In addition, finite element modeling (FEM) is used to generate physical insights into the partial discharge by examining the defect structures and the corresponding electric fields, including topographical electrode roughness, impurity particles, and voids in the separator. The test results show that hard discharges are associated with significant separator defects. Based on the study, a voltage of 350 to 450 V and a pressure of 0.3 to 0.6 N/mm2 are identified as optimum ranges for the test methodology, resulting in failure detection rates of up to 85%.