Via press release, Sandia National Laboratories will use $4.2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to modify and enhance its existing Battery Abuse Testing Laboratory (BATLab), with the goal of developing low-cost batteries for electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

The tests help to determine how much abuse lithium-ion batteries can safely handle. Sandia tests everything from regular small cells up to full-sized modules and packs for hybrid vehicles.

The DOE-funded FreedomCAR program turned to Sandia to investigate the possibility of safely using lithium-ion batteries. But before lithium-ion batteries could be placed in vehicles, extensive safety tests needed to take place. With the recent stimulus funds, the BATLab will be able to greatly increase the number of tests it does.

The $4.2 million in funding is part of a $104.7 million economic stimulus package to further develop the nation’s efforts in clean energy and efficient technologies across seven DOE national laboratories.

The $104.7 million ARRA funding is concentrated on three priorities: advancing carbon fiber manufacturing and processing technologies to help reduce the weight of vehicles; developing integrated building systems to reduce U.S. carbon emissions and expanding facilities for fabricating and testing advanced battery prototypes for fuel-efficient vehicles.