Testing and certification for batteries enable safer use of next generation personal e-Mobility & personal e-Transportation.

There is an incredible transformation of personal electrified transportation technology around the globe, in the form of light electric vehicles (LEVs) and personal transport. Personal e-mobility (x-wheel products), electrically pedal assisted cycles, e-Bikes, e-Motorbikes, and & e-Scooters are an emerging use of battery technologies, with many benefits and increasing appeal. However, putting a person in close contact with an advanced energy system, continually increasing demands for energy density, and adequately facing the rigors of real-life usage all present safety challenges that must be proactively addressed to support safe and sustainable growth of these personal e-Mobility and cycle transportation solutions. Similarly, the exponential increase in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles such as drones to fulfill commercial or tactical objectives will continue to rely on battery technology as the key solution, and safe battery and electrical systems are needed. New and updated safety standards establish a baseline that enables common expectations, safe use of technologies, and easier navigation of international trade. Most of all, they enable a future where batteries help our society get from one place to another in a clean, efficient, and safe way.

UL supports retailers and manufacturers by offering testing and certification of the electrical systems for light EV products. Three UL Standards are the core of compliance for these innovative light EV products centered around personal e-Transportation:

Personal e-Mobility – UL 2272 Reaches Consensus in Both USA and Canada

UL Standard Technical Panel (STP) of UL 2272 approved the 1st edition of ANSI/CAN/UL 2272 and it was published on  November 21, 2016. It now extends the scope of UL 2272 to cover all types of personal e-Mobility devices (single rider; non-roadworthy; typically stand when operating; does not have pedals).  Two significant UL 2272 updates in the 2nd Edition include:

  • Supporting an updated list of products for personal e-Mobility intended for a single rider with a rechargeable electric drive train that balances and propels the rider, and which may be provided with a handle for grasping while riding. The device may or may not be self-balancing. As a result the name of the Standard is now “Electrical Systems for Personal e-Mobility Devices” (formerly “Electrical Systems for Self-Balancing Scooters”).
  • UL 2272 becomes accredited national standard for USA by ANSI and accredited national standard for Canada by SCC making it bi-national. This means it reached consensus between various stakeholders in both countries. Evaluating and certifying to the single standard ensures the national electrical safety system requirements of both countries are met.

UL offers electrical and fire-safety testing and certification under UL 2272, Electrical Systems for Personal e-Mobility (formerly titled Electrical Systems for Self-Balancing Scooters). This standard evaluates the safety of the electrical drive train system and battery and charger system combinations of hoverboards and an updated list of products now including other 1-wheel, 2-wheel, 3-wheel, x-wheel (which includes hoverboards) devices. UL 2272 does NOT evaluate for performance, reliability, or rider safety.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a letter on 2/18/16 to manufacturers, importers and retailers of hoverboards urging them to make certain the self-balancing scooters they “import, manufacture, distribute or sell in the United States comply with currently applicable voluntary safety standards, including all referenced standards and requirements contained in UL 2272”.

In addition to its existing compliance guidance, CPSC is placing increased attention and focus on the safety of a number of battery-powered devices. As part of its Fiscal Year 2017 Operating Plan, CPSC will undertake additional work on the “emerging and ongoing hazards associated with high energy density batteries, including but not limited to enforcement, voluntary and mandatory standards work, import surveillance and compliance, and industry, interagency and intergovernmental cooperation.” CPSC’s work will address hazards associated with devices powered by high energy density batteries (lithium-ion, lithium polymer, lithium-iron-phosphate), as well as “system safety features that ensure high energy density batteries, battery packs, safety circuits, end products and chargers all work together to achieve safe operation for the intended application.”

Pedelecs/e-Bikes, e-Motorbikes & e-Scooters – UL 2849 Updated to Include Roadworthy Cycles, NOT Just Electrically Pedal-Assisted (EPAC) Cycles

The updated requirements of UL 2849 now address the most recent critical safety issues to support safe use of all types of e-bikes, e-motorbikes and e-scooters (single rider, but may be able to accommodate passenger; typically considered over-the-road; typically sit to operate; may have pedals) to minimize risks from battery fires or explosions and shock hazards.

Safety standards, including UL 2849, are essential to making sure the energy is governed and used appropriately through the thousands of cycles of e-bike and e-scooter charges and discharges. Designing, sourcing, testing and validating safety of the battery packs and battery management systems are the foundation for e-bike, e-motorbike and e-scooter safety. Increasing complexity of some of the on-board systems also requires special consideration for minimizing the risk of electric shock during charging over the life of the products, reflecting the real-world abuses and demands that occur to these products. This will necessitate the use of special strategies or protective circuitry to address those potential electrocution hazards.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Drones – New UL 3030

UL 3030 addresses requirements for the electrical system of the UAV for commercial applications (agricultural, scientific, research, government, local police, search & rescue, video for film industry or news broadcasts, flight related to business for roof inspections). UAVs covered by UL 3030 are intended to be operated by trained pilots, where the UAV is less than 55 lbs. (25 kg) with its operating voltage of not greater than 100 V dc and are intended for outdoor operation. While aspects such as airworthiness, efficacy of controls, and similar topics will be out of scope; these must be addressed by regulations, user programs and other standards.

UAVs, more commonly known as drones, are changing the way we interact with the world. The use of controlled or autonomous UAVs to perform tasks that are otherwise more dangerous, time consuming or inefficient will be a part of our collective future. Drones may be powered by different sources, depending on the required uses. However, battery technology again is a key element in the success of drones. Batteries offer benefits in terms of weight of the energy and drive systems, as well as eliminating byproduct emissions and noise. As with any battery applications, there are critical needs for assessing and validating the battery safety, proving the battery management system is capable of maintaining the battery in a safe mode, and evaluating the coordination of the charger, battery system and load as safe.

Portable Power Packs – UL 2743 1st Edition

As demand for portable power continues to increase, so does the safety concern for the batteries used within portable power packs. It is critical to test these temporary power sources equipped with lead acid or lithium ion batteries for safety.

Booster packs and portable power packs have been available for some time. However, as batteries became more prevalent in all types of products, the public became more aware of new incidents and hazards associated with improper use of these battery operated products.

UL 2742 1st Edition was published on October 14, 2016 and covers devices that consist of one or more batteries housed within an enclosure and intended to be used as a portable power source for use where normal grid power is not available. It can have a booster function (ex: jump-start a car) and can also be used for emergency situations.

The devices are charged from an external supply source, but independently supply power to outputs on the device when used. The devices are not intended to act as an extension cord and are not intended to provide output power while plugged into the supply. Outputs may consist of one or more of the following: receptacles, USB connections from a limited power source, DC output jacks, and vehicle sockets. Devices may also provide an automotive booster function intended to provide starting power to a depleted vehicle battery in jump-start-type applications.

This standard is not intended for phone charging as that would be covered under UL 2056.