Advanced Batteries lithium ion battery sensor breakthrough

Published on January 20th, 2017 | by Steve Hanley


Lithium Ion Battery Sensor Breakthrough May Reduce Costs And Weight

January 20th, 2017 by  

A lithium ion battery for an electric vehicle may consist of 1,000 or more individual cells. At the present time, each cell must have a voltage sensor and one or more current sensors. They provide feedback to the battery management system to help balance the charge in individual cells and prevent the cells from overheating. Lithium ion battery cells that get too hot may explode or burst into flames.

lithium ion battery sensor breakthrough

Ruhr-Universität Bochum engineering student Philip Dost and Professor Constantinos Sourkounis

Philip Dost is an engineering student at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany. His specialty is power system technology and power mechatronics. He is part of a team that has developed a new system that reduces the number of individual sensors needed to manage a battery pack. The new technology may make future lithium ion batteries for EVs lighter, smaller, and cheaper. Dost says, “Just like the cells, the sensors are a considerable weight and cost driver.”

The new technology reduces the number of sensors needed to one for current and one for voltage regardless of the number of cells the battery pack has. The sensors also perform cell balancing functions, something that normally requires a separate system.

Cell balancing is necessary to maintain the maximum energy yield of EV batteries, especially as they age Dost says. Each cell reacts differently during charging and discharging. By the end of the process, some are charged more than others. Once one cell is fully charged, charging of the other cells stops. Such an imbalance can cause degradation in performance in older batteries. Cell balancing can counteract such deterioration and keep older batteries working efficiently according to Dost.

The sensor system developed by the team is scalable and can be applied to any lithium ion battery whether it is designed to power an EV or a tablet, laptop, wireless electrical tool, uninterruptible power supply, or solar energy storage systems. The engineering team is beginning to attract interest from mainstream manufacturers and is continuing to develop their prototype to meet the requirements of the automotive industry.

We tend to think of a battery as a lump with some kind of magic stuff inside that stores electricity, but modern lithium ion batteries are quite complex things that require precision cooling and sophisticated battery management systems. Anything that promises smaller, lighter, and less expensive batteries is good news for the EV community and will hasten the day when the changeover from fossil fuel cars to zero emissions electric cars begins in earnest.

Source and photo credit: Design News


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I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • bioburner

    I’m reading this article and thinking TESLA. most other manufacturers use large format cells and a greatly reduced number of cells. Still thought provoking.

    • Steve Hanley

      There are so many improvements in battery technology in the offing. Some may pan out, others will sink without a trace. About the only thing we can me moderately sure of is that smaller, lighter, cheaper batteries with greater range are coming.

      I think by 2025, the technology will have changed tremendously. Figuring out which companies will be the winners will make some people very wealthy.

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