A render if what the DP World London Gateway project will look like when completely constructed, based on Fluence’s sixth-generation Gridstack system design. Image: InterGen.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the UK has given the green light to the country’s biggest ever battery storage project.

InterGen has gained planning permission for a 320MW / 640MWh lithium-ion battery site at DP World London Gateway, a new port and logistics centre on the Thames Estuary in Essex, south-east England. The £200 million (US$267 million) project will also have the potential for further expanding, as far as 1.3GWh.

Fluence is providing the technology for the site, having worked in partnership with InterGen for the past two years following a competitive tender process. The companies initially signed an exclusivity agreement for another project at Spalding, which was since been extended to the Gateway project.

According to the company, this puts it at 10 times the size of the largest battery currently operating in the UK. Indeed it will dwarf the UK’s biggest active project so far, the 50MW / 75MWh Thurcroft battery storage site in South Yorkshire, which was recently acquired by stock exchange listed specialist fund Gresham House Energy Storage.

In terms of international context, the world’s largest battery project already under development is Vistra Energy’s Moss Landing project in California, which is permitted for an eventual 400MW / 1,600MWh, to be built in phases. The world’s largest project in operation today is the Gateway project developed by LS Power, also in California. That project is currently at 230MW output and 230MWh capacity, as of August, with a futher expansion to 250MW / 250MWh already underway. Australian utility AGL recently said it is planning a 250MW battery storage project with up to 1,000MWh of capacity, while The Red Sea Development Company, developing a huge luxury resort in Saudi Arabia said last week that it plans to use 1,000MWh of battery storage to integrate local renewable energy resources.

With the share of renewables continuing to grow, the need to balance the grid through the use of technologies such as storage is continuing to grow alongside it. As such, InterGen’s battery – which is set to be used to support and stabilise existing electricity supplies – will represent a major piece of the system architecture.

Image: InterGen.

InterGen CEO Jim Lightfoot said the company was “delighted” to be granted consent for the Gateway project, as its mission was to deliver the “flexible electricity solutions” needed for a low carbon world.

“We are excited to be entering a new phase in our growth as an organisation, and will continue to explore opportunities to develop projects which can support the energy transition.”

Till recently, large scale energy storage projects were not possible in the UK, as planning legislation limited storage project to 50MW in England and 350MW in Wales. These were relaxed in July, to help increase flexibility.

InterGen’s storage project will become one of the largest in the world, topping the biggest single-site battery project currently, a 250MW site switched on in August in California by its developer, infrastructure company LS Power.

Construction of the DP Word London Gateway is expected to get under way in 2022, and the battery to become operational in 2024.

Additionally, InterGen is looking to develop another large scale battery project at its site in Spalding, Lincolnshire. This would be a 175MW / 350MWh site, and planning permission is already in place.

The Edinburgh-headquartered independent energy generator currently supplies around 5% of the UK’s generating capacity, with natural gas sites in Coryton in Essex (800MW), Spalding in Lincolnshire (1,250MW) and Rocksavage in Cheshire (810MW).

A version of this story for local audiences was first published on Solar Power Portal

RV-Battery

RV-Battery

Low-Temperature LiFePO4 Battery: Why It’s Best For RV

Like humans, batteries could function their best at room temperature. Low-temperature batteries like Lithium Iron Phosphate, like the LifePO4 Battery manufactured by Himax, could be useful for RVs. These good batteries can work well in a temperature range of about 40 to 50That’s why these batteries are ideal for RV application because these are specially-made, low-temperature batteries that are ideal for longer use in, particularly cold environments.

Perhaps you want to know deeper about what LiFePO4 Battery has to offer. In this article, you will understand how the low-temperature LifePO4 batteries work, and why it is ideal for any RVs. You will also know its features to help you understand this product.

Benefits of Using Low-Temperature LiFePO4 Batteries 

When it comes to powering your RV, perhaps you want to consider Grepow’s Low-temperature LiFePO4 Batteries. Here are the benefits when you opt to use these kinds of batteries.

  • LiFePO4 batteries are safer and even more practical for low-temperature
  • It can be charged at temperature down to 0℃
  • It features proprietary technology which draws excellent power from the charger itself
  • The process of charging and heating is seamless for users
  • Internal heating and monitoring system are easy to process
  • Environmentally friendly and proven safe for use in any system
  • Customizable (Voltage, Capacity, Size, BMS)
  • Provides your RV a high energy density
  • The cycle life could reach thousands of cycles

LiFePO4 battery Features 

Understanding your battery’s features is essential to know if it’s compatible with your RV. Check out the Himax’s Low-Temperature LiFePO4 features to know how it delivers more power and longer life.

Grepow LifePO4 battery 0.2C discharge at -20 to -40 degree temperature
Himax LifePO4 battery 0.2C discharge at -20 to -40 degree temperature
  • Very good temperature resistance; the range of operating temperature is from -40℃to 50℃.
  • The discharge current at 0.2C is over 85% of initial capacity at -20℃, 85% at -30℃, around 55% at -40℃.
  • Has a higher capacity than other similar-sized lead-acid batteries.
  • A good drop-in replacement for lead-acid batteries
  • It comes with a longer life cycle compared to other lithium-ion batteries.
  • Can reach up to 2000 times life cycle

LiFePO4 battery Applications

One good thing about the Himax’s LiFePO4 battery is that it can be used or applied to various equipment. It’s widely used in fields that require low-temperature applications like:

  • Medical Equipment
  • Drones/UAVs
  • Remote Controls for Passion and Hobbies
  • Industrial Applications
  • Powersports
  • Energy Storage (Home Solar, Outdoor, Marine)

Conclusion

Having a reliable and best battery for RV applications like Himax’s LiFePO4 Batteries can give you the best RV experience. Now that you know its benefits and features, perhaps you will consider the LiFePO4 battery from Grepow because it’s not only reliable but it’s also very helpful to maintain your RVs longevity.

Hopefully, you could understand the features and how low-temperature batteries work for your RV. Don’t hesitate to get something like Himax low-temperature batteries; always use your units and equipment with confidence because you know that batteries could withstand low-temperature applications.

NI-MH-Battery

NI-MH-Battery-Pack

A nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery is similar to a nickel cadmium (NiCd) battery, but it has higher capacity, less memory effect, and lower environmental pollution (or more simply, it doesn’t have the toxic cadmium) than the NiCd battery. Its recycling efficiency is better than that of lithium-ion batteries, and it is known as the most environmentally friendly battery.

The discharge performance of NiMH batteries can also meet the needs of most electronic products, and it is particularly suitable for products that require stable voltage over long discharge times.

High C-rate

Typically, high C-rate Ni-MH batteries can be charged at 1C and be fully charged in just over an hour. When discharged with a current of 5C, the median voltage of the battery can reach more than 1.24V and still discharge over 90% of its capacity.

Ni-MH batteries are efficient in their fast charging and high current-discharge performance, which makes them especially suitable for the high current discharge of electrical appliances, such as power tools, large toys (car toys, remote control aircraft) and so on.

Charging efficiency

The charging efficiency is the ratio of the capacity of a battery discharged under certain discharge conditions up to a certain cut-off voltage to the capacity of the battery input, which can be calculated according to the following formula:

Ni-MH battery's charging efficiency formula | Grepow
the battery’s charging efficiency formula

Because the input energy is partially consumed in the side reaction to produce oxygen, the charging efficiency is affected by the charging rate and the environmental temperature. The charging current must be within a certain range when charging: if the current is too small or too large, the charging efficiency will be low.

High charge rate

A Ni-MH cell has many similar characteristics to its NiCd counterpart, and it also follows a similar discharge curve to that of the NiCd. However, the Ni-MH battery is intolerant of overcharging, which can result in reduced capacity.

In order to ensure the best battery life, 1C charging is the recommended charging rate. After fast charging, it is recommended to use 0.03-0.05C trickle charging to compensate for self-discharge and maintain battery capacity.

High discharge rate

Himax’s Ni-MH batteries can offer up to 2 times the C-rate of similarly sized, standard NiCd batteries. Due to their higher discharge rate and energy density characteristics, users can use Himax’s Ni-MH batteries in more powerful devices and applications.

The following picture is the discharge curve of :

NiMH UP43SC2000 Performance Measurement Data Plots | Grepow
UP43SC2000-15C Performance Measurement Data Plots

Here are some specifications of Himax Ni-MH battery:

specifications of Grepow NiMH battery

There are three different series for Himax’s Ni-MH batteries that correspond to thor different discharge rates:

LP series, which stands for low power, means that the medium discharge rate is within a 5C rating. HP series stands for high power, and it has a discharge rating of 10C. Finally, the UP series, standing for ultra high power, has a discharge rate of 15C or more.

The above information comes from Himax, the manufacturer of Ni-MH, LiPO, and LiFe batteries. For more information, please further explore our blog or contact us at sales@himaxelectronics.com.

Recycle-Lithium-Batteries

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are inarguably the most popular type of rechargeable battery for consumer electronics. They can be used for a variety of products from mobile phones to cars, and their qualities are superior compared to other rechargeable batteries.

At NightSearcher we use high-quality lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for all but a few of our rechargeable flashlights, searchlights, head torches, and floodlights, as they allow us to provide the high-performance, durable products our customers are used to.

Below we’ve listed the biggest advantages of lithium-ion batteries from the customers’ point of view and delved into the science behind each characteristic.

 

Eco-friendly:

Lithium-ion batteries contain relatively low levels of toxic heavy metals found in other types of batteries, such as lead-acid and nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries. Cadmium, lead, and mercury have been battery stalwarts for years, but prolonged exposure to, and inadequate disposal of these metals is harmful to humans, animals, and plants. Although Li-ion batteries are safer than many other types of batteries they still require proper recycling, so never put your used batteries in with your regular rubbish.

Lightweight and compact:

Electrodes commonly used in lithium-ion batteries, lithium and carbon, are lightweight on their own, making for much smaller and lighter batteries than their older counterparts such as lead-acid batteries. For comparison’s sake, a typical 51Ah (= ampere-hour) lithium-ion battery weighs about the same as a 24Ah lead-acid battery (about 6-7kg), but provides over twice the capacity.
This particular characteristic of lithium-ion batteries is especially convenient in head torches, as we can increase the light output and runtime significantly without adding bulk and weight to the battery pack (and on your head!).

 

High energy density = A bigger punch:

Lithium is a highly reactive element with the ability to release and store large amounts of energy, allowing li-ion batteries to pack a high energy capacity in a small size. This translates to lithium-ion batteries lasting much longer between charges than other rechargeable batteries, while still maintaining their high level of performance.

A typical lithium-ion cell (= battery) has an average cell voltage of 3.6V, whereas a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) cell averages at 1.2V, meaning three Ni-MH batteries are required to match the output of a single lithium-ion battery.

 

Low maintenance:

Older types of rechargeable batteries, such as nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal hydride batteries had a so-called “memory effect”, or “lazy battery effect”: If they were repeatedly partially discharged before being recharged, ultimately the battery would only deliver the amount of energy that was used during the partial discharges before its voltage would drop. To avoid this, NiCd and NiMH batteries would need to be regularly maintained by completely discharging and recharging them.

Lithium-ion batteries don’t suffer from the memory effect, which means they always give up their last bit of power, and you can recharge them whether you’ve used 100% or 25% of their capacity with no pesky maintenance needed!

 

More charge cycles:

Quality lithium-ion batteries last about a 1000 full charge cycles. A full charge cycle is when the battery is discharged to flat and then recharged to full, so using your battery until it’s at 75% capacity and then plugging it into recharge doesn’t constitute a full charge cycle. When your battery has recharged back to full, you can still use the 75% of the capacity that you were left with before you recharged your battery; only then has your battery gone through a full charge cycle.

 

Low self-discharge rate

Lithium-ion batteries also have a relatively low self-discharge rate. Self-discharge is a natural, irreversible phenomenon for batteries, where chemical reactions inside the batteries reduce their capacity even when the battery is not being used. The self-discharge rate of lithium-ion batteries peaks at about 5% within the first 24 hours after charging the battery, and then tapers off to 1-2% per month. In comparison, nickel-based rechargeable batteries lose about 10-15% of their capacity after charge and another 10-15% per month.

Cylindrical,-Prismatic-and-Pouch-Cell-Batteries

Cylindrical,-Prismatic-and-Pouch-Cell-Batteries

There are three main packaging forms of lithium batteries: they are cylindrical, prismatic and pouch cell packages. Each packaging has its own advantages and disadvantages, which we will review in today’s article.

Cylindrical Lithium Battery

There are many types of cylindrical cells, such as 14650, 17490, 18650, 21700, 26500 and so on. Many car models use this type of battery; Tesla, for instance, uses a 21700 cylindrical battery for its Model 3.

Advantage

The technology behind cylindrical lithium batteries have been around for quite some time, so the yield and consistency of the pack is high. The cost of these packs are also low, which allows them to be suitable for mass production. The cylindrical battery is particularly convenient for its variety of combinations and suitability for electric-vehicle designs.

Disadvantage

On the other hand, these batteries are usually packaged in steel or aluminum shells, making them heavy with a low specific energy.

Application

These batteries can be applied to power tools, toy models, digital electronic products, laptops, lamps, and other portable mobile energy systems.

Prismatic Lithium Battery

The packaging shell of a prismatic lithium battery is mostly made of aluminum alloy and stainless steel. The inner part of the battery adopts a winding or laminating process. The structure is relatively simple, and the production process is not complicated.

Advantage

Compared with cylindrical lithium batteries, these batteries are safer. Because they are not like cylindrical batteries that use higher strength stainless steel as the shell and accessories with explosion-proof safety valves, the overall weight is lighter, and the energy density is relatively higher.

Disadvantage

There is a low automation level due to the difficulty in having so many different types of lithium batteries. The monomers are also quite different, and there may be cases where groups of prismatic lithium battery packs are far below the life of a single lithium battery.

Application

These packs can be applied to electric vehicles, communication-based stations, energy storage, medical fields, etc.

Pouch Cell Lithium Battery

There is little differentiation between the positive electrode, negative electrode material and separator that are used in pouch cell lithium batteries, cylindrical and prismatic lithium batteries. The biggest difference between them is the packaging material, aluminum-plastic film.

The packaging materials are usually divided into three layers: the outer barrier (usually an outer protective layer composed of nylon BOPA or PET), the middle barrier (a middle layer consisting of aluminum foil) and the inner layer (a multifunctional layer).

Advantage

The aluminum-plastic film packaging has a certain degree of flexibility. When a safety problem occurs, the pouch cell battery will bulge up and crack but will not explode or cause a fire because the gas cannot be released.

Disadvantage

However, most pouch cells need to be customized. Currently, the manufacturers that can customize pouch cell batteries are Gateway Power, Himax and so on.

Application

The applications are in smartphones, drones, wearable devices, automotive industry, military fields, etc.

In general, the cylindrical, prismatic and pouch cell batteries have their own advantages and disadvantages. Each battery has its own leading field and has been well applied.

BMS-AND-PCM

Before we go straight into comparing these protection boards, let me help define these first.

BMS-AND-PCM

Define the PCM, PCB and BMS

Generally speaking, battery protection boards can be divided into two types. We usually refer to them as the PCM (Protection circuit module) or otherwise known as the PCB (Protection circuit board), and the BMS (Battery management system).

A battery management system (BMS) or Protection Circuit Module (PCM) is one of the most important parts of a lithium battery. Without either one of these two components, a lithium battery could be very dangerous.

The features of PCM

The PCM is mainly composed of hardware electronic components, and it protects the charging and discharging of the lithium battery pack. When the pack is fully charged, the PCM can ensure that the voltage difference between the single cells is less than the set value in order to achieve balanced voltages between the different cells. At the same time, the PCM will detect the over-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, short-circuit, and over-temperature status of every single cell in the battery pack to ultimately protect and extend the battery’s life.

BMS modules

The BMS, also called the battery manager, maintains the same features as a PCM and PCB but also has the ability to offer additional protection and features. It provides real-time monitoring of the battery and transmits data through software. The status information is given to the electrical equipment. The BMS itself includes a management system, a control module, a display module, a wireless communication module, and a collection module for collecting battery information of the battery pack, and others.

lectric shavers and power tool batteries are protected with PCM and PCB. Drones batteries, on the other hand, utilize a BMS. The drone operator will have the ability to check the battery level in real-time and calculate the remaining run time of the battery. This requires the battery to support these data transmissions, which can only be offered by a BMS.

Which solution is better for your project?

The PCM and PCB can only offer the basic levels of protection and are cheaper whereas the BMS includes all the functionalities of a PCM and PCB AND more (although the price tag increases as well). So, if you’re trying to decide between these boards, it’ll really depend on exactly what market your product will be geared towards. If you still can’t make a decision, feel free to reach out to us, and we’ll help you.

Floor-Machines-with-Lithium-Battery

Floor-Machines-with-Lithium-Battery

Lithium batteries are making their way into the Floor Cleaning market and for good reason. If you look at all of the benefits, they are hands-down the best solution to power your floor cleaning machines. Learn why below:

LIFE

Probably the most well-known and obvious benefit is significantly longer life. Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries will provide 5 – 10 times more cycles than lead-acid batteries. This means, you aren’t replacing your batteries every 2-4 years. And, replacing lead-acid batteries is not a fun task; first there is downtime to do the battery replacement, then there is the heavy lifting to remove old batteries and install new batteries. Finally, there is the disposal of the spent batteries.

PRODUCTIVITY

Another major benefit is the runtime or range. There are a few reasons LiFePO4 batteries can, and do, provide increased runtime over lead-acid batteries.

1. The main reason is that a lithium battery provides the full rated capacity, regardless of the rate of discharge. Lead-acid batteries are typically rated at the 5-hour or 20-hour rate, which are based on constant current, laboratory-tested, and low rates of discharge.

For example, a 200Ah (based on the 20-hr rate) lead-acid battery will provide 200Ah if it is run at a constant current of 10A for 20 hours. However, that same battery may provide only 135Ah if it is run at a constant current of 75A for 1.8 hours.

With lead-acid batteries, as the rate of discharge increases, not only does the runtime decrease but the overall size of the fuel tank decreases.

In a real application, the current is never constant, in fact, it varies continuously and often significantly. It is unpredictable. So with a lead-acid battery, you are never really getting the published battery capacity, in a floor machine.

With a lithium iron phosphate battery, the fuel tank remains the same size regardless of the state of discharge. A 200Ah battery will provide 200Ah whether it is discharged at 10A or 100A. The battery will always deliver its published capacity.

2. Another reason LiFePO4 batteries provide more runtime than lead-acid batteries, is the capacity degradation over the life of the battery is slow and minimal.

Traditional wet lead-acid batteries typically provide around 80% capacity when brand new. They work up to their full capacity and remain there for a couple hundred cycles and then decline over the next couple hundred cycles. AGM or Gel lead-acid batteries will provide their full capacity when brand new and steadily decline right away. Some Gel batteries will maintain their full capacity for a few hundred cycles but then rapidly decline.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries provide full rated capacity immediately and continue to do so for about 1000 cycles, with a slow decline to 80-90% capacity between 1000 to 2000 cycles.

3. Lithium batteries charge quickly and can be opportunely charged without damaging the battery. This can significantly extend the range of your LiFePO4 battery per shift.

Increased runtime, means increased productivity!

POWER

Lead-acid batteries provide full power for a relatively short period of time because the voltage declines steeply during usage. Lithium iron phosphate batteries provide full power throughout usage. This means, your floor cleaning equipment has full power throughout its shift.

CONVENIENCE

How convenient are lithium batteries? Very. No maintenance, no adding water, no cleaning acid residue from cables, connections, battery tops and equipment. No replacements, or at least not for many years, and easy installation due to being incredibly light compared to lead-acid batteries.

ROBUST

Lithium iron phosphate batteries are difficult to damage. They can’t be over-charged because the Battery Management System protects against that. Unlike lead-acid batteries, if they are under-charged or left in a partial state of charge, they will not be damaged.

SAFETY

Lithium iron phosphate batteries are safe. Not all lithium chemistries are the same. LiFePO4 are an inherently safe chemistry. They produce a fraction of the heat generated by other lithium chemistries, due to their structural stability. Not to mention, they eliminate exposure to harmful gases that are continuously vented from lead-acid batteries.

COST

Lithium iron phosphate batteries offer great savings compared to lead-acid, between 20-50%, when you consider the total cost of ownership. Although the upfront cost of lithium is higher, the areas of saving are numerous. Reduced maintenance, battery replacement, labor and charging costs all add up to substantial savings. The lifetime cost is less than lead-acid and we’ve done the math to prove it!

Do you have questions about Himax lithium batteries for floor machines? Contact us and one of our tech experts will be in touch.

Structure-Of-Steel

The shell materials used in lithium batteries on the market can be roughly divided into three types: steel shell, aluminum shell and pouch cell (i.e. aluminum plastic film, soft pack). We will explore the characteristics, applications and differences between them in this article.

SteelShell Battery

The steel material for this battery is physically stable with its stress resistance higher than aluminum shell material. It is mostly used as the shell material of cylindrical lithium batteries.

Structure-Of-Steel

In order to prevent oxidation of the steel battery’s positive electrode active material,  manufacturers usually use nickel plating to protect the iron matrix of the steel shell and place a safety device inside the battery cell.

At present, most laptops use steel-shell batteries, but it is also used in toy models and power tools.

AluminumShell Battery

The aluminum shell is a battery shell made of aluminum alloy material. It is mainly used in square lithium batteries. They are environmentally friendly and lighter than steel while having strong plasticity and stable chemical properties.

Generally, the material of the aluminum shell is aluminum-manganese alloy, and its main alloy components are Mn, Cu, Mg, Si, and Fe. These five alloys play different roles in the aluminum shell battery. For example, Cu and Mg improve strength and hardness, Mn improves corrosion resistance, Si can enhance the heat treatment effect of magnesium-containing aluminum alloys, and Fe can improve high temperature strength.

Structure-Of-Aluminum-Shell-Battery

Aluminum shell batteries are the main shell material of liquid lithium batteries, which is used in almost all areas involved.

PouchCell Battery

The pouch-cell battery (soft pack battery) is a liquid lithium-ion battery covered with a polymer shell. The biggest difference from other batteries is its packaging material, aluminum plastic film, which is also the most important and technically difficult material in pouch cells.

The packaging materials are usually divided into three layers: the outer barrier layer (it is usually an outer protective layer composed of nylon BOPA or PET), barrier layer (middle layer aluminum foil) and inner layer (multifunctional high barrier layer). The materials such as positive electrode, negative electrode, electrolyte, separator and so on are similar to other types of batteries.

Structure-Of-Pouch-Cell-Battery

The hidden danger of lithium batteries is the instability of the material or other unexpected comprehensive factors, which may cause the heat to run out of control and result in gas accumulation in the battery. This is dangerous because steel-shell and aluminum-shell batteries have a fixed space. When the gas inside these batteries expands beyond the limits of this space, the battery will explode. Pouch cells will also bulge up and crack, so they have a higher safety index.

Compared with steel and aluminum batteries (i.e. hard-shell batteries), pouch-cell batteries can have a flexible design, low internal resistance, more cycle time, and high energy density. They are lightweight, and they do not explode easily.

Pouch-cell batteries are 40% lighter than steel-shell lithium batteries of the same capacity and 20% lighter than aluminum-shell batteries. The capacity can be 10-15% higher than steel-shell batteries of the same size and 5-10% higher than aluminum-shell batteries of the same size.

In light of the advantages of pouch-cell batteries, industry experts predict that pouch-cell batteries will have a higher chance of penetrating the new energy vehicle market with more development.  In the future, pouch-cell batteries are expected to account for more than 50% of all types of batteries.

In addition to being used as power batteries and energy storage batteries, pouch-cell batteries are also used as battery components for 3C electronic products, such as mobile phones, drones, wearable devices, RCs, etc.

LiPO-US-NI-MH

LiPO-US-NI-MH

The biggest difference between NiMH and LiPo batteries is the chemical properties that enable the charging of the batteries. NiMH (Nickel-metal hybrid) uses nickel-based technology and LiPo (Lithium Polymer) batteries use a lithium-ion technology.

What the battery types have in common is that they both store a certain amount of energy depending on their capacity. Batteries can be manufactured with different voltages and capacities by installing battery cells in series or parallel inside the battery pack. One should be careful not to drop the batteries or damage the cases of the battery cells because it can cause a short circuit. Both battery types must be disposed of properly as hazardous waste.

The Batteries Differ in Their Properties and Uses.

NiMH batteries are easier to use. They must be fully discharged before charging and must be charged full before storing (Unless Manufacturer tells otherwise. Exampl. Traxxas). NiMH battery chargers are also very simple.

LiPo batteries don’t have to be fully discharged and they must be stored with a 50-70 % charge level. The charging must be done with a charger with balance charging. It is good to charge and store LiPo batteries in a LiPo safe bag.

Properties and remarks on NiMH batteries:

NI-MH-Battery

 

  • Easy and worry-free charging and storing “Safe choice for beginners”
  • Cheaper to manufacture
  • A common battery type in home appliances and devices
  • Rated voltage of cells 1.2V
  • Must be fully discharged before charging
  • Storing fully charged (Unless Manufacturer tells otherwise. Exampl. Traxxas)
  • Batteries are built with standard sized cells with metal cases
  • “Memory effect”: Batteries must always be fully discharged in order to keep full capacity available

Properties and remarks on LiPo batteries:

LiPO-Battery

  • Easy to use with the right devices
  • Manufacturing process is more complicated
  • Becoming a common battery type in home appliances and devices
  • Rated voltage of cells 3.0 V when discharging
  • A charger with balance charging must always be used for charging
  • Storing with 50-70 % charge level (Voltage per cell 3.85V-3.9V)
  • A LiPo safe bag must be used when charging and storing
  • Lighter than NiMH
  • Can be built in different sizes
  • “Memory effect”: almost non-existent, batteries don’t have to be fully discharged before recharging

The advantages of lithium batteries compared to NiMH batteries are undeniable.

The weight/power ratio in LiPo batteries is significantly better. LiPo batteries are noticeably lighter and they can store the same amount or more energy relative to their capacity than NiMH batteries. The power output of LiPo batteries is greater in quality and quantity. The power output of LiPo batteries is steady throughout the discharge, whereas the power output of NiMH batteries starts to decrease soon after charging because of higher discharge rate of the battery type.

Therefore with a LiPo battery with the same capacity as a NiMH battery a longer drive time and better performance can be achieved.

Battery Pack

With the increasing applications of lithium-ion batteries in drones, electric vehicles (EV), and solar energy storage, battery manufacturers are using modern technology and chemical composition to push the limits of battery testing and manufacturing capabilities.

Nowadays, every battery, regardless of its size, performance, and life, is determined in the manufacturing process, and the testing equipment is designed around specific batteries. However, since the lithium-ion battery market covers all shapes and capacities, it is difficult to create a single, integrated testing machine that can handle different capacities, currents, and physical shapes with required accuracy and precision.

As the demand for lithium-ion batteries becomes more diversified, we urgently need high-performing and flexible testing solutions to maximize the pros and cons and achieve cost-effectiveness.

The complexity of a lithium-ion battery

Today, lithium-ion batteries come in a variety of sizes, voltages, and applications that were originally not available when the technology was first put on the market. Lithium-ion batteries were originally designed for relatively small devices, such as notebook computers, cell phones, and other portable electronic devices.

Now, they’re a lot bigger in size for such devices as electric cars and solar battery storage. This means that a larger series, the parallel battery pack has a higher voltage, larger capacity, and larger physical volume. Some electric vehicles can have up to 100 pieces of cells in series and more than 50 in parallel.

A typical rechargeable lithium battery pack in an ordinary notebook computer consists of multiple batteries in series. However, due to the larger size of the battery pack, the testing becomes more complicated, which may affect the overall performance.

In order to achieve the best performance of the entire battery pack, each battery must be almost the same as its adjacent cells. Batteries will affect each other: if one of the batteries in a series has a low capacity, the other batteries in the battery pack will be below the optimal state. Their capacity will be degraded by the battery monitoring and rebalancing system to match the battery with the lowest performance.

The charge-discharge cycle further illustrates how a single battery can degrade the performance of the entire battery pack. The battery with the lowest capacity in the battery pack will reduce its charging state at the fastest speed, resulting in an unsafe voltage level and causing the entire battery pack to be unable to discharge again.

Battery Pack

When a battery pack is charged, the battery with the lowest capacity will be fully charged first, and the remaining batteries will not be charged further. In electric vehicles, this will result in a reduction in the effective overall available capacity, thereby reducing the vehicle’s range. In addition, the degradation of a low-capacity battery is accelerated because it reaches an excessively high voltage at the end of its charge and discharge before the safety measures take effect.

No matter the device, the more batteries in a battery pack that is stacked in series and in parallel, the more serious the problem.

The obvious solution is to ensure that each battery is manufactured exactly the same and to keep the same batteries in the same battery pack. However, due to the inherent manufacturing process of battery impedance and capacity, testing has become critical–not only to exclude defective parts but also to distinguish which batteries are the same and which battery packs to put in.

In addition, the charging and discharging curve of the battery in the manufacturing process has a great impact on its characteristics and is constantly changing.

Modern lithium-ion batteries bring new testing challenges

Battery testing is not a new thing, but, since its advent, lithium-ion batteries have brought new pressure to the accuracy of testing equipment, production capacity, and circuit board density.

Lithium-ion batteries are unique because of their extremely dense energy storage capacity, which may cause fires and explosions if they are improperly charged and discharged. In the manufacturing and testing process, this kind of energy storage technology requires very high accuracy, which is further aggravated by many new applications. The wide range of lithium-ion batteries that are available affects the testing equipment as they need to ensure that the correct charge and discharge curve is followed accurately in order to achieve the maximum storage capacity and reliability and quality.

Since there is no one size suitable for all batteries, choosing suitable test equipment and different manufacturers for different lithium-ion batteries will increase the test cost.

In addition, continuous industrial innovations mean that the constantly changing charge-discharge curve is further optimized, making the battery tester an important development tool for new battery technology. Regardless of the chemical and mechanical properties of lithium-ion batteries, there are countless charging and discharging methods in their manufacturing process, which pushes battery manufacturers to expect more unique test functions out of battery testers.

Accuracy is obviously a necessary capability. It not only refers to the ability to keep high current control accuracy at a very low level but also includes the ability to switch very quickly between charging and discharging modes and between different current levels. These requirements are not only driven by the need to mass-produce lithium-ion batteries with consistent characteristics and quality but also by the hope to use testing procedures and equipment as innovative tools to create a competitive advantage in the market.

12v-Battery-Pack

Although a variety of tests are required for different types of batteries, today’s testers are optimized for specific battery sizes. For example, if you are testing a large battery, a larger current is required, which translates to larger inductance, thicker wires, etc. So many aspects are involved when creating a tester that can handle high currents.

However, many factories do not only produce one type of battery. They may produce a complete set of large batteries for a customer while meeting all the test requirements for these batteries, or they may produce a set of smaller batteries with a smaller current for a smartphone customer.

This is the reason for the rising cost of testing–the battery tester is optimized for the current. Testers that can handle higher currents are generally larger and more expensive because they not only require larger silicon wafers but also magnetic components and wiring to meet electromigration rules and minimize voltage drops in the system. The factory needs to prepare a variety of testing equipment at any time to meet the production and inspection of various types of batteries. Due to the different types of batteries produced by the factory at different times, some testers may be incompatible with specific batteries and may be left unused.

Whether it is for today’s emerging factories for mass production of ordinary lithium-ion batteries or for battery manufacturers who want to use the testing process to create novel battery products, flexible test equipment must be used to adapt to a wider range of batteries’ capacity and physical size, thereby reducing capital investment and improving the return on investment.