For most, rechargeable batteries are thought of as the fit and forget item that starts the car in the morning, or the ‘never lasts long enough’ battery in their mobile ‘phone or tablet / laptop computer. Modern rechargeable batteries have found their way into a multitude of uses in the modern world and can be found operating from the depths of the ocean through to outer space.
Rechargeable Lithium Batteries
The arrival of rechargeable lithium batteries has made a huge difference in the range of applications that can be addressed. With much lower self-discharge rates than previous types of rechargeable battery, combined with very efficient chargeability and a superior specific energy, rechargeable batteries are finding their way into applications previously thought of as being the preserve of non-rechargeable types.
However, all this improved performance comes at a price, both in terms of the actual product, but also the need for proper battery management and the education of the user. A properly managed rechargeable lithium battery can last many more charge/discharge cycles than a similar nickel based product, but only if it is used correctly.
There is still a strong demand for the older technology nickel based products. Nickel cadmium is still used in a few specialist applications, but due to issues with cadmium is not seen as a design solution for many applications. Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) cells and batteries are in widespread general use, and there are some specialised areas of energy storage and hybrid vehicle use where this is the technology of choice. Continued investment in the technology means that in some applications there is little to choose between a correctly specified NiMH battery and a lithium based one.
Additional Battery Features
The longer operating life of these new batteries means that additional features become economical to build into the battery, if implementation of these features is addressed at an early stage. Improved accuracy of state of charge data, combined with more diagnostic state of battery health features, can provide the user with far more confidence in knowing the battery fitted to the equipment being operated will perform the task required for the necessary duration.
Some specialised lithium variants can provide very high power densities, resulting in them becoming application technology enablers. New variants offer even better specific energy over a temperature range traditionally thought to be outside the range of rechargeable batteries. There are also new chemistries being trialled and researched that will give even greater performance benefits. Hardly a month goes by without a research group claiming the latest breakthrough in battery design. But, it is a long and tortuous path from the research lab into the factory, and it is often the information not included in the announcement that needs the most careful consideration.
Battery Application Criteria
The key to successful implementation is addressing the needs of the design with the most suitable power source.
Designers must make sure that the correct balance is struck between cycle life and calendar life, energy and power density, whilst addressing safety and, of course, cost, whilst still providing a product that is easy to use and maintain across a wide range of environmental conditions requires careful consideration.
Independent Battery Consultancy
DM Power Solutions provides an independent consultancy service that will work with you to identify the key parameters important to your product.
Identification of additional features that can be utilised will enable you to produce a product that will use its energy store in the most efficient way possible whilst keeping development risk to a low level.
To get a specialised, independent, battery design engineer working for you, saving your equipment designers time and effort, please fill in the enquiry form on the contact page of this website.
Let the battery power your design to success!
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