Tag Archives: Li-Ion

Low cost single cell L-Ion battery pack simulator

Mare @ e.pavlin.si designed a single cell Li-Ion battery pack simulator to facilitate the testing process of a new device.

Modern battery operated portable devices use smart battery packs. Every new development of an electronic medical device must follow strict design flow defined by world-wide or local regulatory
directives. The development process of any such device using smart battery pack requires specific operating conditions to meet the testing criteria. When smart battery pack is one of the main power sources the host system should be tested with several battery states. The testing is necessary during development, validation and later in production testing.

Low cost single cell Li-Ion battery pack simulator – [Link]

Newly Developed Internal Temperature Sensor For Li-ion Battery Enables 5x Faster Charging

Researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK have developed sensors which measure the internal temperature and electrode potential of Lithium batteries. The technology is being developed by the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) as a part of a battery’s normal operation. More intense testings have been done on standard commercially available automotive battery cells.

Researchersdeveloped a sensor to measure the internal termperature and electrode potential of lithum batterry
Researchers developed a sensor to measure the internal temperature and electrode potential of lithium battery

If a battery overheats it becomes a risk for critical damage to the electrolyte, breaking down to form gases that are both flammable and can cause significant pressure build-up inside the battery. On the other hand, overcharging of the anode can lead to Lithium electroplating, forming a metallic crystalline structure that can cause internal short circuits and fires. So, overcharging and overheating of a Li-ion battery is hugely damaging to the battery along with the user.

The researchers at Warwick developed miniature reference electrodes and Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBG) threaded through a strain protection layer. An outer coat of Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) was applied over the fiber, ensuring chemical protection from the corrosive electrolyte. The end result is a sensor which has direct contact with all the key components of the battery. The sensor can withstand electrical, chemical and mechanical stress faced during the normal operation of the battery while still giving accurate temperature and potential readings of the electrodes.

The device includes an in-situ reference electrode coupled with an optical fiber temperature sensor. The researchers are confident that similar techniques can also be developed for use in pouch cells. WMG Associate Professor Dr. Rohit Bhagat said,

This method gave us a novel instrumentation design for use on commercial 18650 cells that minimizes the adverse and previously unavoidable alterations to the cell geometry,

The data from these internal sensors are much more precise than external sensing. This has been shown that with the help of these new sensors, Lithium batteries that are available today could be charged at least five times faster than the current rates of charging.

This could bring huge benefits to areas such as motor racing, gaining crucial benefits from being able to push the performance limits. This new technology also creates massive opportunities for consumers and energy storage providers.

JuiceBox Zero: Easiest way to power a Pi Zero with a battery

You have a Raspberry Pi project, but it’s no good stuck to a wall! JuiceBox Zero is the simplest way to properly power your Pi Zero. by Samuel Anderson @ kickstarter.com:

I had an amazing project for Raspberry Pi that needed to be battery powered. I searched and found a few boards that served the purpose.  Unfortunately, they were a bit cumbersome, and sadly, they weren’t “plug-n-play” with Raspberry Pi!

When the Pi Zero was released, I instantly saw the potential its tiny form factor provided for truly mobile inventions. But to be truly mobile, it can’t be tethered to a power source. Just imagine how useless a smartphone would be if it had to be plugged into the wall!

The project is live on kickstarter and available for funding.

Could Sodium-ion Batteries be a Replacement for Li-ion Batteries?

Batteries made by Tiamat, a sodium battery startup spun off from the National Center for Scientific Research in France.

In early 1990s lithium-ion batteries started gaining popularity as a substitute for nickel-cadmium batteries. They have higher energy density, low self- discharge, and low maintenance, but it was soon found that they have short life span, unstability which causes security concerns and creates the need for protection circuits (to maintain it within safe limits), and are really expensive to produce. Lithium is scarce (or is soon going to be), only 0,06% of earth crust is made of this material and its mainly found in South America. A start up called Tiamat formed by scientists at several French universities proposed an alternative to lithium-ion batteries, they developed the first sodium-ion battery in industry standard 18650 cell size.

Unlike Lithium, sodium makes up 2.6% of earths crust which makes it the sixth most abundant element. As a raw material sodium sells at about $150 a ton compared to $15,000 a ton for lithium. Sodium batteries are cheaper to produce than lithium batteries, leading to a lower selling price. Also, the lifespan is about ten years compared to lithium which is 4 years and Sodium-ion batteries can last for up to 5000 charge/discharge cycles. Tiamat batteries are not a fire hazard, and provide more stability for a cheaper price.

Scientists want to use these batteries mainly for mass storage of interment renewable energies such as solar o wind. Tiamat is not looking to make Li-ion batteries disappear, instead they want to focus on their long lasting power, and use it for stationary storage. This type of battery could be used in electric cars to allow lasting trips with short recharge time. Production has not started, but when it is approved, and they start to sell France could become a leader in this type of technology. This startup has the support of RS2E (Réseau sur le stockage électrochimique de l’ énergie) a French research network dedicated to energy storage devices, and they plan to launch the product on 2020.

Nowadays, lithium batteries are used mainly for smartphones, laptops, and cars that means that if a new technology was going to replace them, a much better alternative would be needed. Even when sodium batteries are cheaper and safer they still have performance issues that could affect their sales, but as Tiamat said they are not looking to replace these and their market is completely different. For now, the cells produced offer only about half of the energy density of Li-ion and are yet to be improved in many aspects.

[Source]

Flexipower – A portable, Controllable, Dual Channel Power Supply

Hobbyists, makers, students and pretty much everyone who works with electronics has encountered the same issue, not having a handy power supply to test their projects. Usually, controllable power supplies are big, expensive and for some people difficult to access, and most small power supplies are not controllable. As a result, Roberto Lo Giacco created Flexipower, a small, portable, flexible, and remotely controllable dual channel power supply.

Flexipower is controlled via a mobile application and its battery operated. It can work up to a voltage of 20 V and a current of 1 A (per channel). Power supply is powered by two cell Li-Ion or Li-Poly batteries which provide 8.4 v when fully charged, to reach higher voltages the battery is fed into a voltage step up circuit, and to get lower voltages the battery is fed into a high current linear voltage regulator. Also, a simple voltage divider along with the 10-bit ADC is used to measure the produced voltage, and adjust accordingly.

Current measuring is done through a 1 Ohm shunt resistor network made by ten 10 Ohm resistors in parallel which results in 1 mV voltage drop per mA. In the case of currents lower than 320mA, the integrated circuit INA219 is used to obtain a very precise reading. When the supplied current goes above the capacity of the INA219 the shunt resistor voltage drop is measured using the 10 bit ADC.

As mentioned before, Flexipower uses 2 rechargeable batteries that are charged via a barrel jack connecting a 12 V source capable of around 1 A. An RGB LED is used to inform the user about the status of the device (power on, battery warning, connection status etc.). The LED is also used to indicate the battery status. Additionally, each channel has a green/red LED to indicate if it is enabled (green), or over current (yellow).

Furthermore, the device can create “Flexipower SSID”, an access point for people to connect and control the power supply. The app was created to avoid using a big LCD screen with limited data logging capabilities. The app allows control, unlimited data logging and visualization just with the use of a smartphone.

For complete specifications, list of materials used, schematics and app download go to official website. The creator always tried to minimize components costs while still providing a lot of capabilities. It still can be improved, but it’s a project that could make the life of people easier. Its important to clarify that this device is not a replacement for benchtop power supplies, but for portability is a great option.

Rechargeable Magnesium Batteries – Safer And Cheaper Than Li-ion Batteries

Researchers at the University of Houston reported in the journal Nature Communications the discovery of a new design that significantly improves the development of a battery based on magnesium. Magnesium batteries are considered as safe resources of power supply – unlike traditional lithium-ion batteries. They are not flammable or subject to exploding – but their ability to store energy is very limited. But the latest discovery of the new design for the battery cathode drastically increases the storage capacity.

Energy diagrams for the intercalation and diffusion of Mg2+ and MgCl+
Energy diagrams for the intercalation and diffusion of Mg2+ and MgCl+ in magnesium batteries

In order to make magnesium batteries, the magnesium-chloride bond must be broken before inserting magnesium into the host, and this is very hard to do. Hyun Deog Yoo, the first author of the paper, said,

First of all, it is very difficult to break magnesium-chloride bonds. More than that, magnesium ions produced in that way move extremely slowly in the host. That altogether lowers the battery’s efficiency.

The new battery technology stores energy by inserting magnesium monochloride into titanium disulfide, which acts as a host. By keeping the magnesium-chloride bond intact, the cathode showed much faster diffusion than traditional magnesium batteries.

The researchers managed to achieve a storage capacity density of 400 mAh/g – a quadruple increase compared with 100 mAh/g for earlier magnesium batteries. This achievement even overpowered the 200 mAh/g cathode capacity of commercially available lithium-ion batteries. Yoo, who is also the head investigator with the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, confirmed this fact.

The cell voltage of a magnesium cell is only 1V which is significantly less than a lithium-ion battery which has 3.7V cell voltage. Higher cell voltage and high cathode capacity made Li-ion batteries the standard. Li-ion batteries suffer from an internal structural breach, known as dendrite growth what makes them catch fire. Being an earth-abundant material, magnesium is less expensive than lithium and is not prone to dendrite growth.

The magnesium monochloride molecules are too large to be inserted into the titanium disulfide using conventional methods. The trick they developed is to expand the titanium disulfide to allow magnesium chloride to be inserted rather than breaking the magnesium-chloride bonds and inserting the magnesium alone. Retaining the magnesium-chloride bond doubled the charge the cathode could store. Yoo said,

We hope this is a general strategy. Inserting various polyatomic ions in higher voltage hosts, we eventually aim to create higher-energy batteries at a lower price, especially for electric vehicles.

Integrated 36V buck battery charger provides seamless backup power

By Graham Prophet @ eedesignnewseurope.com:

LTC4091 is a complete lithium-ion battery backup management system for 3.45V to 4.45V supply rails that must be kept active during a long duration main power failure. The LTC4091 employs a 36V monolithic buck converter with adaptive output control to provide power to a system load and enable high efficiency battery charging from the buck output.

Integrated 36V buck battery charger provides seamless backup power – [Link]

Fuel gauge needs no battery characterization

by Susan Nordyk @ edn.com

The MAX17055 single-cell fuel gauge from Maxim not only eliminates battery characterization, but also keeps SOC (state-of-charge) error to within 1% in most scenarios. With its ModelGauge m5 EZ algorithm, the device provides tolerance against battery diversity for most lithium batteries and applications. It also allows system designer’s to decide when to shut down the device when the battery gets low, maximizing device runtime.

As the battery approaches the critical region near empty, the ModelGauge m5 algorithm invokes a special error correction mechanism that eliminates any error. In addition, it provides three methods for reporting the age of the battery: reduction in capacity, increase in battery resistance, and cycle odometer.

Fuel gauge needs no battery characterization – [Link]

Simple circuit indicates health of lithium-ion batteries

Fritz Weld @ edn.com proposes a simple circuit to check li-ion battery health. He writes:

Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to bad treatment. Fire, explosions, and other hazardous condition may occur when you charge the cell below the margin that the manufacturer defines. Modern battery chargers can manage the hazardous conditions and deny operation when illegal situations occur. This fact doesn’t mean, however, that all cells are bad. In most cases, you can replace the discharged battery and increase your device’s lifetime. Figure 1 shows the circuit for testing battery packs.

Simple circuit indicates health of lithium-ion batteries – [Link]

TP4056 3V3 Load Share Upgrade

A lot of project are battery powered and some of them need dual battery links. Robert on hackaday.io had shared his new project that shed light on this issue. He built an load sharing addon board with the ability to charge the battery while the project is operating.

Many Chinese charger boards are out there based on TP4056, but these boards don’t have the load sharing or voltage regulator features.

Load sharing means that you can power your circuit in two ways, from battery and from Vcc if a charger is connected. Once the charger is connected the battery will start charging and the load will be powered directly from Vcc. Robert added this feature to a recent design and also he added voltage regulation by using MCP1252.

The Components needed to build this project:

  • 1x  MCP1252-33X50/MS Power: Management IC / Switching Regulators
  • 1x  FDN304P: Discrete Semiconductors / Diode-Transistor Modules
  • 1x  SGL1-40-DIO: Schottky diode
  • 2x  100k 1206 resistor
  • 3x  10uF 1206 capacitor X7R
  • 1x  2.2uF 0805 capacitor X7R
  • 1x  ON/OFF switch (optional)
  • 2x  2 pin pcb connector
  • 1x  PCB from OSHpark

This schematic was inspired by multiple designs and modified by Robert.

“The advantage of MCP1252 is automatic buck/boost feature, it will maintain the regulated output voltage whether the input voltage is above or below the output voltage (2.1 to 5.0 V input range) so it is ideal for the lithium battery voltage. If you read the datasheet for the MCP1252-33X50I/MS there is clearly specified what type of MLCC capacitor should be used.”

The maximum output current of this board is 120mA and the output voltage is 3.3 V. It may sound not that suitable for your projects if you want to power an ESP8266, but still you can build your own board with different components to achieve the outputs you need. For example, by using MCP1253, which is identical to MCP1252, you will get  higher switching frequency (1MHz). Robert’s plan is to use this board with CO2 sensor (about 30 mA) and other low power sensors, some MCU and LCD, which can be powered using 120 mA.

Some measurements will be done to test the functionality of this board. To keep updated with the news of this project, you can follow the project on hackaday.io. You can also check other projects by Robert here.