Battery Management Systems (BMS)

Posted: Juli 24, 2009 in Artikel

BMS means different things to different people. To some it is simply Battery Monitoring, keeping a check on the key operational parameters during charging and discharging such as voltages and currents and the battery internal and ambient temperature. The monitoring circuits would normally provide inputs to protection devices which would generate alarms or disconnect the battery from the load or charger should any of the parameters become out of limits.

For the power or plant engineer responsible for standby power who’s battery is the last line of defence against a power blackout or a telecommunications network outage BMS means Battery Management Systems. Such systems encompass not only the monitoring and protection of the battery but also methods for keeping it ready to deliver full power when called upon and methods for prolonging its life. This includes everything from controlling the charging regime to planned maintenance.

For the automotive engineer the Battery Management System is a component of a much more complex fast acting Energy Management System and must interface with other on board systems such as engine management, climate controls, communications and safety systems.

There are thus many varieties of BMS.

Designing a BMS

In order to control battery performance and safety it is necessary to understand what needs to be controlled and why it needs controlling. This requires an in depth understanding of the fundamental cell chemistries, performance characteristics and battery failure modes particularly Lithium battery failures. The battery can not simply be treated as a black box.

BMS Building Blocks

There are three main objectives common to all Battery Management Systems

  • Protect the cells or the battery from damage
  • Prolong the life of the battery
  • Maintain the battery in a state in which it can fulfil the functional requirements of the application for which it was specified.

To achieve these objectives the BMS may incorporate one or more of the following functions. (Follow the links to see how these functions are implemented.)

  • Cell Protection Protecting the battery from out of tolerance operating conditions is fundamental to all BMS applications. In practice the BMS must provide full cell protection to cover almost any eventuality. Operating a battery outside of its specified design limits will inevitably lead to failure of the battery. Apart from the inconvenience, the cost of replacing the battery can be prohibitive. This is particularly true for high voltage and high power automotive batteries which must operate in hostile environments and which at the same time are subject to abuse by the user.
  • Charge control This is an essential feature of BMS. More batteries are damaged by inappropriate charging than by any other cause.
  • Demand Management While not directly related to the operation of the battery itself, demand management refers to the application in which the battery is used. Its objective is to minimise the current drain on the battery by designing power saving techniques into the applications circuitry and thus prolong the time between battery charges.
  • SOC Determination Many applications require a knowledge of the State of Charge (SOC) of the battery or of the individual cells in the battery chain. This may simply be for providing the user with an indication of the capacity left in the battery, or it could be needed in a control circuit to ensure optimum control of the charging process.
  • SOH Determination The State of Health (SOH) is a measure of a battery’s capability to deliver its specified output. This is vital for assessing the readiness of emergency power equipment and is an indicator of whether maintenance actions are needed.
  • Cell Balancing In multi-cell battery chains small differences between cells due to production tolerances or operating conditions tend to be magnified with each charge / discharge cycle. Weaker cells become overstressed during charging causing them to become even weaker, until they eventually fail causing premature failure of the battery. Cell balancing is a way of compensating for weaker cells by equalising the charge on all the cells in the chain and thus extending battery life.
  • History – (Log Book Function) Monitoring and storing the battery’s history is another possible function of the BMS. This is needed in order to estimate the State of Health of the battery, but also to determine whether it has been subject to abuse. Parameters such as number of cycles, maximum and minimum voltages and temperatures and maximum charging and discharging currents can be recorded for subsequent evaluation. This can be an important tool in assessing warranty claims.
  • Authentication and Identification The BMS also allows the possibility to record information about the cell such as the manufacturer’s type designation and the cell chemistry which can facilitate automatic testing and the batch or serial number and the date of manufacture which enables traceability in case of cell failures.
  • Communications Most BMS systems incorporate some form of communications between the battery and the charger or test equipment. Some have links to other systems interfacing with the battery for monitoring its condition or its history. Communications interfaces are also needed to allow the user access to the battery for modifying the BMS control parameters or for diagnostics and test.

The following examples illustrate three very different applications of BMS in action.

Intelligent Batteries

The life of rechargeable NiCad and Nickel Metal Hydride batteries such as those used in power tools can be extended by the use of an intelligent charging system which facilitates communications between the battery and the charger. The battery provides information about its specification, its current condition and its usage history which is used by the charger to determine the optimum charging profile or, by the application in which it is used, to control its usage.

The prime objective of the charger/battery combination is to permit the incorporation of a wider range of Protection Circuits which prevent overcharging of, or damage to, the battery and thus extend its life. Charge control can be in either the battery or the charger. The objective of the application/battery combination is to prevent overloads and to conserve the battery. Similar to the charger combination, discharge control can be in either the application or in the battery.

Although some special cells incorporating intelligence have been developed, the intelligence is more likely to be implemented in a battery pack.

The system works as follows:

The Intelligent Battery, or Smart Battery, provides outputs from sensors which give the actual status of voltages, currents and temperatures within the battery as well as the state of charge. It can also provide alarm functions indicating out of tolerance conditions.

The Intelligent Battery also contains a memory chip which is programmed by the manufacturer with information about the battery specification such as:-

  • Manufacturing data (Name, date, serial number etc)
  • Cell chemistry
  • Cell capacity
  • Mechanical outline code
  • Upper and lower voltage limits
  • Maximum current limits
  • Temperature limits

Once the battery is placed into use, the memory may also record :-

  • How many times the battery has been charged and discharged.
  • Elapsed time
  • The internal impedance of the battery
  • The temperature profile to which it has been subjected
  • The operation of any forced cooling circuits
  • Any instances when limits have been exceeded.

The system also requires devices which may be in either the battery or the charger or both which can interrupt or modify the charging according to a set of rules. Similarly, battery discharge can be controlled by the battery or demand management circuits in the application.

The Intelligent Battery also needs an Intelligent Charger it can talk to and a language they can speak.

The charger is programmed to respond to inputs from the battery, to optimise the charging profile, charging at the maximum rate until a preset temperature is reached, then slowing down or stopping the charge and or switching on a cooling fan so as not to exceed the temperature limit and thus avoid permanent damage to the battery. If a deterioration in the battery internal impedance indicates that reconditioning is necessary the charger can also be programmed to reform the battery by subjecting it to several deep charge, discharge cycles. Because the battery contains information about its specification which can be read by the charger, it is possible to build Universal Chargers which can automatically adapt the charging profile to a range of battery chemistries and capacities, so long as they comply with an agreed message protocol.

A separate communications channel is needed to facilitate interactions between the battery and the charger. One example used for simple applications is the System Management Bus ( SMBus) which forms part of the Smart Battery System which is used mainly in low power applications. Batteries which comply with the SBS standard are called Smart Batteries. Intelligent batteries are however not limited to the SMS scheme and many manufacturers have implemented their own proprietary schemes which may be simpler or more complex, depending on the requirements of the application.

A 50% increase in battery life has been claimed by using such techniques.

Automatic Control System

This is an example of an Automatic Control System in which the battery provides information about its actual condition to the charger which compares the actual condition with the desired condition and generates an error signal which is used to initiate control actions to bring the actual condition into line with the desired condition. The control signals form part of a Feedback Loop which provides automatic compensation to keep the battery within its desired operating parameters. It does not require any user intervention. Some form of automatic control system is an essential part of all BMS

Battery Monitoring

As well as talking to the charger, the Intelligent Battery can also talk to the user or to other systems of which the battery may be a part. The signals it provides can be used to turn on warning lights or to inform the user about the condition of the battery and how much charge it has left.

Monitoring the battery condition is an essential part of all Battery Management Systems. In the first of the following two examples, the control actions are manual, – the power plant maintenance engineer fixes any deficiencies. In the second example the battery is part of an Automatic Control System made up from several interlinked feedback loops controlling the battery itself and its role as part of the overall vehicle energy management system.

Power Plant BMS

The battery management requirements are quite different for standby and emergency power installations. Batteries may be inactive for long periods topped up by a trickle charge from time to time, or as in telecommunications installations they may be kept on float charge to keep them fully charged at all times. By their nature, such installations must be available for use at all times. An essential responsibility of managing such installations is to know the status of the battery and whether it can be relied upon to support its load during an outage. For this it is vital to know the SOH and the SOC of the battery. In the case of lead acid batteries the SOC of individual cells can be determined by using a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of the electrolyte in the cells. Traditionally, the only way of determining the SOH was by discharge testing, that is, by completely discharging the battery and measuring its output. Such testing is very inconvenient. For a large installation it could take eight hours to discharge the battery and another three days to recharge it. During this time the installation would be without emergency power unless a back up battery was provided.

The modern way to measure the SOH of a battery is by impedance testing or by conductance testing . It has been found that a cell’s impedance has an inverse correlation with the SOC and the conductance being the reciprocal of the impedance has a direct correlation with the SOH of the cell. Both of these tests can be carried out without discharging the battery, but better still the monitoring device can remain in place providing a permanent on line measurement. This allows the plant engineer to have an up to date assessment of the battery condition so that any deterioration in cell performance can be detected and appropriate maintenance actions can be planned.

Automotive BMS

Automotive battery management is much more demanding than the previous two examples. It has to interface with a number of other on board systems, it has to work in real time in rapidly changing charging and discharging conditions

as the vehicle accelerates and brakes, and it has to work in a harsh and uncontrolled environment. This example describes a complex system as an illustration of what is possible, however not all applications will require all the functions shown here.

The functions of a BMS suitable for a hybrid electric vehicle are as follows:

  • Monitoring the conditions of individual cells which make up the battery
  • Maintaining all the cells within their operating limits
  • Protecting the cells from out of tolerance conditions
  • Providing a “Fail Safe” mechanism in case of uncontrolled conditions, loss of communications or abuse
  • Isolating the battery in cases of emergency
  • Compensating for any imbalances in cell parameters within the battery chain
  • Setting the battery operating point to allow regenerative braking charges to be absorbed without overcharging the battery.
  • Providing information on the State of Charge (SOC) of the battery. This function is often referred to as the “Fuel Gauge” or “Gas Gauge
  • Providing information on the State of Health (SOH) of the battery. This measurement gives an indication of the condition of a used battery relative to a new battery.
  • Providing information for driver displays and alarms
  • Predicting the range possible with the remaining charge in the battery (Only EVs require this)
  • Accepting and implementing control instructions from related vehicle systems
  • Providing the optimum charging algorithm for charging the cells
  • Providing pre-charging to allow load impedance testing before switch on and two stage charging to limit inrush currents
  • Providing means of access for charging individual cells
  • Responding to changes in the vehicle operating mode
  • Recording battery usage and abuse. (The frequency, magnitude and duration of out of tolerance conditions) Known as the Log Book function
  • Emergency “Limp Home Mode” in case of cell failure.

In practical systems the BMS can thus incorporate more vehicle functions than simply managing the battery. It can determine the vehicle’s desired operating mode, whether it is accelerating, braking, idling or stopped, and implement the associated electrical power management actions.

Cell Protection

One of the prime functions of the Battery Management System is to provide the necessary monitoring and control to protect the cells from out of tolerance ambient or operating conditions. This is of particular importance in automotive applications because of the harsh working environment. As well as individual cell protection the automotive system must be designed to respond to external fault conditions by isolating the battery as well as addressing the cause of the fault. For example cooling fans can be turned on if the battery overheats. If the overheating becomes excessive then the battery can be disconnected.

Protection methods are discussed in detail in the section on Protection.

Battery State of Charge (SOC)

Determining the State of Charge (SOC) of the battery is the second major function of the BMS. The SOC is needed not just for providing the Fuel Gauge indication. The BMS monitors and calculates the SOC of each individual cell in the battery to check for uniform charge in all of the cells in order to verify that individual cells do not become overstressed.

The SOC indication is also used to determine the end of the charging and discharging cycles. Over-charging and over-discharging are two of the prime causes of battery failure and the BMS must maintain the cells within the desired DOD operating limits.

Hybrid vehicle batteries require both high power charge capabilities for regenerative braking and high power discharge capabilities for launch assist or boost. For this reason, their batteries must be maintained at a SOC that can discharge the required power but still have enough headroom to accept the necessary regenerative power without risking overcharging the cells. To fully charge the HEV battery for cell balancing (See below) would diminish charge acceptance capability for regenerative braking and hence braking efficiency. The lower limit is set to optimise fuel economy and also to prevent over discharge which could shorten the life of the battery. Accurate SOC information is therefore needed for HEVs to keep the battery operating within the required, safe limits.

HEV Battery Operating Range (klik untuk melanjutkan bacaan)

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