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Developments in Lithium-Ion Batteries
The past six months witnessed a tremendous amount of activity in the field of lithium-ion batteries, both in terms of new product announcements and business developments within the industry.
March was the month for the release of several interesting products and technologies. Envia Systems announced that its High Capacity Manganese Rich (HCMR) cathode material for advanced batteries is available in limited quantities for pilot vehicle programs. Envia’s HCMR technology exceeds the performance of today’s market-available battery solutions designed for electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
Envia’s HCMR technology is the first of its proprietary cathode and anode materials for Li-Ion batteries to be readied for commercial testing. Envia’s HCMR cathode material enables batteries that are distinct in five primary ways: using low cost safe materials, delivering unmatched energy density, providing excellent cycle life and offering an inherent ability to customize battery size and output in order to meet the demands of a variety of applications, particularly EVs and PHEVs.
Envia states that its HCMR cathode has twice the capacity over currently available cathode materials. This capacity doubling enables battery-makers to make much smaller battery packs that can significantly reduce the costs of EVs and PHEVs.
GS Yuasa Lithium Power Inc. announced the release of two new lithium ion battery modules: the "LIM50E-7G" and the "LIM50E-8G." According to the company, this new line of battery modules provides a new level of value to customers in need of energy storage solutions that offer high energy density and long service life. LIM50E module applications include utility grid ancillary support, community energy storage, industrial electric vehicles, telecommunications back-up power and others.
GlobTek unveiled its new GS-2262 series of Li-ON chargers, which the company says offer a compact and cost effective solution for charging GlobTek’s GL-523434A2 Lithium-Ion and Lithium Polymer battery pack. It features the ability to be custom tailored for specific applications while providing the high levels of safety in the lithium battery charger. This smart charger includes pre-qualification of the battery condition before bulk charging will commence. If the battery voltage is low, a trickle charge will be enabled until the voltage is high enough for safe bulk current charging. Constant current and constant voltage charging technique is utilized during the bulk charging phase. Charge is terminated when charging current drops to 10% of the bulk charge level. A programmable charge timer is also included as a safety back-up for charge termination. Charge status indicators using two LEDs and battery over temperature protection are also included.
In May, Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) introduced a battery management integrated circuit that increases the life of rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs and maximizes available energy for hybrid and electric vehicles, power tools and uninterruptible power source (UPS) applications. The stackable bq76PL536 battery monitor, balancer and protector incorporates analog-to-digital converters for independent cell voltage and temperature protection, cell balancing and isolated chip-to-chip communication. The device intelligently measures battery cell voltages to 1-mV accuracy, which is needed for demanding new lithium chemistries.
The bq76PL536 also provides full secondary protection for over voltage, under voltage and over temperature conditions. When safety thresholds are exceeded, the device sets the fault and alert outputs independently of the normal communication channel. No external components are needed to configure or enable the protection features.