Over the past several decades, battery management has evolved in parallel with how batteries are designed. It used to be that all battery packs had units that would supervise all the cells that were part of the battery pack, a local management unit for subcommunication, and a junction box to communicate with the other battery packs. This type of architecture required a lot of wiring and cabling.
The trend today is moving toward a more centralized, wireless BMS concept that alleviates the bulk of cabling required in older architectures. Not only does this make maintenance easier, but it also removes a lot of weight from the battery pack, which directly translates to energy savings. In an EV, this can lead to larger ranges that the EV can drive before it needs to be charged and also decrease the time it takes the system to charge.
Another trend that we will continue to move toward is using simulation for BMS design because of how complex batteries are today and all the challenges that come with hardware development, prototyping, and testing. Simulation and virtual prototyping allow battery pack engineers to validate specifications earlier in the design process when the architecture pack and the electrical load (clock, traction motor, ongoing charging module, etc.) have not been fully defined and is subject to change. That’s where Synopsys comes in with development and characterization tools, which allow virtual controller platforms for efficient development of software against the virtual hardware prototype and more.
One such tool is Synopsys SaberRD, which gives engineers access to electrical, digital, control, and thermal hydraulic model libraries which allow them to quickly generate models from basic datasheet specs and measurement curves for many electronic devices and different battery chemistry types, including lithium-ion. Statistical, stress, and fault analyses permit verification across spectrums of the operating region, including boundary areas, to ensure overall BMS reliability. Tools like these shorten the hardware prototype cycle significantly, which saves money in the design process itself and avoids potentially costly warranty callbacks. Software is taking an increasingly critical role in the operation of the vehicle. Battery management systems can benefit from an automotive electronics digital twin enabling the simulation of complete systems from controller HW and software to the full multi-domain battery and power electronics.
In conclusion, the world of batteries is moving quickly to keep up with increased demand for electric vehicles, new innovations in electricity storage for energy derived from sustainable energy sources, electric planes and trucks, and more. Battery management systems are advancing with modern batteries to ensure the safety of the end users, increase the reliability of these batteries, continue the march toward increased range, and reduce costs so that batteries are even more ubiquitous and effective in tomorrow’s world.