A designer’s guide to smart battery applications

February 24, 2017 // By Michele Windsor
When integrating a rechargeable battery into a professional application, especially into a mission critical medical or military device, the first things that come to mind are reliability and safety. However, there are many other factors designers need to consider throughout the various stages of custom battery design.

Many design engineers believe that, as its power source, the battery is the very heart of the product. However, I would go even deeper into the core of the battery and argue that it is the cell that is the nucleus of the battery, determining the performance, lifecycle and durability of the application.

There is no such thing as a typical battery design project.  This is partly because bespoke power sources are used everywhere from hospitals to manufacturing plants and military operations. Some customers might be looking for high energy capacity, whilst others might need low temperature performance, high availability, a longer cycle life or a specific battery size. In other words, finding out exactly what you want the battery to do for your piece of equipment is crucial to the success of the design.

One fundamental guideline is to decide whether the battery has to withstand extreme conditions such as freezing temperatures, scorching heats, humidity or dirt. In order to guarantee efficiency, we select only the type of cells that are suitable to these conditions. In these instances, the electronics need to be programmed differently to cope with the various environments, whilst the physical characteristics of the battery need to be robust enough for the given extremes.

Intelligent cell selection can also help ensure the future availability of the battery, which means the cell can be replaced if a superior version becomes available. This guarantees a longer life-cycle for your battery and helps alleviate obsolescence related issues.