French rugged smart battery aims at electric cars

December 07, 2018 // By Nick Flaherty
A new smart battery architecture developed in France is set for production later next year.

The Sigma Cells battery developed by the French CEA-Leti research agency can power products ranging from laptops to electric vehicles and is the world’s first three-in-one battery solution with integrated inverter, charging and battery-management functions. The rugged design means that if a cell is about to fail, Sigma Cells finds an alternative pathway, activating the “best” cells and, in the process, preventing downtime.

The battery-management system (BMS) architecture and operating mode deliver the inverter and charging functions by default. In addition to freeing up space an electric vehicle, the position of the batteries is flexible. Because the system operates with traditional grid voltage, any standard electrical outlet in any region of the world can be used for charging. The integrated charger and bidirectional system enable fast charging directly off the grid at no additional cost and the battery lifespan is increased by 15 percent.

“Electric-powered transportation is booming, but the industry must solve several battery-management challenges,” said Philippe Despesse, senior engineer at CEA-Leti. “Currently, if one cell in a battery pack fails, it generates a fault on the whole pack. At best, this puts the battery pack out of service until it can be repaired. At worst, the battery is discarded. CEAswitched-cell technology will revolutionize batteries by lengthening their lifespans and reducing weight and size.”

Production is planned for September 2019.

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