Decentralized Smart Energy Systems: Smart Battery Cells

In our group at TUMCREATE Singapore, we are continuing our line of research on the decentralization of smart energy systems. In the context of smart energy grids with volatile renewable energy sources and emerging electric vehicles, development of cost-efficient and sustainable energy storage systems is a key challenge for the success of these technologies. Electrical energy storages currently are the bottleneck slowing down the introduction of electric mobility.

On the one hand, cost of lithium-ion batteries in correlation with the obtainable driving range is a constraint. On the other hand, safety aspects are not fully mastered. While there is a continuous but slow progress on the battery chemistry side to increase energy density and safety, the domain of embedded systems can contribute significantly higher progress regarding safety, cost efficiency and reliability of such systems. For this purpose, a new approach to battery pack architectures and battery management was developed within our Smart Battery Cells project since 2014. Here, each individual battery cell is eventually outfitted with a Sytem-On-Chip which monitors and controls the parameters of the cell, making it a smart cell. This translates concepts from the IoT domain to energy storages.

On battery pack level, the network of smart cells creates a distributed system where pack-level functionality is coordinated via communication between the smart cells. The modular decentralized architecture enables more efficient approaches to different battery management functions such as active cell balancing. Modular active cell balancing will increase the efficiency, lifetime and effective capacity of battery packs. To this field, my group has contributed architectures, models, optimization and verification methods, and strategies. We have built a research platform that enables us to analyze the hardware and software architecture of smart cells with active cell balancing capabilities. This line of research manifests in more than 20 publications.