Power Trend: Reliability and Encryption Trends in Medical Devices

ImageOne of the most serious issues facing medical device manufacturers today is how to balance security and functionality within the limited capacity of a portable power source. During a recent trip to the Medical Device & Manufacturing (MD&M) West conference, I attended several seminars that addressed the specific challenges involved with wireless devices, mobile medical apps and power source technologies.

A phenomenon dubbed, “the consumerization of healthcare” has tasked manufacturers with creating medical devices that function alongside patients’ smartphones and tablets. They want a device to perform its healthcare function and also communicate relevant information to medical professionals in a timely manner. Once the information has been shared with a patient’s nurse or doctor, the latest technologies now allow for real-time device adjustments from miles away.

These advancements do not come without risk. In September 2012, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) start considering the realistic security risks involved with wireless medical devices. This recommendation was made following two demonstrations in which high profile hacker, Barnaby Jack, delivered a deadly volt to a pacemaker and dispensed more than a week’s worth of insulin in a single dose from a wireless pump.

Aside from the risk to a patient’s physical well being, hackers can also access a range of personal information, including financial and health records. According to FDA, it did not consider information security risks from intentional threats to medical devices as a realistic possibility until recently.

While data encryption is the best line of defense against these security risks, such encryption requires an increase in mobile power to function consistently against a sophisticated hacker. In many devices currently on the market, limited battery capacity can hinder the security features, making them susceptible to an attack that would drain the battery and render the device inoperable. Performance failures may mean the loss of a patient or the deterioration of their health.

ImageWith so much at stake, it is imperative that medical device manufacturers collaborate with battery pack integrators to create a high quality, reliable battery pack that services both function and security in the most power-saving manner possible. Many of the world’s leading medical OEMs and contract manufacturers partner with Palladium Energy. We have a nearly 40-year track record of providing safe, high-reliability battery packs for healthcare and other mission-critical businesses. Through our independent and accredited test lab, IQ Laboratories, we can design, test, and certify each battery pack to the most stringent of medical industry standards.

- Dennis Pouliot, global account manager

Celebrate Safety this National Battery Day!

Two hundred and sixty eight years ago today, Italian physicist, Alessandro Volta, was born in a small town in Como, Italy.  At the age of 55, Volta invented the first battery, and as a result, today the world celebrates National Battery Day!  Batteries have come a long way since the turn of the 19th century, so on this National Battery Day, lets celebrate the evolution of battery safety, dating all the way back to Mr. Volta himself.

Voltaic Pile, the first batteryVolta’s namesake invention, the voltaic pile, was comprised of pairs of copper and zinc discs piled on top of each other.  The discs were separated by a layer of brine-soaked cloth, which served as the electrolyte.  The battery lasted an hour at best and came with several challenges, such as short circuits caused by electrolyte leakage.  Yes, even back in 1800 electrical engineers were challenged by battery performance and safety!  To solve this performance challenge, the voltaic pile was turned sideways and placed in a box, becoming known as the trough battery.

electroylte leakageFast forward 60 years when French physicist, Gaston Plante revolutionized battery power by inventing a lead-acid battery that passed reverse current through the system, making it the world’s first rechargeable battery.  Yet, the lead-acid battery also suffered from electrolyte leaks, posing safety risks to end-users. It wasn’t until the 1970’s when sealed lead-acid batteries were developed, using a gel electrolyte instead of liquid to prevent leakage.

In 1899, battery chemistry advanced again when nickel-cadmium batteries were introduced, becoming popular in portable power tools, flashlights, etc.  However, safety and environmental risks associated with disposing cadmium caused researchers to develop nickel-hydrogen and nickel metal-hydride batteries.

_DSC5825In the early 1900’s experimentation began on lithium batteries due to lithium’s impressive electrochemical potential and energy-to-weight ratio.  Early models were based on metallic lithium, which offered high energy density but inherent instability issues.  By the late 1980’s a more stable version of the lithium battery, the lithium-ion battery, was developed and first commercialized by Sony in 1991.

Recent high-profile lithium battery safety incidents have underscored the need for our industry to better understand failure modes, develop better characterization tools, and learn from the improvement of energy storage technology safety.  Most importantly, the commercial market must add safety layers into the balancing, failure forecasting, and detection of catastrophic event precursors in order to maximize the operational safety of cells, module and packs.

TestingAt Palladium Energy, we’re proud to be the only custom battery pack manufacturer with an independent, CTIA Authorized testing facility. Located in Shanghai, IQ Laboratories is our mark on battery history – leading the way to safer battery packs with lithium technologies.  We’ve proven that performance testing, environmental testing and R&D can mitigate risks, such as thermal runaway.  In nearly 40 years, we’ve shipped more than half a billion battery packs without a major customer recall or safety issues.

We’re enormously proud of our record and our industry – innovating power solutions to meet next-generation needs!  Happy National Battery Day!

RebeccaKritzman11.11- Rebecca Kritzman, director of marketing and communications

Backup battery systems: A light (life) saver for the Super Bowl?

Last night’s Super Bowl XLVII was filled with memorable moments – from the Sandy Hook Elementary School choral ensemble to the Raven’s impressive first half to Beyonce’s star-studded half-time show.  But unfortunately for the NFL, the Superdome’s 35-minute blackout stole the show.

Super-Bowl-Black-OutIn case you missed it, early in the second half of the gridiron showdown, half of the Superdome’s power went out – leaving the press box without Internet, the dome dark and scoreboards black.  See these eerie photos of the blackout, courtesy of Business Insider.

tweetThis morning, social media (check out #SuperBowlBlackout on Twitter) is buzzing with rumors about why the power failure occurred.  Even the Los Angeles Times asks, “Did Beyonce cause the Super Bowl blackout?”  The truth is that power outages can result from numerous causes – from natural disasters to human error.  In the case of the Superdome, CBS Sport’s Will Brinson tweets that a piece of equipment designed to monitor electrical load malfunctioned, opening a breaker and shutting off some of the power in the building.

battery packWe don’t know the in’s and out’s of the Superdome’s electrical system, but we do help OEMs and contract manufacturers that create mission critical devices and equip power systems that mitigate power outages.  Our electrical engineers will tell you that in blackout situations, the electrical system should automatically switch to a backup battery until the generator can warm-up and kick-in.   Backup batteries are an important component of uninterruptible power supply’s (UPS), and allow for everything from data centers to football arenas to survive blackouts without an interruption in electricity—safely and reliably.

Make sure your organization’s power doesn’t go out in the second half.  Click to learn more about Palladium Energy’s lithium-based battery pack expertise and UPS solutions.

RebeccaKritzman11.11- Rebecca Kritzman, director of marketing & communications

The Battery Packs Powering CES 2013 Trends

This week, Las Vegas is the gadget mecca of the world, as the globe’s biggest consumer electronics brands showcase their next-generation products at CES 2013.  Palladium Energy’s experts are on-hand to check out the lithium technology driving many of this year’s trends.

Smartphones

CES is full of smartphones boasting higher resolutions and screens up to 6.1 inches.  Larger screens and more pixels require powerful lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, and this year battery packs measured up to 4,000 mAh (more from the Las Vegas Review Journal).

CES Samsung Flexible screen 660Moreover, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are challenging battery pack engineers with future designs, like this bendable screen prototype from Samsung, which will require flexible li-ion battery packs.

Televisions

110-inch-Samsung-4K-TVPerhaps the biggest breakthrough of this year’s CES show is the emergence of Ultra High Definition (4K) TV’s, which is powered by the same technology that’s been used in movie theaters for the past few years.  As Eric Savitz from Forbes points out, these TV’s are growing in size with the smallest Samsung 4K TV coming in at 60 inches!

Like the new generation of smartphones, these larger and higher definition TV’s require reliable power supply units (PSUs), which Palladium Energy manufactures in our Brazil facility for some of the largest TV OEMs.

While there currently isn’t any content available to watch on 4K TVs, it’s safe to say we’ll be watching the Super Bowl on these impressive screens in less than 10 years.

ultrabook convertible

PC’s and Tablets

In 2012, ultrabooks stole the show as the emerging PC technology.  This year ultrabooks are touting 13-hour battery life and are taking on a new form as convertible devices that transform into tablets.  Convertible ultrabooks are thin, lightweight and have touchscreen displays that can be turned and flipped to cover the keyboard. The line T15_Silver_15_Hero_with_Hand-e1357442848568between PC’s and tablets becomes even blurrier with touch screen laptops, like this Sony VIAO T15.

Li-ion technology is keeping pace as PC’s and tablets miniaturize and morph into multi-functional devices.  Li-ion battery packs are lighter and can be engineered to fit small devices; moreover, these battery packs have a slow loss of life, enabling PC’s and tablets to meet consumer demand for all-day battery power.

With nearly four decades of experience producing portable battery packs that optimize performance, safety, reliability, time-to-market and cost, Palladium is well positioned to help manufacturers keep pace with the $1 trillion consumer electronics market. If your company needs a custom power solution for its next-generation consumer electronics device, contact us today!  See you all next year at CES 2014!

RebeccaKritzman11.11- Rebecca Kritzman, director of global marketing

Another trophy on our shelf!

Here at Palladium Energy, the good news just keeps coming!  Today, we announced that we’ve received Frost & Sullivan’s prestigious “2012 North American Entrepreneurial Palladium-EnergyCompany of the Year” award in the lithium-ion battery market. Click here to read the press release.

As a leading global research organization with a 50-year history of monitoring and analyzing more than 300 industries, Frost & Sullivan selected Palladium due to our growth strategy and implementation excellence, product and technology innovation, leadership in customer value and speed of response to market needs.  Here’s what Vishal Sapru, research manager and growth consultant, energy and power systems at Frost & Sullivan said:

Unlike low-cost manufacturers that may sacrifice performance or safety to achieve the lowest possible cost, Palladium adds value to a customer’s product by designing battery packs that achieve a perfect balance between specific energy, specific power, safety, life span, and cost.  Our “Entrepreneurial Company of the Year” award is selected using analyst research and a stringent methodology. We’re proud to designate this year’s award to Palladium for delivering excellence and best practices in the lithium-ion battery market.

This is the third international award we’ve received this year, and we couldn’t have achieved this recognition without our talented worldwide team.  See the list below of our diverse, cross-company accolades received in 2012:

  • Frost & Sullivan – North American Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award
  • RS Medical – 2011 Design Partner of the Year Award
  • American Marketing Association – Outstanding Strategy and Results for an Integrated B2B Marketing Campaign to the Smart Grid Market

RebeccaKritzman11.11 – Rebecca Kritzman, director of global marketing