Helping You Stay A Solution Ahead: West Coast Technology Seminar

At Palladium Energy, we’ve been making our way around the United States to deliver thought leadership around battery pack innovation. These events entitled, “Collaboration and Innovation in Building a Battery Powered System,” started in the Northeast in May 2012, and we just completed a West Coast version in San Jose last week. These seminars feature our key supply partners from a cell, chip/fuel gauge and charger perspective.

Our West Coast seminar, attended by the largest data storage, energy storage and smart grid original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) was a big success. We hosted the event in an awesome venue, Club Auto Sport, which houses super-cool automobiles—from an old-school Cadillac El Dorado convertible to the latest Ferrari, Lotus, Porsche and even a battery-powered Tesla! Attendees were not only surrounded by these cool cars, but they enjoyed lunch and a cocktail reception.  Most importantly, attendees learned about the following from battery pack experts:

  1. Dr. Like Xie, vp of technology, Palladium Energy

    Palladium Energy:  Reviewed the latest technology trends for lithium-based cells, as well as design engineering tips and tricks to get the best performance out of your pack.  Discussed agency approvals and certifications through our company’s IQ Laboratories—including an update on Class 9 air freight regulations forthcoming 1/1/13.

  2. Sony: Reviewed the company’s latest cell technology roadmaps including LFP, power cylindrical cells and polymer cells with hybrid gel technology for high safety, longer cycle life, higher energy density, bigger footprint and quicker charge.
  3. Texas Instruments: Reviewed fuel gauge, cell balancing and new wireless power solutions for battery packs.
  4. Energy Access: Ended the seminar with an entertaining presentation about battery pack charging basics—with several scenarios and “how to’s” when charging one of the most volatile metals on the Periodic Table—lithium-ion— as well as design do’s and don’ts.

Representatives from Sony, Texas Instruments and Energy Access

We are planning more Technical Seminars in 2013—including one in the Southeast.  Stay tuned for more details as we look to keep you a solution ahead by delivering the latest and greatest technical information to power your device/application.

–Rebecca Kritzman, director of global marketing

More than a cell: What is a battery?

phone batteryFor end consumers, a battery is an energy storage unit that provides stored power to an electronic device. Of course, a battery is a finite energy source that will require recharging when depleted. After a period of time or due to frequent use, the battery’s ability to store energy will degrade.  When the battery is no longer capable of storing ample energy for the device, it is often times replaced. Subsequently, the battery is considered a support structure of the host device and not of primary importance to the overall functionality of the device.

For a battery pack engineer (like me), a battery is a construction that incorporates multiple tiers of protection circuitry to monitor and maintain a miniature electro-chemical reactor. This miniature electro-chemical reactor is the central focus of the construction, otherwise referred to as the Cell(s). The protection circuitry monitors the operational state of the Cells and will internally disconnect the Cells from the battery terminals when any safety condition occurs. A Cell is manufactured using a particular chemical formula and process. Each Cell will have safety thresholds unique to its manufacture.

Typically, the safety circuits monitor for extremes in temperature, cell voltage and electrical current flowing in/out of the Cell(s). If the Cell is allowed to experience operational conditions that exceed the operational parameters, irreversible damage to the Cell(s) will occur and potential gaseous venting, incendiary ignition, or even explosion become real possibilities.

Fortunately, whenever a safety condition is detected by the protection circuitry, the power path from the Cell(s) to the battery’s +/- terminals is intentionally interrupted to prevent the condition from escalating to dangerous levels. Most safety conditions are triggered by the transference of electrical power either a) into the Cell(s) during charge or b) out of the Cell(s) during discharge. To allow for eventual recovery from each particular safety condition, the protection circuitry will selectively prevent either charging or discharging. Certain safety conditions (such as overheating of the Cell(s) due to environmental heating, or frozen Cell(s) due to environmental cooling) will cause both charging and discharging to become disabled until the safety condition is reduced to operational thresholds. Certain safety conditions pose particular concerning hazards, so redundant circuitry is included to protect the Cell(s) in the event of failures in the primary protection circuitry (for example, discharge over-current from the Cell(s) due to short circuit will require a second level of protection such as a PTC). Here’s a block diagram of the safety circuitry found in a simple single-cell battery:

Battery Cell DesignBattery technology has enabled portability and power redundancy for a wide range of electrical products. A battery is designed for a particular application and must be thoughtfully evaluated before being re-purposed for an alternative application. Such an evaluation must take into account the design safety thresholds designed into the battery, the cell chemistry used in the Cell(s), and the environmental limitations of the various components within the battery. When utilized within operational parameters, batteries are very safe and allow for otherwise impossible technological concepts.

Click here to learn more about Palladium Energy’s design engineering expertise or request a quote today!

Lucas Sturnfield- Lucas Sturnfield, electrical engineer

Back-to-School: Students hitting e-readers, not books

Backpacks are stuffed with new supplies; crossing guards have assumed their posts; and the dorm room aisle at Target is depleted.  That’s right – school is back in session.

Students across the country are heading back to the classroom, but many of these students will be ditching textbooks and picking up e-readers.

According to new research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, e-reader ownership has recently been growing faster than tablets.  In fact, the number of adults in the U.S. who own an e-reader doubled from November 2010 to May 2011.  Currently, 12 percent (or approximately 30 million) of Americans own an e-reader.

With e-reader usage climbing, it’s not surprising that e-reader manufacturers and publishers are marketing to students.  The typical college student spends $900 per year on textbooks.  However, last month Amazon announced that Kindle users now have the option to rent e-textbooks anywhere from 30 to 360 days.  Students can make notes and highlights on the Kindle like in a traditional textbook, which will then be saved, even after the e-text rental expires.  Amazon claims the e-text rental service will save students up to 80 percent off the list price of traditional text books.  Another bookseller giant, Barnes & Noble, is offering students $100 worth of study guides and tools with the purchase of its e-reader, the NOOK.

Some colleges actually encourage students to use e-readers because it reduces paper consumption – saving money and conserving natural resources.  Princeton University recently completed a pilot program – providing three faculty members and 51 students with a Kindle DX.  By using digitized documents versus printed texts, pilot participants printed just over half the amount of paper than control groups who did not use e-readers.

With so many classroom benefits and applications, analysts expect that digital textbooks will comprise 20 percent of the textbook market by 2015.  Powering the demand for these consumer electronic devices are lithium-ion batteries – ensuring e-readers have enough juice to survive the midnight cram session.

Palladium Energy is the most experienced battery pack designer and manufacturer for handheld consumer electronic devices – including those used by scholarly co-eds.  Our technology experts and design engineers pay careful attention to creative lithium-based cell and mechanical design solutions and in-depth integration of battery power source with device circuitry. We know that today’s batteries must make-the-grade in order to survive a semester of freshman intro courses.

-          Rebecca Kritzman, director of marketing