A battery management system (BMS) is an electronic system that manages a rechargeable battery pack. Its main functions are:
- Monitoring battery status – voltage, current, temperature, state of health and state of charge
- Protecting the battery from operating outside its safe operating area
- Balancing cells in a battery pack to maintain even wear
- Reporting information for accurate state of charge and warning of faults
- Controlling contactors and relays to connect/disconnect the battery
- Communicating battery information to other systems
The BMS is a crucial component of any battery pack, ensuring safe and reliable operation of lithium-ion and other battery chemistries. A well-designed BMS maximizes battery capacity and lifespan while ensuring safety, ” The PCB Board is the soul of BMS System ” Said by RayMing PCB, Who is one of the best BMS Board manufacturer.
Why is a BMS important?
A BMS is essential for several reasons:
The BMS monitors individual cell voltages and temperatures to prevent operation outside safe limits. Going above the maximum voltage can be dangerous. At too low a voltage, cells are damaged. Over temperature further accelerates aging. The BMS protects the battery pack by disconnecting it if any parameters go out of limits.
Small differences in manufacturing and chemical composition mean the capacities of cells in a pack are not identical. On charging, cells fill up at slightly different rates. Without balancing, some cells will be overcharged while others remain undercharged. Active balancing equalizes all cells by shuffling energy between them.
Accurate State of Charge
The BMS integrates current to calculate coulomb count and estimate state of charge. This prevents over-charging or excessive discharging that shortens battery life. The state of charge value helps optimize use of available energy.
The BMS logs operating data like charge/discharge currents, cell voltages and temperatures during the battery lifetime. This data helps engineers analyze battery operation and performance.
The BMS monitors cell temperatures and activates cooling if required. This avoids cell damage and thermal runaway caused by overheating.
Proper thermal design is a must for lithium battery safety. The BMS calculates heat generation from currents and gives feedback to control the cooling system.
The BMS communicates vital battery information like state of charge, health, warnings and faults to the charging system, inverter and other equipment.
The BMS operates contactors to connect or disconnect the battery from the load or charging system when commanded or in response to faults. The precharge system ensures that contactors close with low arcing for reliability.
Battery Management System Design
Designing an effective BMS requires careful consideration of the following aspects:
Basic functionality required
- Cell monitoring – voltage, current and temperature
- State of charge and health estimation algorithms
- Active balancing between cells
- Safety limits and disconnect on faults
- Temperature range
- Vibration, shock loading
- Ingress protection against water, dust etc.
- CAN, RS485, isolated digital
- Protocols – custom, CANopen etc.
Mechanical design and cooling
- Enclosures, mounting brackets
- Connectors, wiring harnesses, fusing
- Cooling system requirements
Cost, size and processing power
- Component choices – microcontrollers, memory, interfaces
- PCB design – layers, component placement
- Firmware efficiency
We will go through these aspects in more detail in the following sections.
Cell Monitoring Hardware
At its core, the BMS needs hardware to measure voltage, current and temperature on every cell. Additional analog inputs may monitor pack voltage and temperatures at different points.
Cell voltage measurement requires high accuracy to detect small variations between cells. The circuit should draw very little current so it does not disturb the cell’s natural voltage.
Common choices for voltage measurement ICs are:
- Purpose designed cell monitoring chips like the TI BQ76952
- High resolution ADCs with multiplexed inputs – Analog Devices LTC6811
- Delta-sigma ADCs with PGA gain – Maxim MAX11068
Multiple cell monitoring ICs can be stacked in series to monitor a large number of cells. High input impedance ensures minimal current draw. Filtering rejects noise while sampling to avoid false tripping.
Cell voltage measurement ICs communicate digitized data to the BMS microcontroller on a serial bus like SPI.
Current sensors provide data for coulomb counting and cell balancing algorithms. Different approaches are:
- Hall effect sensors detect magnetic field produced by current. Provide electrical isolation. Available for high currents up to 1000A.
- Shunt resistors use Ohm’s law voltage drop to calculate current. Low cost but need isolation amplifier. Limited current range.
- Current sense amplifiers like INA138 detect small voltages across shunt. Usually 0-200 mV inputs.
High frequency sampling by an ADC input eliminates noise in current signals. Careful filtering removes harmonics from inverter operation.
Ideally each cell has a dedicated current sensor for the most accurate balancing. A single current sensor is cheaper but cell to cell differences remain undetected.
Thermistors attached to cells give accurate temperature readings, crucial for safety. Thermistor interfacing requires ratiometric measurements with good ADC linearity. Budget solutions may use simple comparators with over temperature thresholds. High end systems implement RTD sensors with isolated measurements.
Battery Management System Electronics
The BMS electronics can be divided into:
- Measurement circuitry – ICs monitoring cell voltages, current sensors, thermistors etc. as covered earlier. Provides analog voltage and current signals to the BMS controller.
- Microcontroller – Runs state estimation algorithms using measurement data. Implements safety checks, balancing and interface protocols. ARM Cortex M4 designs balance performance and cost.
- Cell balancing – Switches like FETs controlled by GPIOs shunt current around cells under program control. This equalizes all cells in a pack. Passive balancing uses resistors while active balancing is more efficient.
- Power supplies – Low noise supplies for analog systems. Step down DC-DCs for MCU and peripheral power. LDOs for ADC references. Backup battery for clock and RAM retention.
- Contactors – Connect/disconnect battery under fault conditions or on command. Controlled by GPIOs with diagnostics feedback. Precharge protects from inrush current.
- Interfaces – Communication interfaces like CAN, RS485 provide data on SOC, health, warnings and faults. May drive warning LEDs.
- Protection – Fuses, TVS diodes, filtering prevents damage from over voltage and high current faults.
The layout interconnecting these subcircuits requires care for signal integrity. Separate analog and digital grounds are tied at a single point. Decoupling capacitors aid power supply stability. Balanced tracing avoids ground loops. Safety standards require reinforcement and testing.
Advanced firmware algorithms are key to optimal BMS performance and maximizing battery capacity. Major functions implemented in firmware are:
State of Charge Estimation
The BMS tracks state of charge based on cumulative current integration:
SOC(t) = SOC(t-1) – I(t) * dt / Q
The initial SOC is obtained from cell voltage at rest. The coulomb counting equation is periodically corrected using open circuit voltage mapping to SOC. Additional compensation factors account for aging and efficiency losses.
State of Health Monitoring
The state of health indicates the battery’s remaining useful life. It is derived by comparing present capacity to original specifications. Self discharge curves, internal resistance and age also factor into SOH calculations.
Active balancing shuffles charge between cells to equalize SOC. The BMS switches current through control FETs to bypass cells above average voltage. Periodic balancing prevents divergence over repeated cycles. Passive balancing bleeds excess charge through resistors which is inefficient.
Internal cell temperatures are estimated using electrical models driven by current and voltage data. The thermal control loop activates cooling based on temperature thresholds to prevent overheating.
Continuous safety checks for cell voltage, current and temperature trigger protection modes when thresholds are exceeded. This prevents damage from abuse conditions.
The BMS firmware implements many other features like diagnostics data logs, interface protocols, status indicators and production batch analysis. Most functionality is integrated into the BMS controller. For very large battery systems a separate master BMS aggregates data over multiple slave controllers.
The BMS electronics are packaged into an enclosure that provides:
- Mounting – Wall mounts, trays, DIN rail brackets
- Connectors – High current terminals, multi-pin plugs for control
- Ingress protection – Sealed enclosures prevent water/dust ingress
- Heatsinking – Thermal design prevents overheating of components
- Isolation – Reinforced insulation between high voltage and logic
- Modularity – Separates measurement, control and power circuitry
Space optimization fits multiple PCBs efficiently in 3D. Modular construction allows field servicing of individual boards. Rugged aluminum enclosures withstand harsh environments.
Safety standards impose construction requirements like minimum creepage distances, gaskets, cable strain relief, reinforced insulation etc. that must be incorporated into the mechanical design.
Some key considerations when designing a BMS are:
- Number of cells – Allows scaling the monitoring electronics. Match ICs to pack voltage and cell count.
- Accuracy – ADC resolution, noise, calibration limits voltage and current error. Influences balancing quality.
- Environment – Temperature, shock, vibration specs affect component selection and enclosure.
- Communication interfaces – Protocols like CAN or RS485. Data rates and electricals.
- Balancing speed – Faster active balancing needs larger bypass FETs and PCB traces.
- Diagnostics – Storage for lifetime operating data helps analyze failures.
- Processing power – Faster microcontroller and algorithms improve performance.
- Cost optimization – Balancing components, interfaces and features affect BOM cost.
- Safety certification – Standards like UL, IEC impose construction rules. Consider during design.
- Testing – Validate performance across operating conditions with395 battery load simulator and software unit tests.
Thorough requirements analysis and prototyping ensures the BMS meets its functional, performance and safety goals over the product lifetime.
5 Frequently Asked Questions about Battery Management SystemsQ1. How does a BMS protect lithium batteries?
A BMS protects lithium batteries through multiple safeguards:
- Monitors cell voltage to prevent over-charge or deep discharge
- Prevents operation at extreme temperatures
- Balances cells to avoid imbalance between weak and strong cells
- Disconnects the pack on detection of faults like short circuit or over current.
These protections maximize battery life and prevent failures like thermal runaway.
Q2. How does a BMS estimate state of charge?
The BMS estimates state of charge by:
- Coulomb counting – integrating current over time
- Comparing open circuit voltage to SOC correlation graphs
- Learning capacity as the battery ages
- Temperature compensation of capacity
Advanced estimation algorithms accurately determine state of charge.
Q3. What communication protocols are used in a BMS?
Common protocols used by BMS for communication are:
- CAN bus – Robust, noise immune up to 1Mbps. Used in automotive and industrial applications.
- RS485 – Long cable runs up to 1200m. Multi-drop.
- Isolated digital – For safety in high voltage systems.
- Analog 4-20mA – Long distance, immune to noise.
Protocols like CANopen and Modbus on RS485 provide interoperability between different vendors.
Q4. How are cells balanced in a BMS?
A BMS balances cells using either passive or active balancing:
- Passive balancing bleeds small currents through resistors connected across cells
- Active balancing uses switches to shuttle current between cells, faster but needs control
Active balancing is more power efficient. The BMS monitors cell voltages and bypasses weaker cells until all are equal.
Q5. How can I add a BMS to a battery pack?
To add a BMS to a battery pack:
- Select a suitable BMS for pack voltage, chemistry and number of cells
- Connect cell taps from pack to BMS monitoring inputs
- Interface BMS to charging/inverter systems using CAN or isolated digital
- Ensure the BMS is compatible with cooling system controls
- Program safety limits, charge thresholds and balancing parameters
- Enclose BMS safely, clear of high voltage connections
Proper installation and configuration is key to gaining benefits of the BMS.
In summary, a well designed battery management maximizes the safe utilization of energy stored in lithium batteries:
- Accurate monitoring of cell voltage, current and temperature
- Protection against abuse conditions like over-voltage, over-temperature etc.
- Estimating state of charge and state of health by advanced algorithms
- Active cell balancing for maximum capacity
- Control of contactors and cooling systems
- Data logging for diagnostics and preventive maintenance
- Communications with other systems for charge control and safety
Careful electrical, firmware, mechanical and thermal design of the BMS ensures long, safe and efficient operation of lithium battery packs across a wide range of demanding applications like electric vehicles, energy storage and more.
Thoughtful selection of components, rigorous testing and field data over product lifetimes also contributes to reliable and cost optimized battery management solutions. With rising adoption of lithium batteries, a good BMS is an essential component of any pack.