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EV Battery Management System & PCBs: Brains Behind Battery Performance

EV battery management system

The electric vehicle battery management system is a critical component in the successful operation of an electric vehicle. It plays a key role in ensuring the battery's safety, performance, and reliability by monitoring and controlling the charging and discharging process. A battery management system (BMS) malfunction means significant issues for the vehicle, drivers, and passengers. 

Printed circuit boards are an integral part of this system as they house the system's various components, such as sensors and controllers, and provide interconnectivity between them. 

By connecting all these components together, printed circuit boards (PCB) make it easier for the entire system to communicate with one another for optimal performance.

 

What is the Purpose of an Electric Vehicle Battery Management System?

The BMS monitors and maintains each cell of an  EV’s battery pack. It provides real-time feedback on key metrics, including:

  • Voltage 
  • Temperature 
  • Current
  • State-of-charge (SoC) 

The system also helps protect the battery cells from overcharging, discharging too quickly, or starting the thermal runaway process.

The key functions of a BMS include:

  • Balancing individual cell voltages across the battery pack to even out charge distribution. 
  • Monitoring cell temperatures to prevent them from going above or below a certain threshold, which can cause damage. 
  • Limiting peak currents to reduce power draw and maintain safety. 
  • Making sure no single cell is overcharged or discharged too far below capacity. 
  • Optimizing charging parameters for different charging sources (level 1/2/3 AC, DC fast charging). 
  • Automatically shutting down the battery if it detects an unsafe condition (e.g., a battery thermal event or excessive current). 

By accurately monitoring and controlling all aspects of a battery pack’s performance, a BMS can extend its lifespan significantly while ensuring safe and reliable ride EV operation. With advances in technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), future BMS systems will be even more effective at managing batteries for maximum performance over time.

 

EV Battery Sustainability 

As electric vehicles become increasingly more popular, so does the demand for more efficient and reliable sources of energy. The development and implementation of sustainable & safe batteries are critical to ensure that electric vehicles have access to reliable, clean power sources. 

EV battery management systemSustainable batteries are designed to be more efficient and last longer. Additionally, they can be made using renewable materials, allowing them to help reduce emissions associated with transportation. However, concerns remain, including the thermal management of electric vehicle battery systems

As the demand for sustainable battery technology continues to grow, companies are investing heavily in research and development to make newer and more advanced types of batteries available. 

Flexible PCBs and Their Place in the EV Battery Monitoring Process

With the demand for optimized battery management systems and energy control in the EV, higher performance is expected. Flexible PCBs meet this, as they are smaller and can fit in tight spaces.

Flexible PCBs must be: 

The electronics world, in general, increasingly demands more power fit into a smaller case, which is the same for EVs. As a result, flexible PCB design must be adaptable and easily improved as new technological advances are made. Therefore, the search for the right PCB is a constant one. EV battery management system

PCB integration can be tricky. Temperatures can leave the PCB vulnerable: high temperatures mean the potential to warp, while low temperatures mean condensation buildup is possible. Pests and dust can cause significant damage to a stored PCB. 

Errors in manufacturing can also be a significant concern. The failure to insulate two metal traces on a high-voltage board can mean an arc that destroys the entire circuit. Repairing an issue of this level can require a return visit to the factory where it was manufactured - creating a risk of downtime for your production line. 



How PCBs Meet the Successes and Challenges of the EV Adoption

Society’s focus on sustainability and efforts to move away from fossil fuels puts pressure on the EV industry. That is nothing, however, compared to the various challenges that have plagued the industry to this point. 

Six of the main barriers to adoption the EV industry still faces include: 

  1. Cell equalization
  2. Cell degradation 
  3. Aging
  4. Data storage
  5. Capacity
  6. Safety

 

Cell Equalization

Cell equalization helps to operate at maximum efficiency. It involves charging and discharging each cell in a battery pack separately so that all cells are balanced in terms of charge level and overall voltage. Cell equalization enables a longer lifespan for batteries by reducing the amount of energy lost due to unbalanced cells. It also decreases the likelihood of reduced range or slower charging times.

Thanks to advancements in technology related to the BMS and improved algorithms for balancing cells, electric vehicle owners see 

  • Increased range
  • Faster charge times
  • Decreased maintenance costs

This success has made it possible for automakers to offer increasingly competitive models with bigger batteries than ever before. 

Despite these successes, there are still challenges related to cell equalization which need to be addressed. One issue, however, is cost – BMS systems are expensive components, and integrating them into vehicles can pose a significant financial challenge for automakers. 

Additionally, not all battery technologies currently support efficient cell equalization techniques; this means that some EVs may be unable to fully benefit from these improvements in technology. A new battery management system testing method must be implemented regularly to help identify and adjust for EVs that do not support the technology. 

Finally, while improved algorithms are making cell equalization more efficient than ever before, they also require extremely precise measurements, which can be difficult to achieve across different vehicles and manufacturers consistently. 

Have questions about our design and assembly? Consider downloading this resource: 

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Cell Degradation 

Cell degradation occurs over time as a battery is used, and its capacity gradually decreases.   

Cell degradation can be caused by high temperatures, high currents, deep discharges, or frequent recharging cycles. As cell degradation increases due to these factors, so does the amount of time required for a full charge. This decreases the range of an electric vehicle’s battery over time. One way to minimize cell degradation is to avoid exposing your battery to high temperatures and excessive current draw for extended periods of time

 

Aging

Aging is the natural loss of energy storage capacity that occurs as lithium ions move from the cathode to the anode materials during charging and discharging cycles. 

Aging can be countered by using a battery management system (BMS). The BMS monitors and identifies cells that reach end-of-life prematurely, thus enabling replacement on a more efficient timeline. The PCB allows the BMS to do so by providing the technology to optimize performance and extend battery range. 

 

Data storage

When it comes to data storage, one of the biggest successes has been the development of lithium-ion battery technology capable of storing large amounts of energy. This technology has allowed for a longer range and improved performance out of electric vehicles as compared to other types of vehicles. 

However, there are still some challenges that the electric vehicle industry faces regarding data storage, including: 

  • The cost associated with storing large amounts of data 
  • Security concerns related to the storage and access of this data due to its sensitive nature.
  • Connecting multiple systems together to coordinate different charging needs can add complexity and requires careful management to ensure efficient operation. 

While the electric vehicle industry has made great strides in improving data storage solutions, much work still needs to be done to make them more effective and cost-efficient. As technology continues to advance at a rapid rate, these issues will likely continue to be worked on until better solutions are available for all types of customers.

 

Capacity

The electric vehicle industry has seen notable successes in terms of managing battery capacity. However, the limited battery life of some electric vehicles can make it difficult for customers to make long journeys without having to periodically stop and recharge. 

New charging methods, such as battery swapping systems, have been developed to allow customers to quickly charge their cars without needing to wait for a full recharge. Despite this progress, coordinating different charging needs across multiple systems can be tricky and require careful management in order to ensure smooth operation.

Safety

The electric vehicle industry has made significant progress in recent years and has seen widespread adoption around the world. However, with increased production and use of electric vehicles, there have been certain challenges to safety that have emerged. Here are some of the successes and challenges that the electric vehicle industry has faced and is currently facing in regard to safety:

Successes:

  • Electric vehicles typically have a lower center of gravity compared to traditional vehicles, allowing for improved handling and stability.
  • Advanced features, such as collision avoidance and lane-departure warning systems, have practically become standard in electric vehicles, improving overall safety for drivers and passengers.
  • According to recent studies, electric vehicles are actually safer than traditional vehicles in certain situations, such as in the event of a frontal collision.  In traditional gasoline-powered cars, a head-on collision can cause the engine and fuel tank to ignite, leading to potentially dangerous fire hazards. In an electric vehicle, there is no combustion engine or fuel tank that could potentially ignite and cause a fire. Additionally, electric vehicles tend to have more robust crumple zones, which absorb more impact energy in the case of a frontal collision, thus protecting passengers from serious injury. All of these factors make electric vehicles much safer than their gasoline-powered counterparts when it comes to frontal collisions.

Challenges:

  • The high-voltage batteries used in electric vehicles present unique safety risks, including the risk of electrocution and battery fires.
  • The lack of sound produced by electric vehicles can lead to a higher risk of pedestrian and cyclist accidents.
  • Most emergency responders do not have the appropriate training or safety equipment to handle electric vehicle emergencies.

 

How the EV Battery Management System Will Fare

An EV battery management system has changed and improved as issues with the EV have been identified and addressed. However, the BMS for electric vehicles will need to continue to adapt and improve as the demand for electric vehicles increases. Likewise, the PCB manufacturing industry will need to pivot to help improve controls and monitoring systems. 

 

PCB Manufacturers Focus on Improvement

Need help addressing an issue in your PCB manufacturing process? Consider this resource on PCB testing: 

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