Batteries and Energy Storage Devices

Author:
Kevin Parmenter, Director, Applications Engineering. TSC, America

Date
07/01/2023

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Kevin Parmenter, Director, Applications Engineering. TSC, America

Less than 30 years ago, not much thought was given to battery technology. Today the electrification of transportation market, as well as R&D investment in related technology, is fueling the need for batteries. Plus, the high use of uninterruptable power supplies in healthcare, process control, mission-critical IT/communications systems and oil and gas sectors is propelling their demand. According to a recent report by Grand View Research, the global battery market size, valued at USD 104.31 billion in 2022, is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.8% from 2023 to 2030.

It’s truly incredible that the battery technology we have today is fundamentally the same as the first battery created by Alessandro Volta in 1798. The rechargeable battery was invented in 1859 when French physicist Gaston Plante invented the lead acid cell. Lead acid batteries, although increasingly being replaced by lithium-ion batteries, are still widely used in critical applications due to their high reliability and low cost.

Fast-forward to today. Advancements are not only in battery and super-capacitor chemistries, but in materials for insulators like carbon fiber. Technologies for battery charging also have become very sophisticated. Not long ago, a constant voltage or constant current – maybe just a resistor to limit the current – was used. Now we have microcontroller-centric systems that measure the cells along with environmental parameters. We can adjust cell current and voltage dynamically to increase battery life and even balance the cells during charging or discharging to provide better efficiency for the battery array banks and to ensure the longevity of the battery pack itself. There are of course emerging technologies such as fuel cells, which have actually been around a long time, although we don’t see hydrogen filling stations around. Productization might be a challenge.

In the electronics industry, I am not aware of a topic that has garnered as much attention or support and investment as batteries. Literally, weekly, I read of advancements in battery materials, manufacturing and technologies. There are, at my last count, 58 annual battery conferences and trade shows globally, a number that is back to pre-covid levels.

A growing percentage of the power electronics industry is focused on battery charging and management systems, regardless of power levels – ranging from the microwatts used for IoT to power tools to electric-powered excavators, vehicles, drones and even airplanes. The industry is seeing increasing interest in technologies for battery pack protection, charging and system management plus utilization. The battery/energy storage market is growing at a rate that no one would have imagined even a short time ago. When it comes to batteries, the future is bright indeed.

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