Reliable Energy Storage and Power Conversion Efficiency

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD



It’s a happy coincidence that next month focuses on Electric & Hybrid Vehicles, because July’s slate of contributors went hard on the automotive front for our “Batteries & Other Storage Devices” focus.

And it’s not hard to see why – despite the global semiconductor shortage (and its disproportionate impact on the auto industry), cars continue to be a fundamental cornerstone of the world’s economy. In the U.S., alone, sales from auto and auto part stores made up 20% of the retail, and in 2020, the auto industry added 3% to the U.S. gross domestic product.

Moreover, electric vehicles are growing in importance – global regulations and organic technological innovation are pushing EVs to the forefront, and by 2027, Allied Market Research projects the global electric vehicle market to reach $802 billion.

That’s a lot of batteries, and it’s no coincidence that the rise in EVs is inextricably linked to the incalculable importance of energy storage devices and power conversion.

And speaking of which, UnitedSiC makes a convincing case for why “Wide Band-gap Semiconductor Technology Increases Power Conversion Efficiency.

Frequent contributor Anup Bhalla notes that, for EVs, its very viability depends on the efficiency of the traction inverter and charging circuitry. “Every percentage point improved is part of a virtuous circle of less heatsinking required, lower weight and longer range at lower cost,” he says.

In a similar vein, Mark Patrick from Mouser Electronics discusses how regenerative braking can extend the range of EVs, thereby helping to solve the ubiquitous “range anxiety” (which or may not be a real thing).

In his cheekily titled “It’s All Downhill From Here,” Mark rhetorically asks “Electric motors also make great generators, so why not use the momentum of your vehicle to top up your battery?

This past weekend, a friend of mine who purchased an EV from a company that rhymes with “Fesla” gave me a first-hand lowdown on regenerative braking, and as Mark mentions, “When an electric vehicle coasts, the motor switches from being a net consumer of energy to a net producer - what manufacturers refer to as regenerative braking, although you may not be using the brakes at all.”

You’ve experienced the same phenomenon with golf carts – when you take your foot off the accelerator, it comes to a rapid stop instead of coasting (the difference being that golf carts don’t usually harness the extra energy produced).

The final article I’d like to call out is especially relevant to those of us handling our own landscaping work – big or small – and for pretty much anyone using a portable device.

It’s safe to way we all know the critical importance of lithium-ion batteries, but just how vital they are cannot be overstated.

For cordless power tools, lithium-ion batteries are small and lightweight, and they can run longer at their top power output. But as Travis Moench with Rohm Semiconductor USA points out, “to maximize the power output and operational life of these batteries, they must be monitored and managed.”

Travis covers that and more in “Battery Management for Li-ion based Power Tools.”

Enjoy the July issue!

Best Regards, 

Jason Lomberg

North American Editor, PSD