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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Battery System Having Battery Contactors and a Diagnostic Device for Monitoring the Functional State of the...

February 19, 2014



Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Battery System Having Battery Contactors and a Diagnostic Device for Monitoring the Functional State of the Contactors and Associated Diagnostic Method", for Ap

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor Tzivanopoulos, Chrysanthos (Kornwestheim, DE), filed on July 25, 2013, was made available online on February 6, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Samsung SDI Co., Ltd.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present disclosure relates to a battery system which has a battery which comprises a plurality of battery cells and which can be connected on the input side to a direct voltage intermediate circuit via at least one contactor, and a diagnostic device for diagnosing the state of the at least one contactor. In addition, the disclosure relates to an associated method for diagnosing the state of battery contactors.

"It has become apparent that in future new battery systems of which very stringent demands are made in terms of reliability will be increasingly used both in stationary applications, such as, for example, in wind power plants, and in motor vehicles, such as, for example, in hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles. The background to these stringent demands is that failure of the battery of a battery system which is used can lead to a safety-related problem. The basic circuit diagram of such a battery system 10 is illustrated in FIG. 1. In order to achieve the required performance and energy data by means of the battery system 10, individual battery cells 21 are connected in series and partially additionally in parallel in the battery (battery pack) 20 of the battery system 10. In order to simplify the illustration, only a single battery cell with a reference symbol 21 has been provided in FIG. 1. A problem of the approach shown in FIG. 1, in which a large number of battery cells 21 are connected in series, is the high output voltage UB of a battery (high voltage battery) 20 which occurs with this series connection, which output voltage UB is continuously present at the on-board power system (high-voltage on-board power system) 40 of a motor vehicle unless suitable measures are used. The voltage, referred to as the 'link voltage', which is present at the on-board power system 40 has been denoted by UBN in FIG. 1. In the battery system 10 illustrated in FIG. 1, the battery 20 is connected to the on-board power system 40 of the motor vehicle by means of the capacitor 30 of a direct voltage intermediate circuit.

"Because of the high voltage UBN, which is continuously present at the on-board power system 40 of the motor vehicle unless suitable measures are used, as a rule contactors 50, 60 are used which, when necessary, disconnect the battery 20 from the on-board power system 40. For safety reasons, a separate contactor 50, 60 should be respectively present both at the positive pole of the battery 20 and at the negative pole, which contactors 50, 60 are designed for a high battery voltage UB and are, under certain circumstances, also capable of disconnecting a short circuit current of over 1000 A. The contactor 50 is connected at its pole 51 to the battery 20, and at its pole 52 to the on-board power system 40. The contactor 60 is connected at its pole 61 to the battery 20, and at its pole 62 to the on-board power system 40.

"So that the disconnection of the battery 20 with its high battery voltage UB from the on-board power system 40 is ensured, one of the previously described safety requirements involves checking the function of the contactors 50, 60 and reliably diagnosing a malfunction. Therefore, a particularly hazardous malfunction of the contactors 50, 60 which has to be diagnosed is, for example, if the contactors 50, 60 or the contactor contacts thereof stick during correct actuation and have not opened as actuated. The contactors 50, 60 may also have been destroyed to such an extent that they have not closed as actuated. For the implementation of diagnostic functions it is necessary to use suitable devices and algorithms.

"According to the present prior art, topologies are known for implementing anti-sticking diagnostic functions which are embodied as a circuit device for implementing voltage measurements at the four contact poles of the two contactors and which are respectively arranged at the positive or the negative battery pole, between the corresponding battery pole and the on-board power system. Such circuit topologies are known, for example, from document EP 2 308 714 A2. The known circuit topologies may also include reference voltages which are connected when there are certain diagnostic configurations. In the case of open contactors, the potential differences between the four poles of the two contactors are evaluated. These potential differences are predefined, to a certain extent, by means of defined impedances or resistance dividers/voltage dividers.

"The methods which are known from the prior art for diagnosing a sticking state of contactors which use considerations of voltage differences as a function of the switched states have the disadvantage that they are very sensitive to voltage cross-couplings between the pole potentials. In addition, these methods are very sensitive to changes in impedance between the battery poles and the on-board power system poles. Furthermore, a complete diagnosis requires a switching frequency to be implemented with simultaneous evaluation of voltage differences. Such a sequence is run through as a rule either at the start or at the end of a driving cycle. Since switching times have to be complied with for this purpose and transient recovery processes play a role, starting delays often occur, depending on the method, specifically until the diagnosis is completed.

"Furthermore, document DE 10 2004 041 998 A1 discloses a method for predicting the operational capability of a relay or of a contactor in which a current which flows through the relay or the contactor is measured repeatedly. In the same method, a current temperature of the relay of the contactor is estimated by means of the measured current values and on the basis of known current temperature characteristic curves of the relay or of the contactor. A prediction about the operational capability, in particular about a sticking state, of the relay or of the contactor is then made by means of the estimated temperature."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "According to the disclosure, a battery system is made available which has a battery which comprises a plurality of battery cells and which can be connected on the input side to a direct voltage intermediate circuit via at least one contactor. In addition, the battery system has a diagnostic device for diagnosing the state of the at least one contactor. In addition, a monitoring circuit, which comprises a first branch in which the at least one contactor is arranged and a second branch which is connected parallel thereto and in which a voltage source for generating a reference voltage is connected, is arranged in the battery system. The diagnostic device is arranged so as to evaluate a diagnostic current which is dependent on the reference voltage and flows in the monitoring circuit, and so as to determine the functional state, in particular a fault state, of the at least one contactor by means of a measured current value or current profile of the diagnostic current.

"According to the method according to the disclosure for diagnosing the state of battery contactors of a battery, a state diagnosis of at least one of the contactors is carried out by means of a monitoring circuit which has a first branch in which the at least one contactor is arranged, and a second branch which is parallel thereto and in which a voltage source for generating a reference voltage is connected. According to the method, a diagnostic current which is dependent on the reference voltage and which flows in the monitoring circuit is evaluated.

"In concrete terms, a battery system having a specific additional monitoring circuit and a diagnostic device is disclosed, wherein the diagnostic device is designed to diagnose a fault state of the contactor. To be more precise, the battery system and the diagnostic device are designed to respectively measure a diagnostic current, flowing through the connected, second branch of the monitoring circuit, for the contactor in a first state, assumed to be an opened switched state, and in a second state, assumed to be a closed switched state, and to be able to diagnose a malfunction of the contactor, in particular a sticking state of the contactor, by means of the measured diagnostic current.

"As a result, according to the disclosure, a switching topology is made available which is optimized in terms of costs and resources and which permits a particularly robust diagnosis of a contactor which is used in the open or closed state. The switching topology according to the disclosure makes it possible to implement continuous monitoring of the state of the contactors and contactor contacts used in the closed state and rapid checking in the opened state, which monitoring and checking cause only a very short starting delay since only one switching and measuring process per contactor is respectively required.

"In particular, the battery system according to the disclosure can comprise two contactors which are each arranged on the battery pole and are each positioned in an additional monitoring circuit, and the diagnostic device is designed to respectively measure the diagnostic currents which flow through the second connected branches of the two monitoring circuits, while the two contactors are each in the second state, assumed to be a closed switched state, and to respectively diagnose a possible malfunction of the contactors by means of the measured diagnostic currents.

"If both contactors are operationally capable and are in the closed switched state, a diagnostic current which is defined by the structure of the corresponding monitoring circuit must flow in each monitoring circuit. The functional state of the respective contactor can be inferred by means of the measured values of the diagnostic currents. If the expected diagnostic currents are measured in both monitoring circuits, it is possible to assume that both contactors have closed satisfactorily. If a different diagnostic current is measured in at least one monitoring circuit, a fault state of the corresponding contactor in which this contactor has not closed can be diagnosed by evaluating the measured diagnostic currents.

"The battery system according to the disclosure can comprise two contactors which are each arranged on a battery pole and are each positioned in an additional monitoring circuit, and the diagnostic device is designed to measure the diagnostic current which flows through the connected second branch of the monitoring circuit of at least one contactor in the first state, assumed to be an opened switched state, while the monitoring circuit of the other contactor is in the second state, assumed to be a closed switched state, and to diagnose a possible sticking state of the corresponding contactor by means of the measured diagnostic current.

"The diagnostic device is preferably designed to carry out the measurement of the diagnostic current through the second connected branch of the monitoring circuit of a contactor in the first state, assumed to be an opened switched state, directly after both monitoring circuits were in the second state, assumed to be the closed switched state.

"In other words, one of the two contactors is opened after both connectors were closed. The diagnostic current which flows through the second, connected branch of the monitoring circuit of the opened contactor is measured here and evaluated. If the corresponding contactor has opened satisfactorily, the corresponding diagnostic current is reduced, in particular is reduced to zero, that is to say is disconnected. If this contactor contact sticks, the contactor remains closed even after the opening process and the corresponding diagnostic current approximates to the expected diagnostic current in the closed state of the contactor.

"According to the disclosure, a sticking state which is occurring at the examined contactor can easily be diagnosed by means of the measured diagnostic current. This measurement can be carried out for each of the two contactors.

"In particular, the battery system according to the disclosure comprises, according to one embodiment of the disclosure, two contactors which are each arranged on a battery pole and are each placed in an additional monitoring circuit, and the diagnostic device is designed to measure the diagnostic current which flows through the connected, second branch of the monitoring circuit of at least one contactor in the first state, assumed to be an opened switched state, while the other contactor is also in the first state, assumed to be an opened switched state, and the second branch of the monitoring circuit of the other contactor is disconnected from the first branch of the monitoring circuit of the other contactor. In addition, the diagnostic device is designed to diagnose a possible sticking state of the corresponding contactor by means of the measured diagnostic current.

"In other words, one of the contactors is opened and the second branch of the monitoring circuit of this contactor is disconnected, while the other contactor is opened and the second branch of the monitoring circuit of this other contactor is connected. In this context, the diagnostic current which flows through the second connected branch of the corresponding monitoring circuit is measured. If no diagnostic current is detected flowing through the second connected branch of the corresponding monitoring circuit, it can be assumed that both contactors have opened satisfactorily. If the contactor contact for which the diagnostic current is measured sticks, this contactor remains closed even after the opening process and the corresponding diagnostic current approximates to the expected diagnostic current in the closed state of the contactor. The sticking state of the examined contactor can be diagnosed by means of this measured diagnostic current. This measurement can be carried out for each of the two contactors.

"In particular, in the second branch of at least one monitoring circuit of the battery system according to the disclosure a shunt resistor is connected in series with the additional voltage source of the monitoring circuit. In addition, in this context the diagnostic device is designed to measure the voltage which is present at the shunt resistor and to use it to determine a corresponding diagnostic current flowing through the shunt resistor.

"According to the disclosure, the diagnostic currents can therefore be determined by means of a simple evaluation of the voltages present at the corresponding shunt resistors.

"At least one monitoring circuit of the battery system according to the disclosure preferably comprises a potential-separated voltage source which can be embodied as a winding of a flyback converter.

"By using a potential-separated voltage source for at least one monitoring circuit, the probability of the occurrence of voltage cross-couplings between pole potentials, which would have a considerable adverse effect on the diagnosis of a possible false state of the contactors used, is drastically reduced in a very easy way with the circuit technology according to the disclosure.

"According to one preferred embodiment of the disclosure, the voltage source is connected in an orientation which is opposed to the orientation of the battery voltage. In another embodiment, the voltage source is connected with the same orientation as the battery.

"In addition, the second branch of the monitoring circuit can have a plurality of reference resistors and/or a diode, which are arranged in a series circuit with the voltage source. In this context, the diode is preferably poled in series with the battery cells with respect to its direction of flow.

"A second inventive branch of a monitoring circuit is preferably designed such that it can be deactivated, in particular by means of a switch arranged in the second branch.

"In one very preferred embodiment of the battery system according to the disclosure, the diagnostic device comprises at least one analog/digital converter and an evaluation unit for evaluating digital signals which can be embodied, in particular, as microcontrollers, wherein the analog/digital converter is designed to convert a detected diagnostic current or a voltage which is present and detected at the shunt resistor into a digital signal and to transfer the digital signal, in particular to transfer it with separated potentials, to the evaluation unit. In this context, the microcontroller can be embodied within the electronics of the battery management system.

"Since the analog/digital converter is designed to transfer the digital signal of the evaluation unit with separated potentials, with the circuit topology according to the disclosure the probability of the occurrence of destructive voltage cross-couplings between pole potentials is easily minimized.

"According to one preferred development of the method according to the disclosure, a closed state of a contactor is diagnosed if the measured diagnostic current corresponds to a predefined reference resistor arranged of the reference voltage and in the monitoring circuit, in particular in the second branch of the monitoring circuit, wherein opening of the contactor is diagnosed if a reduction occurs in the measured diagnostic current, in particular a reduction to the value zero.

"This development according to the method can be carried out with the battery system according to the disclosure, in which the reference voltage source has opposed poling to that of the battery. On the other hand, if the reference voltage source is poled with the battery, the method can also be carried out in such a way that an initially increasing current indicates opening of the contactor.

"Furthermore, according to the method a satisfactory open state of a contactor can be diagnosed if, in response to a connection of the second branch, which is performed, for example, by a switch arranged in the second branch, it is not possible to measure any diagnostic current which differs from zero. In this context, a malfunction, in particular sticking of the contactor, can be diagnosed if a diagnostic current which differs from the current value zero is measured in response to the connection of the second branch.

"This embodiment of the method is preferably carried out in such a way that when the second branch is connected the other second branch, which is associated with another contactor, remains open, that is to say disconnected.

"The battery which forms part of the battery system according to the disclosure is preferably a lithium ion battery.

"Yet a further aspect of the disclosure relates to a motor vehicle having the battery system according to the disclosure. The use of the battery system according to the disclosure in a motor vehicle, in particular for supplying the on-board power system of the motor vehicle, considerably improves the driving safety of such a motor vehicle.

"Advantageous developments of the disclosure are specified in the dependent claims and described in the description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"Exemplary embodiments of the disclosure are explained in more detail by means of the drawings and the following description. In the drawings:

"FIG. 1 shows a battery system which is known from the prior art and has a battery with a plurality of battery cells, wherein a contactor is arranged at each of the battery poles,

"FIG. 2 shows a battery system according to a first embodiment of the disclosure with a battery with a plurality of battery cells, wherein a contactor which is positioned in a separate monitoring circuit is arranged at each of the battery poles,

"FIG. 3 shows a battery system according to the first embodiment of the disclosure together with the current flows at the monitoring circuits with the contactors at the battery poles closed,

"FIG. 4 shows the battery system according to the first embodiment of the disclosure together with the current flows at the monitoring circuits with the contactor at the positive battery line pole opened and the contactor at the negative battery pole closed,

"FIG. 5 shows the battery system according to the first embodiment of the disclosure, in which the monitoring circuits with opened contactors on the two battery poles for checking non-sticking of the contactor at the negative battery pole are illustrated, and

"FIG. 6 shows the battery system according to the first embodiment of the disclosure together with the current flows at the monitoring circuits from FIG. 5 for a case in which the contactor at the negative battery pole is sticking."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Tzivanopoulos, Chrysanthos. Battery System Having Battery Contactors and a Diagnostic Device for Monitoring the Functional State of the Contactors and Associated Diagnostic Method. Filed July 25, 2013 and posted February 6, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=5066&p=102&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140130.PD.&OS=PD/20140130&RS=PD/20140130

Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, High Voltage, Samsung SDI Co. Ltd.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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