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fully edited. Content may change prior to final publication. Citation information: DOI 10.1109/TPEL.2016.2517150, IEEE
Transactions on Power Electronics

A Module-Integrated Distributed Battery Energy

Storage and Management System
Ye Li, Student Member, IEEE, and Yehui Han, Member, IEEE

AbstractThis paper introduces a module-integrated Many equalization techniques have been investigated based
distributed battery energy storage and management system on the connection type of the equalizers, such as series,
without the need for additional battery equalizers and centralized parallel, or series-parallel structures. Among different
converter interface. This is achieved by integrating power connection types, equalization is categorized as passive
electronics onto battery cells as an integrated module. Compared
methods and active methods in terms of energy dissipation.
with the conventional centralized battery system, the modular
design brings several advantages such as reduced power rating Passive equalizations like [5]-[6] have a critical drawback of
and voltage stress of power electronics, no extra equalizers or energy wastage in advanced high-performance battery
centralized converters, active thermal distribution control ability, systems. The dissipated heat also harms the battery pack in
enhanced safety and reliability, etc. The battery system can now terms of thermal safety. Instead of wasting energy, active
be built by simply attaching integrated modules together. The series structures [7]-[11] may work well when the number of
integrated module is implemented by a synchronous bidirectional cells is small, but the equalization becomes less efficient and
DC/DC converter with digital control techniques. The design slower when the number becomes larger. Consider an example
considerations and control strategy of the system are discussed. A of 20 cells in a string and each equalizer has an efficiency of
prototype is built that the power electronics are integrated onto
95%. In order to compensate the mismatch between the first
the battery cell. Experimental results of a three-module system
verified that the module-integrated distributed system provides and last cells, all the 19 equalizers need to work and transfer
satisfied functional performance without extra equalizers, the charge between the first and the last cells, which leads to a
centralized charger or bidirectional DC/DC converter. total efficiency of 35% only. Active parallel structures [12]-
[17] have a faster equalization speed. But the transformer-
Index TermsLithium batteries, battery management systems, based methods in [12]-[14] have difficulties in transformer
battery chargers, equalizers, modular, integration, distributed. design for a large number of cells. The other methods require

attery packs have been widely used in electric vehicles, Charge
B portable power tools, load-leveling, and energy storage
devices for renewable energy systems, etc. Groups of battery


Source Battery #1 Load

cells are arranged to comprise a series string to obtain a high

voltage output. In a conventional centralized battery systems DC/DC DC/DC
[1]-[3] shown in Fig. 1(a), a DC/DC charger is used for charger (optional)
charging and an optional uni/bidirectional DC/DC converter
can be adopted for output regulation. Advanced BMS also Equalizer
requires cell equalizers to correct the imbalance among the
cascaded cells. Because of manufacturing and environmental
variance, degradation with aging, imbalance between charge Battery #M Battery pack
and discharge, and differences in thermal conditions, internal
impedances and the self-charge rate, the energy (or charge) (a) Conventional centralized battery system with series equalizers.
Discharge Charge
stored in different cells are not equal in the string. The Power
mismatch reduces the lifetime, efficiency, and capacity of the
DC bus Integrated
batteries and also increases the chance of damage, fire or even Converter battery
explosion. Battery equalization can correct the imbalance module #1
between battery cells and thus improve the overall
performance [4]. Converter
module #2
Manuscript received . Integrated
.. module battery
module #3

The authors are with the Department of Electrical and Computer

Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706 USA (e- Integrated
mail:; module battery
module #N
Color versions of one or more of the figures in this paper are available online
at (b) Proposed module-integrated distributed battery system.
Digital Object Identifier . Fig. 1. Battery system architecture.

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Transactions on Power Electronics

equalizers with a high conversion ratio so that the voltage voltage/SoC cell will be charged/discharged faster/slower to
stress and efficiency will be challenged. Therefore, a new maintain a balanced operation.
parallel architecture utilizing a low voltage DC bus is proposed
A. Integrated Battery Module
to solve the problem but has limited applications [18]. Also,
the equalization speed can be further improved with a layered The integrated battery module is the key building block to
parallel structure [19]. In addition, modularized charge the system. The modular converter has four operation modes
equalization has also been brought into sight by [20]-[21] with as shown in Fig. 2: charge, discharge, bypass and pass-through.
low voltage stress on all the electronic devices. But the Charge and discharge modes are two normal operation modes.
complexity of the equalizer structure is increased. In the bypass mode, the targeted cell is disconnected from the
Recently a module-integrated distributed battery system string when cell voltage is too low/high or the cell is faulty
shown in Fig. 1(b) is achieved by integrating the power while the rest of the system still keeps running to receive or
electronics onto battery cells as an integrated module [22]. The supply the required total power. In the pass-through mode, the
module-integrated distributed architecture has been envisioned cell could be connected to the string directly to perform an
by the authors for the future smart battery systems and other ultra-high efficiency charge/discharge. The enhanced
energy storage systems. The module-integrated battery system reliability and redundancy of the system is guaranteed by the
could be easily customized at different power and voltage cooperation of these operation modes.
levels by attaching different numbers of building blocks Power Power
together and directly plugged into the application without any Converter Converter
external management or power electronics interfaces. Since module module
the cells are self-managed by the integrated module instead of Cell Cell
series-connected, the conventional cell balancing problem no (a) Charge mode (b) Discharge mode
longer exists. There is no need for additional equalization
circuits and centralized high-power high-voltage converters. Power
The concept of module integration was previously

Converter Converter
demonstrated in PV applications with the emphasis on module module
maximum power tracking [23]-[25]. Prior to this work, the Cell Cell
modeling and integrated control analysis of a single cell system (c) Bypass mode (d) Pass-through mode
is studied [26]. In a distributed architecture, balanced
Fig. 2. Operation modes of the converter module.
discharging [27] and charge equalization [28] are discussed
based on the conventional cell balancing concept. Distributed Power electronics Battery cell
battery energy storage architecture is discussed in [29]-[30].
However, the module-integrated system has not been fully
investigated. This paper proposes the idea of integrating the
battery cell and power converter together and details the design
Integrated battery
and control of the proposed module-integrated distributed moduel
This paper formalizes and advances the study in [22] with
detailed analysis and discussions. It is organized as follows: In
Section II, the features of the module-integrated distributed
battery system are introduced and demonstrated. The design Series battery
considerations of the system are discussed in Section III. Then
the control strategy of the system is introduced in Section IV.
Prototype and experimental results are provided and analyzed
in Section V. Several discussions are made in Section VI.
Finally Section VII concludes this paper and introduces future


Battery pack
Fig. 1(b) displays the integrated module design in which
power electronics are integrated on battery cells. The
integrated module combines the functions of charger,
bidirectional DC/DC, cell equalizers, cell monitor and
protection. The DC bus voltage during discharge could be
regulated without additional centralized converter. Each
module is able to implement bidirectional current/voltage
Fig. 3. Construction of a module-integrated distributed battery system.
control to achieve different charge/discharge rate without a
centralized converter. The power distribution among those With the integrated module, the system can be built by the
modules is regulated to ensure the module with a lower/higher procedures shown in Fig. 3. The power converter, control and
communication, cell monitor and protection circuits are

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Transactions on Power Electronics

integrated onto one circuit board which is mounted onto the be assigned less power in order to be cooled down. With active
back of the battery cell. Then the integrated battery modules thermal distribution control, the system lifetime would be
are attached together to obtain a battery string, and then a pack. further improved. In addition, the active thermal distribution
control enables us to achieve the thermal balancing of the
B. Vanish of Conventional Cell Balancing Problem
battery system. Like voltage/SoC balancing, thermal balancing
The conventional cell imbalance problem due to series is also critical to ensure the uniformity of the battery system
connection no longer exists in this modular distributed system and improve the lifetime and capacity. The details of the active
because the cells are not connected to each other directly but thermal distribution control and thermal balancing will be
individually managed by the modular converter. Therefore the investigated in the future research.
equalization circuits are eliminated.
However, the system will still try to keep the cells balanced E. Other Advantages and Challenges
to ease the power and voltage stresses of the modular The module-integrated design brings several additional
converters. Ideally, the cells do not have to be balanced advantages to the battery system: (1) Easy assembly and
because the empty cell will be bypassed and the desired power customization with highly integrated modules. Bundles of wire
will be handled by the rest of the modules. However, as more connections between the cells and equalizers are avoided. (2)
and more cells are bypassed, the power and voltage stresses of Battery cells do not have to be of the same brand or series.
the active modules will increase. The modular converters have Each modular converter could fit cells of different capacities
to be overdesigned to stand higher power and voltage stresses. and chemistries into the battery pack, which can be extremely
In order to reduce the power and voltage stresses of the beneficial in managing retired batteries [32]. (3) System
modular converter, it is preferred that the total power is evenly reliability is enhanced. Usually if one or several cells fail
distributed among different modules. simultaneously, the conventional battery system has to stop
working or bear with degraded performance such as voltage
C. Reduced Power and Voltage Stresses of Power Electronics
drop. However, the new system is able to bypass the fault cells
The power and voltage stresses of the power electronics are while keeping the rest of the system working safely without
reduced due to the modular design compared with the compromising the system performance.
conventional centralized system. Comparisons between the The modular implementation also brings challenges to the
conventional system and the module-integrated system are system: (1) The modular converter needs to have high
shown in TABLE I. The two systems are compared based on efficiency, which is possible today as 98% efficiency has been
the same system-level performance in terms of charge power, achieved in similar structures for photovoltaic applications
discharge power, and balancing power, which are P 1, P2 and [24]. Besides, the system could operate in pass-through mode
P3, where P3 is usually much lower than P1 and P2. From the with ultra-high efficiency. (2) The control of the system
comparison results, the total power rating of the power becomes more complicated. Suitable control strategy needs to
electronics in the proposed system is only half of the traditional be developed to realize the functionalities of the system. (3)
system assuming P1 and P2 are similar (In this case, a load-side The cost of the system seems to increase dramatically due to
converter is adopted in the conventional system. Otherwise, the increased number of components. However, the equalizers
the total power rating will be similar for both systems but the in a conventional system also contain a large number of power
output voltage of the conventional system is unregulated). In switches, inductors, and capacitors, increasing its cost. In the
addition, the voltage stress of the power electronics is much proposed system, a higher switching frequency can be used
lower than the conventional one. when the voltage and power stress is reduced [33]. The higher
D. Active Thermal Distribution Control and Thermal switching frequency will decrease the size of passive
Balancing components, further reducing the cost according to [34]-[36].
In addition, the semiconductor production cost is highly
Integrating the power electronics and battery together
sensitive to volume. The total cost can be compensated by the
generates new challenges to dissipate the heat from both parts.
reduced unit cost due to mass production. There can be system-
However, the module-integrated distributed system brings us
on-chip solutions for each module in order to reduce both the
the opportunity to control the thermal distribution actively by cost and size as well. It is always hard to accurately estimate
regulating the charge/discharge power of different modules the cost of the system considering so many manufacturing
according to [31]. For instance, the high thermal stress cell will

Conventional centralized system Module-integrated distributed system
Function Power converter Power rating Voltage stress Power converter Power rating Voltage stress
Integrated modular P1 Vdc
Charge Battery charger P1 Vdc
converters N N
Integrated modular P2 Vdc
Discharge DC/DC converter P2 Vdc
converters N N
Vdc Integrated modular Vdc
Equalization Battery equalizers P3 P3
N converters N
Total power Total power Vdc
P1+P2+P3N Vdc Max(P1,P2)+P3N
electronics electronics N
(N is the number of equalizers and Vdc is the DC bus voltage.)

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Transactions on Power Electronics

factors but it will become clear when it finally comes to the efficiency are calculated in TABLE II and the system
industrial manufacturing process. operation is demonstrated in Fig. 6.

A. Modular Converter Topology Output current Efficiency

Various types of topologies could be applied in the modular Charge mode = +
+ + +
converter. To ease the proof-of-concept design and improve 1

efficiency, the synchronous bidirectional converter is selected. Discharge mode =
+ +
This converter can boost the DC bus voltage at the left side of + +
the converter. So the cell count in this system can be reduced (Veq=DVi, 0<D<1 and Vi>Vb)
to achieve the same total DC bus voltage. The schematic of the The minimum charge efficiency of the converter is always
bidirectional converter module is shown in Fig. 4.
bounded by . rb is intrinsically dependent on the battery
S4 +
chemistry, state of charge, temperature, etc. However, r L can
Communication bus

S1 be kept as low as possible as long as a proper inductor is
Ci S2 Co Cell selected. If rL is 1/10 of rb, the minimum efficiency can be
S5 above 91%. Therefore, the selection of the inductor in this
G2 G4
G1 G5 system is very critical. A minimum value of Veq has to be set
Vi since the discharge efficiency degrades fast when Veq drops.
Io Both charge balancing range and discharge balancing range are
defined by the maximum allowed Io and Veq. In addition, the
Fig. 4. Integrated battery module: an enhanced synchronous bidirectional converter voltage and current ratings are also determined by
converter. maximum allowed Veq and Io. Therefore, the voltage and
The bidirectional charge and discharge is enabled by the current stresses increase as the balancing power rises. The
synchronous operations. To enable bypass mode, S5 will be appropriate current and voltage ratings should be selected to
turned off and both S1 and S2 will be turned on. Alternatively, allow enough balancing abilities to correct possible imbalances.
an auxiliary switch S3 can be used to reduce the bypass loss. In
Discharge Charge
all other operation modes, S5 is always kept on and can replace Io mode mode Converter current limit
shunt resistor for current sensing. The pass-through mode can
be simply realized by keeping S1 on. Alternatively, an Iomax,charge
Converter voltage limit
additional pass-through switch S4 could be added to the system range
to reduce the pass-through loss. All auxiliary switches S3~S5
will be selected with ultra-low conduction resistance Rdson. Rated charge
operating point

B. Balancing Range and Converter Sizing 0

Veq,min Veqr,discharge Vb Veqr,charge Vi,max Veq
To ensure the even distribution of voltage and power
stresses, the system is continuously correcting the unbalanced Ior,discharge
balancing Converter current limit
modules by providing more power to cells with lower range
SoC/voltage but less power to cells with higher SoC/voltage Rated discharge
during charge, and delivering more power from cells with operating point

higher SoC/voltage but less power from cells with lower Converter voltage limit
SoC/voltage during discharge. The ability to correct the
imbalance is determined by how differently the power could
be directed to different cells. min,charge
1:D Io

+ L rL + rb
Vi Vo 0 Veq,min Veqr,discharge Vb Veqr,charge Vi,max Veq
- - Vb
Fig. 6. Balancing range and efficiency of the module converter.
Fig. 5 Steady-state equivalent circuit model of the integrated module .
C. Efficiency Optimization
To analyze the balancing range of the modular converter, the
circuit is modeled under continues current mode in Fig. 5 The system efficiency can be estimated by calculating all the
according to [37]. The duty ratio of the upper switch is D, rL is power losses according to [38]. The conduction loss of the
the inductor equivalent DC resistance, and Vi is the input MOSFETs is
voltage. The battery is modeled by a voltage source V b and a = , + , (1)
series resistance rb. The charge current Io and converter

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In the equation, , represents the high-side MOSFET According to the discussion above, it is necessary to conduct
and , represents the low-side MOSFET. And both of a multi-objective optimization for the converter design in order
them can be calculated by to achieve minimum current ripple and power loss. This
, = , (2) optimization problem subjects to the footprint constraint to
2 achieve integration and the availability of inductor products to
, = , (1 ) (3)
The RMS current is achieve ultra-low DCR and small footprint. Therefore, the
design parameters of this multi-objective optimization
problem are the switching frequency , inductance L and
= 2 + (4)
DCR. The optimization problem is summarized in equation
(13) and (14), where
where is the ripple current and is the output DC
= 1 ( ) (15)
current (inductor current).
= 2 (, ) (16)
( )
= (5) The size of the inductor is a function of inductance L and
Since the low-side MOSFET is soft-switching due to the = 4 (, ) (17)
diode conducting during the dead-time, only high-side According to the inductor design rules in TABLE III, the
switching loss is considered in charge mode. Similarly only increased L will increase core size Kg and number of turns n.
low-side switching loss is considered in discharge mode. In In a limited footprint, the core window area WA will be reduced
each mode, the switching loss is if core size increases. Then the wire size has to be reduced due
= + + + (6) to the decease of WA and increase of n. Therefore, the winding
where represents the overlap of voltage and current resistance will increase more dramatically than the inductance
during the transition, represents the loss of the L. In addition, the DCR also depends heavily on the
diode conduction during dead-time, represents the reverse manufacturing processing.
recovery loss of the diode, represents the output
capacitance loss. And each of them can be calculated by TABLE III
= ( + ) (7)
2 Wire resistivity
= (,1 Peak winding current
+ ,2 ) Inductance
= (9) Winding fill factor
= (, + , ) (10) Maximum flux density
2 Core cross-sectional area
Where and represent the rise and fall time of the
Core window area
switching transition, ,1 and ,2 represent
Mean length per turn
the dead-time, during which the current switches from high- 2
2 2
side to low-side and from low-side to high-side. represents Core size 2 10

the diode forward conduction voltage drop.
Number of turns = 104
The inductor loss is calculated considering conduction loss
only because the core loss is neglected since the converter is
Wire size
operated in continuous current mode.
2 =
= (11) Winding resistance

where DCR is the equivalent DC resistance of the inductor. Therefore, several inductors with ultra-low DCR are
Other losses are compared in TABLE IV. Within a 30mm by 30mm footprint
= + + (12) and 20mm height, the L and DCR relationship is plotted in Fig.
where is the controller loss and represents the 7. The inductors vary from 33uH with 1.65mOhm DCR to
loss of other ICs on-board, such as fuel gauge IC, isolator IC, 150uH with 38mOhm.
power supply IC. is the current sensing loss due to the
shunt resistor.
A slower switching frequency will be beneficial to the
reduction of switching loss. But the inductance has to be
increased to meet the ripple requirement. Then, the increased
inductance will usually increase the DCR, which leads to the
increase of inductor loss.

, = 1 ( ) + 2 (, ) + +
Minimize { (13)
= 3 ( , )

Subject to 4 (, ) (14)

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Transactions on Power Electronics


Part number Manufacturer Inductance/uh DCR/mohm Side length/mm Height/mm

SER2915L-333 Coilcraft 33 1.65 27.9 15.36
74435584700 Wurth Electronics 47 19 23 12
PM2110-680K-RC Bourns 68 27 30 15
60B154C Murata Power Solutions 150 38 27 22

controller loss can be relatively huge for a low power

application. For example, 1 W controller loss will reduce the

#1 SER2915L-333 total efficiency by 5% for a 20W application. The MSP430

#2 74435584700
#3 PM2110-680K-RC
microcontroller only consumes about 0.03W which is
#4 60B154C significantly smaller than a TMS320 series DSP.
38 #4 There are two ways to monitor the battery cell: use a
#3 separate fuel gauge module to monitor the voltage, current,
27 SoC and temperature of the cell; fulfill fuel gauge and monitor
19 #2 by the local microcontroller. The former is reliable and
convenient to implement with a mature IC product but requires
#1 extra chip and space. The latter demands extra processing
0 33 47 68 150 L/uH
resources from the microcontroller but saves space.
The local controller communicates with the global
Fig. 7. Samples of ultra-low DCR inductors within the 30mm by 30mm controller via a bidirectional communication. The global
footprint and 20mm height. controller is able to gather the information of each cell from the
To obtain the optimal point for the design, a Pareto frontier local controller and send out commands to adjust the status of
is formulated in Fig. 8 by calculating the power loss and ripple each module. Currently the I2C bus is used for demonstration.
using these ultra-low DCR inductor samples under different Series communication bus such as RS232, CAN, could also be
switching frequencies. A larger pool of different inductors are applied. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications are also possible
previously tested before we narrow down the current selection to eliminate signal lines.
of inductors for this problem. Then the exhaustive enumeration
method (brute-force search) [39] is conducted to generate all II. CONTROL OF THE SYSTEM
possible points in the design domain, from which we can In Fig. 9, a two-level control architecture has been
identify the Pareto frontier of this problem. Details of the developed. The global supervisor controller sends out
multi-objective optimization are out of the scope of this paper. commands for required power, voltage and current of each
Along the Pareto frontier, we can find all points that are Pareto module and receives the status of battery cells from local
efficient. Among these points, we selected the optimal design distributed controllers. Local controllers regulate the converter
with the 33uH inductor under 250 kHz switching frequency, voltage/current to track the given commands and monitor
which keeps the ripple below 10% with about 0.3W power loss battery cells. The global controller can be implemented by an
(95% efficiency). Both charging and discharging efficiencies extra central control board or by any one of the local
can be optimized in this manner. controllers in the system.
Inductor #1 Global
0.6 Inductor #2 controller
Inductor #3
Inductor #4
Power loss [W]

Local DC/DC
0.45 controller
Cell #1
Communication bus

0.3 Local DC/DC
0.25 Cell #2
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1


Fig. 8. Pareto frontier of the multi-objective optimization problem.

D. Control, monitoring and communication DC/DC

controller Cell #N
The modular converter is digitally controlled by a MSP430
series microcontroller from TI. This controller is especially Fig. 9. Two-level system control architecture.
selected in order to reduce the controller power loss since the

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The system operation follows the steps shown in the state commands of the Module #2~#N as following. The power
flow chart in Fig. 10. At Step 1, the global controller will collect commands of each modules are
the cell information from all the local controllers to identify =

, = 1,2 (18)
faulty cells. At Step 2, the bypass command will be generated Then the input voltage commands are
for the module with fault. Then the global controller will decide
= , = 2,3 (19)
the operation mode of the system. At Step 3, the charge, =1
discharge or pass-through commands will be generated based The charge balancing and discharge balancing control are
on the selected operation mode. At the final step, the commands verified through simulations. In Fig. 13 (a), initial cell voltages
will be communicated to the corresponding local controllers. are 3.68V, 3.74V, 3.8V and initial cell SoCs are 54%, 61% and
The local controllers will regulate the module to realize the 68%. In Fig. 13 (b), initial cell voltages are 3.66V, 3.74V and
commanded operation. 3.83V and initial cell SoCs are 50%, 60% and 70%. Cell
Send out
voltages and SoCs are converging in both cases under the
commands proposed control strategy.
Collect cell info:
voltage, SOC,
Discharge command temperature, etc
Pass-through generation: Charge command
command generation: calculate the discharge generation:
Turn on pass-through power command for calculate the charge
switch each module power command for
each module

Safety check:
Pass-through 5%<SOC<100%
mode Bypass command -10C <Temp<60C
Bypass faulty and
unsafe modules

Fig. 10. Control state diagram of the system oepration.

In charge mode, the charging current will be decided based (a) Charge balancing command (b) Discharge balancing command
on the cell voltage/SoC in consideration of the cell balancing Fig. 11. System command generation.
purpose. The cell voltages 1 , 2 , 3 are used for
balancing indication as a demonstration (which could also be
cell SoC). Each cell will compare its voltage to the average
value. If the voltage is higher/lower than the average, the
charging current will be reduced/increased according to Fig.
11(a). The gain Gc in the diagram has a resistance unit, which
is used to convert the voltage difference to a current difference
in order to balance the cells by varying charging current. A
saturation limit can be applied to ensure the output current lies
within the designed balancing range.
In discharge mode, the discharging voltage commands
1 , 2

are calculated according to Fig. 11(b). The gain
Gv in the diagram is used to convert the voltage difference to a
discharge rate difference by varying the discharge voltage at (a) Charge balancing control scheme (b) Discharge balancing control scheme
the DC bus side for each module. The higher the discharge
Fig. 12. System control scheme.
voltage is, the faster the cell is discharged. A saturation limit
can be applied to ensure the discharge voltage of the converter
lies within the operation range. Meanwhile, the sum of the
voltage commands is kept constant so that the total DC bus
voltage is regulated. The tolerance of the DC bus voltage is
decided by the sum of voltage ripples on the input capacitors
of all the modules. The tolerance is kept under 5% by selecting
the proper DC bus capacitance. (a) Charge balancing process.
The charging and discharging commands are given to each
module based on the control system shown in Fig. 12. The
charge balancing control scheme is different from the
discharge balancing control due to the system stability
consideration. The detailed analysis and discussions are
studied in [40], in which the charge balancing can be achieved
when the output current of one module is directly regulated
while the input voltages of all the other modules are regulated. (b) Discharge balancing process.
The input voltage commands are converted from the current Fig. 13. Simulation verification of the proposed control scheme.

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Transactions on Power Electronics

III. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS approaching a similar voltage/SoC during discharge. This

Major parts of the integrated module are listed in TABLE V. balancing process is similar to the traditional cell balancing but
The module is compatible with different types of lithium-ion based on different purposes as discussed in Section II-B. To
batteries. The 250 kHz switching frequency is very critical to increase the balancing speed, we can further increase the power
achieve high power density in order to integrate the converter difference among unbalanced modules or increase the rated
with the battery cell. A slower frequency below 100 kHz or discharge power.
even 10 kHz will increase the size of the inductor dramatically.
However, the high frequency current ripple is unfavorable to
the lifetime of the battery cells. Therefore, a filter capacitor is
paralleled with the battery cell to absorb the current ripple and
improve the battery aging due to high frequency ripple.
Device Model Manufacturer
MOSFET CSD86330Q3D Texas Instruments Fig. 16. Discharge experimental results with Panasonic NCR18650 cells.
Synchronous gate driver TPS28225 Texas Instruments
Power inductor SER2915H-333KL Coilcraft In Fig. 17, three modules were being charged by a constant
Micro-controller MSP430F5xxx Texas Instruments voltage supply of 24V. In the charge process, the cell with
lower voltage was provided a higher charge power to catch up
The integrated-module efficiency was estimated in Fig. 14 with the cell with higher voltages. The results verify that the
based on the calculations provided in Section III-C. The charge mode control is effective in distributing different
efficiency is above 90% over a wide operation range with peak charge power to different modules. The balancing power was
efficiency about 95%. 1/3 of the rated charge power and can be adjusted by varying
the charge power distribution.

(a) DC bus voltage=6V and (b) DC bus voltage=8V and

battery voltage=3.6V. battery voltage=3.6V.
Fig. 17. Charge experimental results with Panasonic NCR18650 cells.
Fig. 14. Estimated efficiency of the modular converter.
Based on the design above, the prototype was built and the In Fig. 18, the bypass mode was investigated. Bypass mode
system of three modules was tested in the experiment to will only start to work when a large imbalance occurs in the
validate the proposed concept. A two-module system cannot system, which is usually rare to happen. We used A123
adequately validate the system because it has a special duality lithium-phosphate cells for this test because it has a flatter
within the system. Any numbers larger than two can be used to voltage curve. Even the voltage of two lithium-phosphate cells
effectively validate the concept. Therefore, a three-module are similar, they may have very different SOCs. Therefore, the
system is designed in the experiment. It can simplify the difficulties in SoC estimation will highly increase the chance
experimental verification process and also provide guidance to of a large cell imbalance. Based on this fact, we tested three
build larger systems. The hardware set-up is shown in Fig. 15. modules with similar voltages but different SOCs. The system
was still providing a constant 18V to the load but the discharge
voltage curve in this figure is much flatter than that in Fig. 16.
When the cell was approaching empty, the cell voltage dropped
dramatically. The system was able to identify the low voltage
module and bypassed it. Meanwhile it started to increase the
discharge power from the other two active modules to maintain
(a) Integrated battery module.
the same output voltage and power. So the low voltage cell was
protected and the system performance was not degraded. The
SoCs of those cells were also converging during the discharge
process. However, in a traditional battery system, the low
voltage cell has a huge risk to be damaged if the equalization
(b) Three-module battery system. cannot correct the imbalance in time.
Fig. 15. Experiment set-up.

In Fig. 16, three modules with different initial voltages and

SOCs were being discharged to supply a constant 18V output
to the load. The experiment shows that the output voltage was
regulated to be constantly 18V and all three cells were

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Transactions on Power Electronics

The efficiency of this work is compared to the conventional

battery system consisted of battery charger, equalizer and
bidirectional DC/DC in TABLE VI. It is difficult to compare the
overall system level efficiency because there are three different
converters used in the conventional battery system. Although
the DC/DC converter can be highly efficient, the battery
charger is not super-efficient and the equalizers are even
worse. On the contrary, the proposed system can obtain a high
efficiency in all three functions and can be scaled up to higher
power with the same efficiency by adding more modules to the

A. Scalability of the System
The power and energy capacity of the single module can be
Fig. 18. Bypass experimental results during discharge with A123 cells.
scaled up by integrating more cells. The current design of the
The prototype achieved a peak efficiency of 94% in Fig. 19. integrated module is focused on single-cell integration at low
The efficiency measurements have a good agreement with the power which is around 5 W~20 W. The single-cell integration
estimation. The degraded efficiency is due to the under- is the fundamental configuration of the module-integrated
estimation of the inductor loss, connection resistance, parasitic distributed battery system. For multi-cell integration, all the
resistance, etc. In Fig. 20, different power loss segments are design parameters will be changed but the methodology is the
detailed. Since the controller loss and other losses degrade the same. The single-cell integration is a very important initiative
efficiency a lot, the efficiency will possibly be further improved in the module-integration path and lays the foundation for
at higher power levels when a larger cell or multiple cells are future optimization of the system configurations.
integrated within one module. The power and energy capacity of the proposed system can
be scaled up by adding more modules to the system. This scale
up does not require any change of designs. This is a great
advantage compared to conventional battery system.
B. Reliabiliy of the System
The communication reliability is very important to the
system since it requires communication to coordinate different
modules in order to achieve balanced operation. The
communication bus in the current design is I2C. According to
(a) Discharge efficiency (b) Charge efficiency [41], I2C is very reliable and have several internal fault
Fig. 19. Mesured efficiency of the modular converter (Cell voltage is 3.6V and tolerance mechanism. If a slave device is malfunctioning, an
DC bus side voltage is 6V). I2C switch can be used to isolate it from the bus and the other
devices are still available to be addressed by the master. It is
programmable through I2C so no additional pin is required to
reconfigure it. If a master fails, a backup master can replace
the malfunctioning one. Currently, we use a separate control
unit as the master. Once it fails, the microcontroller in the first
battery module will become the master. If the first one fails,
the second one will become the master. This mechanism will
continue until there are not enough modules to maintain
normal operation. The detailed reliability analysis are not the
focus of this paper but a rich and important topic. The detailed
analysis and modelling may be conducted based on Markov
Fig. 20. Power loss of the integrated module. Battery voltage=3.13V, battery
analysis method [42]-[43].
current=4.05A, input voltage=6V.

Conventional battery system Proposed battery system
Converters Charger Bidirectional DC/DC Equalizers Integrated battery module
87% (@50W) [45] 95% (@500W) [49] 56% (@3.9W) [20]
Peak 91% (@80W) [46] 98.8%(@2kW) [50] 90% (@10W) [53]
93% (@scalable power)
efficiency 90%(@85W) [47] 95% (@400W) [51] 55% (@2W) [17]
92%(@1.2kW) [48] 93% (2kW) [52] 90% (@5W) [54]

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Transactions on Power Electronics

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