Smart Machines & Factories
Intelligent battery management system (BMS) improves performance, lifetime and safety
Published:  12 October, 2021
Brill Power BMS

Brill Power has launched a new category of ‘intelligent’ battery management systems (BMS) that claims to break through existing compromises.

Brill Power, an Oxford University spin-out company, has launched the first in a new class of ‘intelligent’ battery management systems (BMS) that is says is set to revolutionise the performance of stationary energy storage systems, to power the future of homes and businesses globally.

Brill Power’s breakthrough technology is said to transform the cost and performance of energy storage systems by increasing battery life by up to 60%, enhancing storage capacity by over 120%, increasing system uptime and drive down lifetime operating costs.

The BrillMS B62 Premium is expected to be particularly valuable for applications where the battery is a mission-critical component, such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), telecoms, medical and defence.

The status quo

Every battery needs a battery management system (BMS), which is a little-known but all-important component ensuring that lithium-ion and other battery chemistries operate safely and effectively.

Until now, there have been only two types of BMS available to battery system developers: those that perform passive balancing and those that perform active balancing. The limited choice is driven by limited expectations because the BMS is typically only expected to do one thing: keep the battery cells safe by stopping them from getting over-charged or over-discharged, too hot or too cold, or overloaded with electric current.

Presently, if a battery system developer needs a top-end BMS, they utilise an active balancing BMS, which helps improve round-trip efficiency. But the additional cost typically doesn’t justify this marginal benefit, so passive balancing is the go-to option. In battery design, the BMS is typically viewed as a means to an end, a necessary evil to maintain the required safety level. Most of the innovation and technological improvements in batteries are expected to come from the battery cells and their materials. Therfore a lot of innovation and improvements are needed to get battery lifetime, performance and even safety up to levels that are adequate for large-scale rollouts of energy storage and electric vehicles.

Now, through a patented approach to optimised cell-level current control, Brill Power’s optimised cell-level current control brings a step-change improvement into the present, compared to active balancing with its low value for money or the performance, life and safety constraining solution of passive balancing. Brill has also designed the hardware and software to implement it.

Proprietary algorithms determine the state of health and power capability of every parallel-connected cell block in the battery and novel control circuitry regulates the electric current accordingly. Stronger cell blocks are exposed to higher currents and weaker ones to lower currents.

Faulty battery cells and modules can be bypassed and replaced while the battery system remains fully operational. “Our patented control concept ensures that every single Joule of energy is used during every single discharge cycle," said Brill Power’s Chief Technology Officer, Damien Frost. "As a result, no single cell limits the energy storage capacity, power capability or lifetime of the battery system. This means maximal performance, lifetime and reliability.”

And with regulated battery output voltage, the battery can also be directly connected to other power sources or loads in the system, such as solar photovoltaic arrays or electric vehicle chargers without the need for a costly DC/DC converter or charge controller.

“Brill Power’s novel BMS technology brings step-change improvements to batteries, previously only thought to be achievable with innovations in materials or chemistry," added Christoph Birkl, Brill’s Chief Executive. "The BrillMS enables battery system developers to create much safer and reliable battery systems.“

Cell-level protection prevents currents exceeding safe limits and any cells approaching hazardous conditions can be isolated.

With massive rises in wholesale energy prices on global markets, the merits of driving performance and efficiency into localised energy storage have been put into sharp focus in recent weeks. Battery-based energy storage solutions in turn enable renewable sources such as solar and wind to be more dependably used in both domestic and commercial contexts. The US Department of Energy already projecting that energy storage demands will exceed 300GWh by 2030.

• Brill Power was formed in 2016 to commercialise this know-how. DNV, an independent energy expert and assurance provider, has acted as technical consultant through the testing and verification of Brill Power’s new battery management system (BMS) technology. This testing confirms that Brill Power’s novel BMS concept brings advantages for a number of key battery characteristics like higher utilized pack capacity, that potentially result in lower lifetime cost. DNV also concluded that the Brill Power BMS complies with the functional safety requirements of standards IEC62619, UL1973, UL9540 and VDE-AR-E 2510-50.

• The company is backed by the University of Oxford and supported by Oxford Science Enterprises, Oxford Investment Consultants, Skunkworks Investment Corporation, Innovate UK, the EIT Climate-KIC, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Carbon Limiting Technologies.