Bi-directional Conversion Topology Improves Performance of Batteries Systems in Energy Storage Applications

June 4, 2015

Batteries play an increasingly important role in energy storage systems (ESS), allowing surplus energy harvested from fluctuating renewable energy sources to be stored and then released to the consuming equipment, or delivered back to the grid, when needed. With the growth in use of renewable sources of power, and the demand for higher total system efficiency, the ESS market – and battery systems particularly – are forecast to grow rapidly.

Due to the ease of interfacing to other electronic equipment, and the development of intelligent management systems, designers of ESSs are selecting batteries to replace traditional mechanical means of energy storage such as hydro pumps and flywheels.

Today, testing batteries is an energy-consuming task. The batteries are charged, typically through an electronic circuit, and then discharged to a dissipative load, from which the stored energy cannot be recovered and so it is wasted. If a bi-directional circuit is used in place of the traditional charger, one could recycle the energy during the discharge test. For example, the discharged energy could be returned to the system to charge the next batteries to be tested.

This approach could lead to a very efficient battery testing process, where the dissipative loss due to the discharge cycle is virtually eliminated, leaving only losses due to the conversion process in the charge and discharge cycle: a fraction of the power that would be wasted in the traditional system.

Another application is in IT backup system, when battery banks provide emergency power during mains outage. The batteries are charged to standby state when the primary energy source is functioning normally, and are then discharged to power the system should the primary source fail.  This system would also benefit from a bi-directional energy transfer topology, simplifying system integration and improving overall efficiency.

Bi-directional converters have been available for some time. However, Vicor’s unique Sine Amplitude Converter (SAC) topology overcomes the voltage spike problems of traditional topology, and also improves efficiency performance.

The Vicor VTM is one product that offers a bi-directional capability, and that has been used by several customers to improve the efficiency of their battery-powered applications. Learn more about how you can take advantage of bi-directional power components by reading the articles below:

The Vicor VTM, BCM and NBM are products that offer bi-directional capability for various input and output voltage combinations (from lower input voltages like 12V and 48V up to high and ultra high voltages of up to 800V). These products have been used by several customers to improve the efficiency of their battery-powered applications.


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