A method has been developed for continuous cell voltage balancing for rechargeable batteries (e.g. lithium ion batteries). A resistor divider chain is provided that generates a set of voltages representing the ideal cell voltage (the voltage of each cell should be as if the cells were perfectly balanced). An operational-amplifier circuit with an added current buffer stage generates the ideal voltage with a very high degree of accuracy, using the concept of negative feedback.

The ideal voltages are each connected to the corresponding cell through a current-limiting resistance. Over time, having the cell connected to the ideal voltage provides a balancing current that moves the cell voltage very close to that ideal level. In effect, it adjusts the current of each cell during charging, discharging, and standby periods to force the cell voltages to be equal to the ideal voltages generated by the resistor divider. The device also includes solid-state switches that disconnect the circuit from the battery so that it will not discharge the battery during storage.

This solution requires relatively few parts and is, therefore, of lower cost and of increased reliability due to the fewer failure modes. Additionally, this design uses very little power. A preliminary model predicts a power usage of 0.18 W for an 8-cell battery. This approach is applicable to a wide range of battery capacities and voltages.

This work was done by Steven D. Johnson, Jerry W. Byers, and James A. Martin of Lockheed Martin Space Systems for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809.

Title to this invention has been waived under the provisions of the National Aeronautics and Space Act {42 U.S.C. 2457(f)}, to Lockheed Martin Space Systems. Inquiries concerning licenses for its commercial development should be addressed to:

David P. Wood, Esq.

General Counsel, Intellectual Property

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company

P.O. Box 179, MS 5120

Denver, CO 80201-0179