The Silicon Review
Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) bring a lot of convenience to our life. Having dominated as the power sources for consumer electronics, LIBs are advancing into the field of transportation, especially electric vehicles. The key benefit of using LIBs is that they are recyclable. The Lithium-ion batteries are recycled using hydrometallurgical recycling process as lithium isn’t a toxic heavy metal, also the pascal pressure required to recycle the Lithium-ion batteries is less when compared to batteries that are made up of other metals. Though lithium-ion batteries promote many sustainable actions, we cannot deny the fact that these batteries also show less than positive effect on environment. However, when compared to the alternative of using fossil fuels, lithium-batteries come out far ahead. Better yet, many companies continue to push for more sustainable battery technology.
REC Battery Management System (BMS) is one such company that designs environmentally friendly and safest electronics for monitoring Lithium-ion batteries for use in variety of hybrid and pure electric applications. Its function is to control the individual battery cells and provide protection against over-charging and discharging and keeping them within the operating temperature range and leveling capacity of individual cells. The firm is specialized in customized solutions for managing lithium-based battery systems, including additional custom programming, software or hardware development and user-friendly services.
In conversation with Maja Pozar Andrejasic, and Tine Andrejasic, Founders of REC BMS
Q. Can you tell us about your services in brief?
The world is showing an increased interest in the use of renewable energy resources. In autonomous systems, it is necessary to store the produced energy and use it in later times. Therefore we need batteries or battery packs. In all such systems, we need a control unit that monitors each battery cell - Battery Management System (BMS) to protect cells, prolong their life expectancy, and to maintain the user’s safety. REC BMS is suitable for use in any stand-alone Lithium-based battery system. Its function is to control battery cells individually and whole battery pack, protection against over-charging and discharging, keeping cells inside operating temperature range and leveling capacity of individual cells, informing the user about its current state. Our products and services are customized according to the client’s requirements. We also offer development and design of the battery management system from scratch, to provide a complete solution for companies.
Q. There is a growing concern about the environment due to the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. How do you address this concern?
We started the company with an idea of a greener planet. We have always thought about how we can make use of our knowledge to make the change towards a greener future. We see the increase of energy storage applications, which can provide us with more renewable energy resources by using the energy storage systems as a regulator for the main power grid. We drive a converted electric car with integrated REC BMS. We have PV (solar) installation on the roof at our home and our offices. In combination with the energy storage system and REC BMS, most of our offices are self-sustainable: we use less (or as much energy) than we produce ourselves. Besides that, our products are made with energy from renewable sources, and we strive to paperless business. Our mission is a greener planet – the legacy we will be leaving behind for our children.
Q. How does your battery management system affect electric vehicles?
The battery management system is a crucial part of every lithium-based battery pack, whether used in EV or anywhere else. We are substituting traditional 12 V lead batteries with advanced lithium batteries (also used in EV). Advanced lithium batteries offer more charging cycles, have better energy and power density, and can deliver up to six times more energy for the same price compared with lead batteries. 12 V lithium battery pack is comprised of four in-series connected cells. Additional electronics is required to protect each cell against over-charge, under-charge, over-heat, etc. We have developed high-tech solution REC Active BMS for substituting 12 V lead batteries with lithium cells, covering all necessary protections. This BMS was the first of its kind on the market with active cell balancing. Energy from the highest cells (or pack) is transferred to the lowest cells with high efficiency and current (no energy dissipation to heat). The battery pack also lasts longer, is more efficient, and informs the user about its current state.
Q. How can we increase the life span of the battery cells in EVs?
By using a battery management system. REC BMS is suitable for use in any stand-alone Lithium-Ion battery system also high voltage systems in electric vehicles. By connecting more slave units (4-16 battery cells) via the Master unit, the BMS can control up to 225 individual battery cells (up to 900 V). It is capable of balancing with higher currents; it has low self-consumption. The measurement accuracy of each cell is one mV, and it offers temperature measurement with up to 4 sensors per slave BMS unit. Implemented algorithms allow balancing cells already during the charging cycle, which shortens the charging time. This innovation extends the cycles of battery cells (charging/discharging) and therefore prolongs batteries’ life expectancy.
Q. Tell us about the algorithm used in your solution to determine the exact state of charge (SOC) of an individual battery pack.
We have developed our own algorithm to determine the exact state of charge (SOC) of an individual battery pack so that the user knows exactly how much energy is still available in his system.
Besides, our product can establish communication between different electronic parts (via integrated CAN protocol) and between an electric vehicle and charging station.
Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?
We have many new things coming to the market this year. First, we will introduce an entirely new Master unit, which will also offer to charge station communication for EV applications and isolation monitor for most high-voltage applications. The newer version of REC Q BMS will be available on the market later this year with many new features and inverter compatibilities for energy storage applications. Currently, we are developing a new WI-FI module for remote access with an additional RS-485 output for touch display extension and data logging with analysis tools. In this way, the user interface with the system will change significantly.
Meet the Leadership Team of REC BMS
Tine Andrejasic and Maja Pozar Andrejasic are the Founders of REC BMS. REC was founded as a start-up company in December 2011. Maja and Tine realized the need for electronic components in the emerging market of electric vehicles and founded a start-up company REC Ltd. Tine Andrejasic holds a Ph. D. electrical engineering. Maja Pozar Andrejasic holds a bachelor’s degree in Physics.