Battery types and characteristics

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The function of the battery in a HEV may be varied. The battery may be a major power source, or may be used in conjuction with the primary power source(s) to level out the supply of power to the drivetrain. As a consequence, the amount of battery power aboard a HEV may vary between a single battery to a pack of many batteries connected together. When using batteries as a primary source of power, the HEV designer becomes concerned with the mass and volume of the battery pack required to meet the power and energy needs of the vehicle. The drive to achieve high power and energy densities have led the HEV community to investigate many types of batteries. These new battery types also promise greater cycle depth, power and energy capacity.

• CAPACITY: The battery capacity is a measure of how much energy the battery can store. Batteries do not simply serve as a bucket into which one dumps electricity and later extracts it. The amount of energy that can be extracted from a fully charged battery, for instance, depends on temperature, the rate of discharge, battery age, and battery type. Consequently it is difficult to specify a battery's capacity with a single number. There are primarily three ratings that are used to specify the capacity of a battery:

Ampere-hour: The Amphere-hour (Ah) denotes the current at which a battery can discharge at a constant rate over a specified length of time. For SLI (starting-lighting-ignition) batteries that are commonly used in cars, the standard is to specify Ampere-hours for a 20 hours discharge. This standard is denoted by the nomenclature of C/20. A 60 Ah C/20 battery will produce 60 Ah for a 20 hour discharge. This means that the new and fully charged battery will produce 3 Amps for 20 hours - it does not mean that the battery can produce 6 Amps for 10 hours (that would be signified by a C/10 60 Ah rating).

Reserve Capacity: The reserve capacity denotes the length of time, in minutes, that a battery can produce a specified level of discharge. A value of 35 minutes at 25 Amps for the reserve capacity for a battery means that the fully charged battery can produce 25 Amps for 35 minutes.
kWh Capacity: The kWh capacity metric is a measure of the energy (Volt * Amps * Time) required to fully charge a depleted battery. A depleted battery is usually not a fully discharged battery; a 12 V car battery is considered depleted when its voltage drops to 10.5 V. Similarly, a 6V battery is usually considered depleted when its voltage drops to 5.25 V.

None of these capacity ratings completely describe the capacity of a battery. Each one is a measure of the capacity under specific conditions. The performance of a battery in an actual application may vary substantially due to different discharge/recharge rates, battery age, cycle history, and/or temperature.

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