(19)
(11)EP 2 628 235 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
26.06.2019 Bulletin 2019/26

(21)Application number: 11833311.1

(22)Date of filing:  12.10.2011
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H02J 1/10(2006.01)
H02J 7/34(2006.01)
H02J 1/12(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2011/055920
(87)International publication number:
WO 2012/051265 (19.04.2012 Gazette  2012/16)

(54)

FAULT-TOLERANT POWER SUPPLY

FEHLERTOLERANTE STROMVERSORGUNG

ALIMENTATION ÉLECTRIQUE AVEC TOLÉRANCE DES PANNES


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 12.10.2010 US 392335 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
21.08.2013 Bulletin 2013/34

(73)Proprietor: Heartware, Inc.
Miami Lakes, FL 33014 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • CARDER, Craig
    Brighton, MA 02135 (US)

(74)Representative: HGF Limited 
4th Floor Merchant Exchange 17-19 Whitworth Street West
Manchester M1 5WG
Manchester M1 5WG (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
US-A- 4 812 672
US-A1- 2005 185 352
US-A1- 2007 279 953
US-A1- 2010 141 048
US-A- 5 065 083
US-A1- 2007 097 719
US-A1- 2009 206 841
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Cross-Reference to Related Application



    [0001] This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/392,335, filed October 12, 2010, entitled "Redundant Battery Pack", the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

    Background



    [0002] The methods and apparati described herein relate generally to power supply systems, and, in particular, to methods and apparati for providing battery-based power to a load, by way of a power supply system including a multiple cell battery pack or module.

    [0003] The operation of certain electronic devices, such as implanted heart pumps, requires continuous application of power, i.e., voltage and current, derived from an implanted battery source. Typically, the battery source is a battery module including a set of interconnected rechargeable battery cells. It is often critical for such devices that the required power is delivered in spite of battery cell failures which might occur during the operation of the base electronic, or load, device.

    [0004] Some known power supply systems for meeting the continuous, and fault-tolerant power requirements of such electronic devices, consist of a battery pack including multiple interconnected battery cells as a primary source of power, and a control circuit that controls ancillary operations relating to the battery cells, such as control of re-charging rate and discharge rate and the like. Typically, the control circuit provides a protection for the power supply system, so that neither the power supply system, nor a load device coupled thereto, is damaged in the event of one or more batteries cell failures. In some known power supply systems, the control circuit shuts down the power supply system when one or more battery cells fail to operate properly, including the shutdown of both the failed battery cells as well as remaining still-functional battery cells,. Such a power supply system is not acceptable where a continuous supply of power is critical and interruptions cannot be tolerated, and where direct access to the battery cells for replacement, is not practical (e.g., certain military applications, satellite applications, and implanted medical device applications, and the like).

    [0005] In some other known power supply systems having a multiple cell battery pack for primary power, a secondary (redundant) battery pack packaged in or near the primary power pack, provides power to a load coupled thereto, when the primary battery pack fails to provide sufficient power. For such systems, a control circuit of the power supply system, generally detects a failure of the one or more cells of the primary battery pack, and upon such detection, switches operation to the redundant battery. The aggregate number of battery cells in such a power supply system is greater than the number of battery cells used at any given moment, which increases cost and reduces efficiency. Such a power supply system is not acceptable where a continuous supply of power is critical and interruptions cannot be tolerated, and where there is no practical volume for the storage of the redundant battery pack.

    [0006] Accordingly, a need exists for an apparatus and/or method to enable a multiple battery cell-based power supply system to provide power continuously to a load device, in the event of a battery cell failure, without requiring replacement of failed cells or redundant battery cells. Such an apparatus is referred to below as a "fault tolerant" power supply system.

    Summary



    [0007] In some embodiments, a power supply system includes two power modules, each configured to be electrically coupled to a set of battery cells. The set of battery cells produces a first voltage when in a first operational state, and a second voltage when in a second operational state. The second voltage is less than the first voltage. The first power module is configured to provide a third voltage to a load device that is substantially equal to the first voltage, when the set of battery cells is in the first operational state. The second power module is configured to provide a fourth voltage to the load device that is substantially equal to the first voltage, when the set of battery cells is in the second operational state.

    Brief Description of the Drawings



    [0008] 

    FIG. 1 is a system block diagram of a power supply system, according to an embodiment.

    FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a power supply system, according to another embodiment.

    FIG. 3 is a state transition diagram illustrating operation states of the power supply system of FIG. 2.

    FIG. 4 illustrates the output voltages of the power supply system of FIG. 2.

    FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating a method of utilizing a power module of a power supply system when an amount of voltage produced by a set of battery cells is outside an operational voltage range, according to an embodiment.

    FIG. 6 is a system block diagram of another power supply system, according to an embodiment.


    Detailed Description



    [0009] In some embodiments, a power supply system includes two power modules, each configured to be electrically coupled to a set of battery cells. The set of battery cells produces a first voltage when in a first operational state, and a second voltage when in a second operational state. The second voltage is less than the first voltage. The first power module is configured to provide a third voltage to a load device that is substantially equal to the first voltage, when the set of battery cells is in the first operational state. The second power module is configured to provide a fourth voltage to the load device that is substantially equal to the first voltage, when the set of battery cells is in the second operational state.

    [0010] In some embodiments, a power supply system includes two power modules and a set of battery cells. Each power module is electrically coupled to the set of battery cells and can supply power to a load device. Specifically, the first power module can provide power to the load device when each battery cell produces a voltage within an operational range. The output voltage provided by the first power module is substantially equal to the voltage provided by the battery cells when each battery cell produces a voltage within the operational range. On the other hand, the second power module can provide power to the load device when one or more battery cells produce a voltage below the operational range (e.g., due to a battery cell failure). The output voltage provided by the second power module is also substantially equal to the voltage provided by the battery cells when each battery cell produces a voltage within the operational range.

    [0011] In some embodiments, the second power module can receive an indication that one or more battery cells produce a voltage outside the operational voltage range (e.g., lower than the operational range). In response to the indication, the second power module can receive a voltage provided by the remaining battery cells that are still functional. Such a voltage can be less than the voltage provided by the first power module when each battery cell produces a voltage within the operational range. Furthermore, the second power module can use the voltage provided by the remaining functional battery cells to supply a voltage to the load device. The voltage supplied by the second power module can be substantially equal to the voltage provided by the first power module when each battery cell produces a voltage within the operational voltage range.

    [0012] In some embodiments, an apparatus includes a secondary power module electrically coupled to a primary power module. The primary power module is coupled to a set of battery cells. When each battery cell produces a voltage within an operational voltage range, the primary power module can provide a voltage to a load device. When one or more battery cells produce a voltage outside the operational voltage range (e.g., lower than the operational range), the secondary power module can use a voltage provided by the set of battery cells to provide a voltage to the load device. The voltage provided by the secondary power module can be substantially equal to the voltage provided by the primary power module. Additionally, the voltage provided by the secondary power module to the load device can be greater than the voltage provided by the set of battery cells to the secondary power module.

    [0013] As used herein, a module that is within a power supply system can be, for example, any assembly and/or set of operatively-coupled electrical devices that define one or more components within a power supply system. In some embodiments, a module can include, for example, a memory, a processor, integrated circuits, logics, interfaces, software (executing in hardware) and/or the like.

    [0014] As used in this specification, the singular forms "a," "an" and "the" include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, the term "a control module" is intended to mean a single control module or a combination of control modules.

    [0015] FIG. 1 is a system block diagram of a power supply system 100, according to an embodiment. The power supply system 100 includes a first power module 130, a second power module 140, a set of battery cells 110, and a load device 120. The first power module 130 can be operatively coupled to the battery cells 110, the second power module 140, and the load device 120. The second power module 140 can also be operatively coupled to the battery cells 110 and the load device 120. In some embodiments, the power supply system 100 can be operatively coupled to a power source 150.

    [0016] The battery cells 110 can consist of multiple battery cells. Each battery cell can be electrically coupled, in series (and optionally in parallel), with one or more remaining battery cells. For example, as described in detail herein, FIG. 2 shows a set of four battery cells B1-B4 that are electrically coupled in series and are operatively coupled to a first power module 230 and a second power module 240. In some embodiments, the battery cells 110 can be a set of battery cells with a substantially similar amount of output voltage. For example, each battery cell can be a lithium ion rechargeable battery that can produce a nominal voltage of, for example, 3.7 V. In some other embodiments, the battery cells 110 can include different types of battery cells with a different amount of output voltage, including a lithium battery (e.g., 3.6 V), an alkaline battery (e.g., 1.5 V), a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable battery (e.g., 1.2 V), a nickel-cadmium (NiCd) rechargeable battery (e.g., 1.2 V), etc.

    [0017] In some embodiments, the battery cells 110 can be a set of non-rechargeable batteries that can discharge (i.e., provide current) to the load device 120. The load device 120 can be a power-consuming device, i.e., an electronic device that can be driven by the power provided from a power supply system.

    [0018] Furthermore, the load device 120 can be a power-consuming device for many applications in various fields, including medical (e.g., implantable pump for total heart replacement or ventricular assist, implantable neural stimulator, implantable pump for delivery of therapeutics, etc.), military (e.g., Electro-Magnetic Pulse weapons, intruder sensor system, etc.), industrial (e.g., portable vertical lifting device, automotive battery, etc.), consumer (e.g., hand-held game controller, smoke sensor detector, etc.), etc. Alternatively, the power supply system 100 can be electrically coupled to a power source 150, that can provide power to the load device 120. In some embodiments, the power source 150 can be a primary power source and the battery cells 110 can provide backup power to the load device 120 when the power source 150 does not provide power to the load device 120. In other embodiments, the power source 150 can be a backup power source and can provide power to the load device 120 when the battery cells 110 do not have sufficient power to drive the load device 120. The power source 150 can be a transcutaneous energy transmission (TET) system, a redundant battery pack, an external power supply with a socket, etc.

    [0019] In some other embodiments, the battery cells 110 can be a set of rechargeable batteries that can discharge to the load device 120. In such embodiments, the power source 150 can be configured to recharge the battery cells 110. The power source 150 can also be configured to provide power to the load device 120 when the battery cells 110 do not have sufficient power to drive the load device 120 (e.g., while the power source 150 recharges the battery cells 120).

    [0020] The first power module 130 can include a control module and other peripheral circuitry to control the discharge and recharge operation of the battery cells 110. In some embodiments, the first power module 130 can determine autonomously, based on the operational state of the battery cells 110 and the availability of the power source 150, when to electrically connect the battery cells 110 to, or electrically disconnect the battery cells 110 from, the load device 120 and/or the power source 150. For example, when the battery cells 110 are in a normal operational state, the first power module 130 can electrically connect the battery cells 110 to the load device 120 to enable a discharge operation. Similarly stated, the first power module 130 can electrically connect the battery cells 110 to the load device 120 such that the battery cells 110 can provide current to the load device 120. Alternatively, when the battery cells 110 do not have sufficient power to drive the load device 120, and the power source 150 is available, the first power module 130 can electrically connect the battery cells 110 to the power source 150 to enable a recharge operation. Similarly stated, the first power module 130 can electrically connect the battery cells 110 to the power source 150 such that the power source 150 can provide current to the battery cells 110. For another example, as described in detail herein, when the battery cells 110 are not in the normal operational state (e.g., in the event of a battery cell failure), the first power module 130 can electrically disconnect the battery cells 110 from the load device 120, and/or the power source 150, to disable any discharge or recharge operation.

    [0021] In other embodiments, the first power module 130 can take manual commands from an outside recourse (e.g., a human operator) to control the discharge and recharge operation of the battery cells 110. For example, the first power module 130 can be controlled through a device that can be manually operated by a human operator (e.g., a switch, a button, a remote controller, etc.). The first power module 130 can be configured to electrically connect the battery cells 110 and the load device 120 to enable a discharge operation when the device is in a first state. Similarly, the first power module 130 can be configured to electrically disconnect the battery cells 110 and the load device 120, and/or to entirely shut down the first power module 130, when the device is in a second state. Furthermore, the first power module 130 can be configured to electrically connect the battery cells 110 and the power source 150 (if the power source 150 is available) to enable a recharge operation, when the device is in a third state.

    [0022] Similar to the first power module 130, the second power module 140 can include circuitry to control the discharge and recharge operation of the battery cells 110. In some embodiments, as described in detail herein, the second power module 140 does not electrically connect the battery cells 110 to the load device 120 when the first power module 130 electrically connects the battery cells 110 to the load device 120. In other words, the second power module 140 is not in use when the first power module 130 is in use. On the other hand, the second power module 140 electrically connects the battery cells 110 to the load device 120 when the first power module 130 does not electrically connect the battery cells 110 to the load device 120. In other words, the second power module 140 is in use when the first power module 130 is not in use (e.g., in the event of a battery cell failure, a circuitry failure, etc.). In some embodiments, the first power module 130 can be referred to as a primary power module, and the second power module 140 can be referred to as a secondary power module.

    [0023] Particularly, as an example, the power supply system 100 can be part of an implantable ventricular assist device (VAD) system, which includes an implantable blood pump (i.e., load device 120), an internal controller (i.e., the first power module 130 and the second power module 140), a rechargeable internal battery (i.e., battery cells 110), and a transcutaneous energy transmission (TET) system including an implantable power receiver and an external power transmitter (i.e., power source 150). In some embodiments, the external power transmitter (e.g., an inductive coil) can provide power to the implantable blood pump via the implantable power receiver (e.g., a second inductive coil). More specifically, the external power transmitter can be inductively coupled to the implantable power receiver such that power is transferred from the external power transmitter to the implantable power receiver. In some embodiments, the TET system can be a primary power source for the implantable blood pump and the internal battery can be a secondary or backup power source. More specifically, the internal battery can provide power to the implantable blood pump when the TET system does not provide power to the implantable blood pump (e.g., the external power transmitter is not aligned and/or is not in physical proximity to the implantable power receiver. Alternatively, the TET system can be a secondary power source such that when the internal battery does not have sufficient power to drive the implantable blood pump, the TET system can be used to transfer power from the external power transmitter to the implantable blood pump via the implantable power receiver. In addition, the TET system can be used to recharge the internal battery.

    [0024] FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a power supply system 200, according to another embodiment. The power supply system 200 can include a first power module 230, a second power module 240, and a set of battery cells 210. Similar to the first power module 130, the second power module 140, and the battery cells 110 in FIG. 1, the first power module 230 can be operatively coupled to the battery cells 210 and the second power module 240. The second power module 240 can also be operatively coupled to the battery cells 210. Additionally, a load device (not shown in FIG. 2) can be coupled to the first power module 230 through electrodes E1 and E2, and/or the second power module 240 through electrodes E1 and E3. The voltages measured at electrodes E1, E2, and E3 are voltage V1, V2, and V3, respectively, as shown in FIG. 2.

    [0025] The battery cells 210 can consist of multiple battery cells (as shown by battery cells B1-B4) electrically coupled in series. More specifically, as shown in FIG. 2, battery cell B1's negative electrode is coupled to battery cell B2's positive electrode; battery cell B2's negative electrode is coupled to battery cell B3's positive electrode; and battery cell B3's negative electrode is coupled to battery cell B4's positive electrode. With such a configuration, the voltage at the positive electrode of battery cell B1 is the sum of the output voltage of the battery cells B1-B4, when each of the battery cells B1-B4 is in a normal operational state. For example, if the battery cells B1-B4 are HCT14500 Li-ion rechargeable batteries, which produce a nominal voltage of 3.7 V, then the output voltage of the battery cells 210, measured at the positive electrode of battery cell B1, is approximately 14.8 V.

    [0026] As shown in FIG. 2, the first power module 230 can include a control module 235. In some embodiments, the control module 235 can include hardware, firmware, and/or software (executing in hardware) that can provide safety protection for the power supply system 200. Additionally, the control module 235 can provide protection to a load device (not shown in FIG. 2) that is driven by the power supply system 200. For example, the control module 235 can include a battery gas gauge device (e.g., Texas Instruments' bq20z90) and an analog front end (AFE) for battery protection (e.g., Texas Instruments' bq29330), which can be used to provide safety protection for overload, short circuit in charge / discharge, battery overvoltage / undervoltage, etc. Such a control module includes at least a processor and a memory portion. For example, Texas Instruments' bq29330 includes a processor and a ROM, a RAM, a program flash memory, and a data flash memory.

    [0027] The first power module 230 can also include other peripheral circuitry that can electrically couple the control module 235 with other parts of the power supply system 200. Specifically, the control module 235 can be electrically coupled to each of the battery cells B1-B4, and a boost circuit 245 that is part of the second power module 240. The control module 235 can also be electrically coupled to electrodes E1 and E2, through which power can be supplied to a load device (not shown in FIG. 2) from the first power module 230.

    [0028] In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the control module 235 can be electrically coupled with the positive electrode and negative electrode of each of the battery cells B1-B4. This configuration can enable the control module 235 to detect a battery cell failure at any of the battery cells B1-B4. In some embodiments, the control module 235 can detect a battery cell failure by monitoring the output voltage of each of the battery cells B1-B4. For example, if battery cell B1 fails, the control module 235 can detect that the output voltage of battery cell B1 has changed from an amount within an operational voltage range (e.g., a range around 3.7 V for a HCT14500 Li-ion rechargeable battery) to an amount outside the operational voltage range. In some embodiments, the control module 235 can also detect the type of failure that has occurred to a battery cell. For example, the control module 235 can detect that the battery cell B1 has failed such that it functions as an open circuit, or has failed such that it functions as a short circuit.

    [0029] In the event that a battery cell failure is detected by the control module 235, the control module 235 can trigger a protection mechanism to protect the power supply system 200 and the load device (not shown in FIG. 2) that is coupled to the power supply system 200. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the control module 235 can send a signal to a switch S to disconnect the electrode E2 from the battery cells 210. As a result of the switch S disconnecting the electrode E2 from the battery cells, the first power module 230 does not supply power to the electrode E2. Similarly stated, the control module 235 can shut down the first power module 230 such that no output voltage is produced by the first power module 230.

    [0030] In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the second power module 240 includes a diode OR circuit 250 and a boost circuit 245. The diode OR circuit 250 consists of five diodes D1-D5, which connect the battery cells 210 with the boost circuit 245. The diode OR circuit 250 can be used to derive an output voltage from the battery cells 210, which functions as an input to the boost circuit 245. That is, the output voltage of the diode OR circuit 250 (measured at the cathode of diodes D1-D4) is maintained at a level equal to the input voltage (i.e., the highest voltage at the anode of diodes D1-D4) produced by the battery cells 210. In other words, the diode OR circuit 250 can produce an output voltage at the cathode of diodes D1-D4 that is equal to the highest voltage at the positive electrode of battery cells B1-B4. For example, if HCT14500 Li-ion rechargeable batteries are used as battery cells B1-B4 and the battery cells B1-B4 are in a normal operational state with a voltage of approximately 3.7 V, then the output voltage produced by the diode OR circuit 250 can be approximately equal to the voltage at the positive electrode of battery cell B1, which is the sum of the output voltage of battery cells B1-B4. In this example, the output voltage produced at the diode OR circuit can be approximately 14.8 V. In such embodiments, the highest voltage at the positive electrode of battery cells B1-B4 equals to the sum of the output voltage of battery cells B1-B4, regardless of the operational state of the battery cells B1-B4. Particularly, when one or more of the battery cells B1-B4 are not producing an output voltage (e.g., in the event of a battery cell failure), the diode OR circuit 250 can still produce an output voltage that is substantially equal to the sum of the voltage produced by the remaining functional battery cells. For example, if the battery cell B1 fails to produce any output voltage, the diode OR circuit 250 can still produce an output voltage of approximately 11.1 V, substantially equal to the voltage at the positive electrode of battery cell B2, which is the sum of the output voltage from the remaining functional battery cells B2-B4.

    [0031] As shown in FIG. 2, the boost circuit 245 can be electrically coupled with the diode OR circuit 250. The boost circuit 245 can also be electrically coupled with the control module 235 of the first power module 230 through the switch S. The boost circuit 245 can be a boost controller device (e.g., Texas Instruments' TPS40210) that can convert an input voltage supplied from the diode OR circuit 250 to a greater output voltage. The output voltage of the boost circuit 245 can be provided to a load device through electrodes E3 and E1. For example, the boost circuit 245 can convert an input voltage of 11.1 V supplied by the diode OR circuit 250 to an output voltage of 14.8 V and provide the output voltage to a load device through electrodes E3 and E1 (i.e., V3-V1). In some embodiments, the boost circuit 245 can provide an output voltage that is substantially equal to the input voltage. For example, the boost circuit 245 can provide an output voltage substantially equal to an input voltage of 14.8 V that is supplied from four functional HCT14500 Li-ion rechargeable batteries. In such embodiments, the boost function of the boost circuit 245 is not used.

    [0032] In some embodiments, the operation of the boost circuit 245 can be controlled by the operational state of the first power module 230. Specifically, when the first power module 230 is in a normal operational state (e.g., the output voltage V2-V1 is within an operational voltage range), the boost circuit 245 is configured to be inactive. Accordingly, substantially no output voltage is produced from the boost circuit 245 (i.e., voltage V3-V1 is substantially zero). When the first power module 230 is not in the normal operational state (e.g., the output voltage V2-V1 is outside the operational voltage range), the boost circuit 245 is configured to be active. Accordingly, an output voltage V3-V1 is produced from the boost circuit 245 (i.e., voltage V3-V1 is greater than zero).

    [0033] The operational state of the first power module 230 can be determined by various factors. In some embodiments, the power supplied from the battery cells 210 to the first power module 230 can drop due to a battery cell failure and/or a discharge operation. As a result, the output voltage V2-V1 of the first power module 230 can drop from an amount within the operational range to an amount below the operational range. In some other embodiments, in the event of a failure at the battery cells 210 (e.g., a battery cell failure) and/or at the first power module 230 (e.g., a circuitry failure), the electrode E2 can be disconnected from the battery cells 210, and/or the first power module 230 can be inactivated or shut down. As a result, the output voltage V2-V1 can change from an amount within the operational range to substantially zero. In some other embodiments, a circuitry failure in the control module 235 can cause the first power module 230 to function abnormally, causing the output voltage V2-V1 to change from an amount within the operational range to an amount outside the operational range. In such embodiments, the battery cells 210 can still be in a normal operational state, but the first power module 230 can electrically decouple the electrode E2 from the battery cells 210.

    [0034] In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the boost circuit 245 can be electrically coupled to the electrode E2 and can monitor the output voltage V2-V1 of the first power module 230. As described herein, in the event of a discharge operation, a battery cell failure at the battery cells 210, and/or a circuitry failure at the first power module 230, the output voltage V2-V1 can drop from an amount within the operational range to an amount below the operational range. The boost circuit 245 can detect such a change in the output voltage V2-V1 (i.e., by monitoring electrode E2), and as a result, the boost circuit 245 can be activated.

    [0035] In another embodiment, upon detecting that the output voltage V2-V1 of the first power module 230 has changed from an amount within the operational range to an amount outside the operational range, the control module 235 can send a signal to the switch S to disconnect the electrode E2 from the battery cells 210. The control module 235 can also actively send a signal to the boost circuit 245 to activate the boost circuit 245. In still another embodiment, upon a person (e.g., a device operator) detecting that the output voltage of the first power module 230 has changed from an amount within the operational range to an amount outside the operational range, the person can manually disconnect electrode E2 from the battery cells 210, and/or manually inactivate or shut down the first power module 230. The person can also manually activate the boost circuit 245.

    [0036] After the boost circuit 245 is activated, the output voltage of the boost circuit 245 (i.e., V3-V1) can be supplied to the load device (not shown in FIG. 2) through electrodes E3 and E1. In some embodiments, the load device can be electrically connected to the electrode E3 after it is disconnected from the electrode E2.

    [0037] FIG. 3 is a state transition diagram illustrating operational states of the power supply system 200 in FIG. 2. In some embodiments, the power supply system 200 can be in one of two operational states: a normal state 310 and a backup state 320. The operational state of the power supply system 200 can be determined by the output voltage of the first power module 230, V2-V1. Specifically, the power supply system 200 is in the normal state 310 when the output voltage V2-V1 is within a predetermined operational range. The power supply system 200 is in the backup state 320 when the output voltage V2-V1 is outside the operational range. Furthermore, when the output voltage V2-V1 changes from an amount within the operational range to an amount outside the operational range, the power supply system 200 can change from the normal state 310 to the backup state 320. Similarly, when the output voltage V2-V1 changes from an amount outside the operational range to an amount within the operational range, the power supply system 200 can change from the backup state 320 back to the normal state 310.

    [0038] For example, as illustrated in FIG. 3, the operational range for the output voltage V2-V1 can be defined as any voltage equal to or greater than a predetermined threshold voltage VT. Therefore, when the output voltage V2-V1 is equal to or greater than the threshold voltage VT, the power supply system 200 remains in the normal state 310. Specifically, the first power module 230 supplies the output voltage V2-V1 to a load device through electrodes E2 and E1 when the power supply system 200 is in the normal state 310. Meanwhile, the boost circuit 245 of the second power module 240 is not activated and therefore does not provide an output voltage to the load device when the power supply system 200 is in the normal state 310.

    [0039] When the output voltage V2-V1 drops to an amount lower than the threshold voltage VT due to a change in the battery cells 210 (e.g., a battery cell failure, a discharge operation) and/or in the first power module 230 (e.g., a circuitry failure), the power supply system 200 transitions from the normal state 310 to the backup state 320. For example, if one of the battery cells B1-B4 fails, or the battery cells 210 has discharged for a long period of time (e.g., three days, one week), the output voltage V2-V1 can drop below the threshold voltage VT. For another example, if the electrode E2 is disconnected from the battery cells 210, and/or the first power module 230 is inactivated or shut down, the output voltage V2-V1 can drop below the threshold voltage VT. When the output voltage V2-V1 drops to an amount lower than the threshold voltage VT, the boost circuit 245 of the second power module 240 is activated and provides a backup output voltage V3-V1 to the load device through electrodes E3 and E1. Furthermore, as long as the output voltage V2-V1 remains lower than the threshold voltage VT, the power supply system 200 remains in the backup state 320. That is, the boost circuit 245 remains active, supplying the backup output voltage V3-V1 to the load device.

    [0040] In some embodiments, the power supply system 200 can also transition from the backup state 320 to the normal state 310. As shown in FIG. 3, when the first power module 230 and/or the battery cells 210 change back to a normal operational state (e.g., a failed circuitry is repaired, a failed battery cell is replaced, a pack of rechargeable battery cells are recharged, etc.), the first power module 230 can supply power to the load device. In some embodiments, such a transition can be executed automatically as a result of the change of the operational state of the first power module 230. For example, after a failed battery cell is replaced with a functional battery cell, the control module 235 can detect that the battery cells 210 have returned back to a normal operational state (e.g., the battery cells 210 provide an output voltage within the operational voltage range). For another example, after a pack of rechargeable battery cells are recharged to a voltage such that the output voltage of the battery cells 210 reaches the threshold voltage VT, the control module 235 can detect that the battery cells 210 have returned back to a normal operational state. As a result, the control module 235 can send a signal to the switch S to reconnect electrode E2 with the battery cells 210. As such, an output voltage V2-V1 higher than the threshold voltage VT can be produced from the first power module 230. Meanwhile, the boost circuit 245 can detect the change in the output voltage V2-V1. As a result, the boost circuit 245 can be inactivated and stop supplying voltage to the electrode E3. Similarly stated, the output voltage V3-V1 can be substantially zero.

    [0041] In some other embodiments, such a transition can be executed manually by a human operator. For example, after a failed battery cell is replaced with a functional battery cell by a human operator, the human operator can manually inactivate the boost circuit 245 and activate the first power module 230, so that the power supply system 200 can change from the backup state 320 back to the normal state 310.

    [0042] FIG. 4 illustrates the output voltages of the power supply system 200 described in FIG. 2 and FIG. 3. Specifically, FIG. 4 illustrates an example of how the output voltage of the first power module 230 (i.e., V2-V1) and the output voltage of the second power module 240 (i.e., V3-V1) change when the power supply system 200 transitions from the normal state 310 to the backup state 320. As shown in FIG. 4, before time T1, the power supply system 200 is in the normal state 310. The output voltage V2-V1 is substantially equal to a voltage VNormal that is greater than the threshold voltage VT. Additionally, the output voltage V3-V1 is substantially equal to zero. At time T1, a failure occurs at the battery cells 210 (e.g., a battery cell failure) and/or at the first power module 230 (e.g., a circuitry failure). As a result, the output voltage V2-V1 starts to drop. At time T2, the output voltage V2-V1 drops below the threshold voltage VT, which activates the boost circuit 245. Upon activation of the boost circuit 245, the output voltage V3-V1 increases. After the output voltage V3-V1 reaches the voltage VNormal, the boost circuit 245 is stabilized and the output voltage V3-V1 remains substantially equal to VNormal. On the other hand, the first power module 230 reaches a temporal stable state when the output voltage V2-V1 drops to a certain level lower than the threshold voltage VT. The output voltage V2-V1 can remain at that level temporarily. The control module 235 can detect the failure, and respond accordingly. As described herein, in some embodiments, the control module 235 can send a signal to the switch S to disconnect electrode E2 from the battery cells 210. Additionally, the control module 235 can also inactivate or shut down the first power module 230. After a short period of time, at time T3 electrode E2 is disconnected from the battery cells 210, and/or the first power module 230 is inactivated or shut down. As a result, the output voltage V2-V1 drops to substantially zero, and the second power module 240 starts to supply power to the load device through electrodes E1 and E3. Accordingly, the power supply system 200 enters the backup state 320.

    [0043] FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating a method of utilizing a power module (e.g., power module 240 in FIG. 2) of a power supply system (e.g., power supply system 200 in FIG. 2) when an amount of voltage produced by a set of battery cells is outside an operational voltage range, according to an embodiment. At 502, the first power module can receive an indication that at least one battery cell from a set of battery cells arranged to drive a load device via the second power module produces an amount of voltage outside an operational voltage range. The second power module can be configured to provide a first amount of voltage to the load device when each battery cell from the set of battery cells produces an amount of voltage within the operational voltage range. For example, as described in detail with respect to FIG. 2 - FIG. 4, the battery cells 210 can be configured to drive a load device via the power module 230. When each of the battery cells B1-B4 produces an amount of voltage above a certain level, the power module 230 can be configured to provide an output voltage (i.e., V2-V1) above a threshold voltage VT to the load device (e.g., as shown by VNormal in FIG. 4). In the event that the battery cells B1-B4 have discharged for a long period of time, or at least one of the battery cells B1-B4 fails, the output voltage V2-V1 of the power module 230 drops below the threshold voltage VT. The boost circuit 245 of power module 240 can receive such an indication by monitoring the output voltage V2-V1 of the power module 230.

    [0044] At 504, in response to the indication, the first power module can receive a second amount of voltage from the remaining operational battery cells from the set of battery cells. The second amount of voltage is less than the first amount of voltage. For example, as described in detail with respect to FIG. 2 - FIG. 4, the boost circuit 245 of the power module 240 can receive the indication that the output voltage V2-V1 of the power module 230 has dropped below the threshold voltage VT. In response to the indication, the boost circuit 245 can be activated. As a result, the boost circuit 245 can receive a voltage supplied by the remaining functional battery cells of B1-B4 through the diode OR circuit 250. Such a voltage is below the threshold voltage VT, therefore less than the voltage V2-V1 provided by the power module 230 to the load device when each of the battery cells B1-B4 functions properly (e.g., VNormal).

    [0045] At 506, in response to the indication, the first power module can provide a third amount of voltage to the load device using the second amount of voltage from the set of battery cells. The third amount of voltage is substantially equal to the first amount of voltage. For example, as described in detail with respect to FIG. 2 - FIG. 4, in response to the indication that the output voltage V2-V1 of the power module 230 has dropped below the threshold voltage VT, the boost circuit 245 of the power module 240 can be activated. As a result, the boost circuit 245 can convert the voltage provided by the remaining functional battery cells of B1-B4 to an output voltage V3-V1. The output voltage V3-V1 can be substantially equal to the voltage V2-V1 provided by the power module 230 to the load device when each of the battery cells B1-B4 functions properly (e.g., VNormal). Meanwhile, the control module 235 of the power module 230 can be configured to disconnect electrode E2 from the battery cells 210, and/or inactivate or shut down the power module 230. The power module 240 can be used to provide the output voltage V3-V1 to the load device.

    [0046] In another embodiment shown in FIG. 6, a fault tolerant power supply system 600 is shown for maintaining a substantially constant voltage VO across an output terminal TO and a common terminal TC. A load device 620 is coupled across terminal TO and terminal TC. The power supply system 600 comprises a battery cell module 610 including n series-connected batteries B1 - Bn, a controller 635 and a boost network 645. The n batteries are coupled to an input terminal TBI of the boost network 645 by a diode-OR network 650. The n batteries are coupled in series between a first battery terminal TBT and the common terminal TC. The ith battery B; establishes a voltage Vi across a first terminal thereof Ti1 and a second terminal thereof Ti2, wherein 1 ≤ i ≤ n.

    [0047] For battery B1, terminal T1,1 is coupled to common terminal TC. For battery Bn, terminal Tn,2 is coupled to a battery terminal TBT. For battery Bi, terminal Ti,1 is coupled to terminal Ti-1,2, where 1< i <n. For battery Bi, terminal Ti,2 is coupled to terminal Ti+1,1, where 1<i <n, the ith battery Bi is characterized by a voltage Vi, wherein 1 ≤ i ≤ n, and the sum of Vi equals VO when all batteries are in an operative condition. The boost network 645 is coupled between a boost input terminal TBI and a boost output terminal TBO. Terminal TBI is coupled to at least one of the n batteries. The boost network 645 includes a boost circuit responsive to an activation signal representative of a detected battery fault applied to a boost control terminal TBC thereof, to establish a voltage substantially equal to VB + VS at terminal TBO, relative to the potential at terminal TC, wherein VS equals the sum of voltages across the n batteries coupled to terminal TBI, and VB is a boost voltage VB substantially equal to VO - VS. By way of example, the boost network is a Type TPS40210 or TPS40211 4.5-V to 52- V Input Current Boost Mode Controller manufactured by Texas Instruments.

    [0048] The diode-OR network 650 includes n diodes and a base diode. For the n diodes, the ith diode D; has a first terminal TDi,1 and a second terminal TDi,2, wherein 1 ≤ i ≤ n, and wherein for each diode Di, first terminal TDi,1 is coupled to terminal Ti,1, and second terminal TDi,2 is coupled to a boost input terminal TBI. The base diode Dx has a first terminal TDx,1 and a second terminal TDx,2, wherein first terminal TDx,1 is coupled to terminal T1,1 and second terminal TDx,2 is coupled to terminal T1,2.

    [0049] The controller 635 is adapted to detect whether at least one of the n batteries is in an operative condition or in an inoperative condition. The monitoring of the respective batteries is indicated in FIG. 6 by the dash lines between the controller 635 and the respective diodes Di. In response to detection of all n batteries being in an operative condition, the controller 635 couples the voltage at terminal TBT to terminal TO. In response to detection of at least one of the n batteries being in an inoperative condition, The controller 635 generates an activation signal representative of a detected battery fault and applies the activation signal representative of a detected battery fault to the boost control terminal TBC, and thereupon couples the voltage at terminal TBO to terminal TO, and isolates the voltage at terminal TBT from terminal TO. In the form illustrated in FIG. 6, all of the n batteries are coupled to terminal TBI, and terminal TBI is coupled to the n batteries by way of the diode-OR circuit 650.

    [0050] The voltages at terminals TBI and terminal TBT are selectively coupled to the output terminal TO by a switch network 665, which includes two switches, normally closed (NC) switch S1 and normally open (NO) switch S2. The switch network 665 has a battery input terminal TS1 coupled to TBT, a boost input terminal TS2 coupled to terminal TBO, and a switch control terminal TSC. The normally closed (NC) toggle switch S1 is coupled between terminal TS1 and terminal TO, The second, normally open (NO) toggle switch S2 is coupled between terminal TS2 and terminal TO.

    [0051] The controller 635 is adapted to detect whether at least one of said n batteries is in an operative condition or in an inoperative condition. In response to detection by controller 635 of all n batteries being in an operative condition, the controller 635 generates an activation signal representative of no detected battery fault and applies that "no detected battery fault" activation signal to the switch control terminal TSC. In response to that "no detected battery fault" activation signal, switch S2 is controlled to be in its normally open (NO) state thereby isolating the voltage at terminal TBO from terminal TO and switch S1 is controlled to be in its normally closed (NC) state thereby coupling the voltage at terminal TBT to terminal TO.

    [0052] In response to detection by controller 635 of at least one of said n batteries being in an inoperative condition, the controller 635 generates an activation signal representative of a "detected battery fault" and applies that "detected battery fault" activation signal to the boost control terminal TBC and the switch control terminal TSC. In response to that "detected battery fault" activation signal, switch S1 is controlled to be in its open state thereby isolating the voltage at terminal TBT from terminal TO, and switch S2 is controlled to be in its closed state thereby coupling the voltage at terminal TBO to terminal TO.

    [0053] In one form of the fault tolerant power supply:
    1. (i) terminals Ti,1 are all anodes for batteries Bi
    2. (ii) terminals Ti,2 are all cathodes for batteries Bi,
    3. (iii) terminals TDi,1 are all anodes for diodes Di
    4. (iv) terminals TDi,2 are all cathodes for diodes Di,
    5. (v) terminal TDx,1 is an anode for diode Dx, and
    6. (vi) terminal TDx,2 is a cathode for diode Dx.


    [0054] In another form of the fault tolerant power supply:
    1. (i) terminals Ti,1 are all cathodes for batteries Bi
    2. (ii) terminals Ti,2 are all anodes for batteries Bi,
    3. (iii) terminals TDi,1 are all cathodes for diodes Di
    4. (iv) terminals TDi,2 are all anodes for diodes Di,
    5. (v) terminal TDx,1 is a cathode for diode Dx, and
    6. (vi) terminal TDx,2 is an anode for diode Dx.


    [0055] While shown and described above with respect to FIG. 2 as the second power module 240 including a diode OR circuit 250, in other embodiments, other types of logic circuits can be used to derive a voltage from the battery cells 210 and provide the voltage to the boost circuit 245. For example, other types of logic circuits can function as an OR logic gate to produce an output voltage that equals to the highest voltage at the positive electrode of battery cells B1-B4. For example, such an OR logic gate can be a RTL (resistor-transistor logic) OR gate, a DTL (diode-transistor logic) OR gate, or a CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor logic) OR gate, etc. In other embodiments, suitable circuitry, other than an OR logic gate can be used.

    [0056] While shown and described above with respect to FIG. 4 as the second power module 240 starting to supply power to the load device from time T3, in other embodiments, the transition from the first power module 230 to the second power module 240 can occur at another time. In some embodiments, for example, as soon as the output voltage V2-V1 of the first power module 230 drops below the threshold voltage VT (i.e., at time T2 in FIG. 4), the load device can be disconnected from electrode E2 of the first power module 230 and connected to electrode E3 of the second power module 240. In yet other embodiments, for example, the transition can occur as soon as the output voltage V3-V1 of the second power module 240 reaches VNormal (i.e., sometime between time T2 and time T3 in FIG. 4).

    [0057] While shown and described above with respect to FIG. 2 as the power supply system 200 including two power modules (i.e., a first power module 230, a second power module 240), in other embodiments, a power supply system can include more than two power modules. Similarly, depending on the scale of the implementation, a power supply system can include more than one control module, more than one diode OR circuit, more than one boost circuit, more or less than four battery cells, and/or more than one load device, etc. In some embodiments, for example, a power supply system can consist of a number of sub-power supply systems. Each sub-power supply system can include various numbers of power modules that operate on various numbers of battery cells. The output voltages of the sub-power supply systems can be combined to provide power to one or more load devices.

    [0058] As described herein, the control module 235 (FIG. 2), the boost circuit 245 (FIG. 2) and/or other portions of the power supply systems described herein can include hardware, firmware, and/or software (executing in hardware). For example, some embodiments described herein relate to a computer storage product with a non-transitory computer-readable medium (also can be referred to as a non-transitory processor-readable medium) having instructions or computer code thereon for performing various computer-implemented operations. The computer-readable medium (or processor-readable medium) is non-transitory in the sense that it does not include transitory propagating signals per se (e.g., a propagating electromagnetic wave carrying information on a transmission medium such as space or a cable). The media and computer code (also can be referred to as code) may be those designed and constructed for the specific purpose or purposes. Examples of non-transitory computer-readable media include, but are not limited to: magnetic storage media such as hard disks, floppy disks, and magnetic tape; optical storage media such as Compact Disc/Digital Video Discs (CD/DVDs), Compact Disc-Read Only Memories (CD-ROMs), and holographic devices; magneto-optical storage media such as optical disks; carrier wave signal processing modules; and hardware devices that are specially configured to store and execute program code, such as Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), Programmable Logic Devices (PLDs), Read-Only Memory (ROM) and Random-Access Memory (RAM) devices.

    [0059] Examples of computer code include, but are not limited to, micro-code or micro-instructions, machine instructions, such as produced by a compiler, code used to produce a web service, and files containing higher-level instructions that are executed by a computer using an interpreter. For example, embodiments may be implemented using Java, C++, or other programming languages (e.g., object-oriented programming languages) and development tools. Additional examples of computer code include, but are not limited to, control signals, encrypted code, and compressed code.

    [0060] While various embodiments have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, not limitation, and various changes in form and details may be made. Any portion of the apparatus and/or methods described herein may be combined in any combination, except mutually exclusive combinations. The embodiments described herein can include various combinations and/or sub-combinations of the functions, components and/or features of the different embodiments described. Where methods described above indicate certain events occurring in certain order, the ordering of certain events may be modified. Additionally, certain of the events may be performed concurrently in a parallel process when possible, as well as performed sequentially as described above


    Claims

    1. A system, comprising: a first power module (130, 230) configured to be electrically coupled to a plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) that produce a first amount of voltage when no failure is detected in a first operational state and a second amount of voltage less than the first amount of voltage when in a second operational state in which a failure is detected, the first power module (130, 230) configured to provide a third amount of voltage to a load device (120) by electrically coupling the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) to the load device (120) when the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) returns to the first operational state, the third amount of voltage is substantially equal to the first amount of voltage; and
    a second power module (140, 240) including a voltage boost circuit (245) being coupled with an individual diode (D) to each connection between the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210), the voltage boost circuit (245) being configured to provide a fourth amount of voltage to the load (120) when the plurality of battery cells (110, 210) is in the second operational state, the fourth amount of voltage is substantially equal to the first amount of voltage.
     
    2. The system of claim 1, wherein the first power module (130, 230) does not electrically couple the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) to the load device (120) when the plurality of battery cells is in the second operational state, preferably wherein at least one battery cell from the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) produces an amount of voltage less than a voltage threshold when the serially coupled plurality of battery cells (110, 210) is in the second operational state and wherein each battery cell from the plurality of battery cells (110, 210) produces an amount of voltage greater than a voltage threshold when the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) is in the first operational state.
     
    3. The system of claim 1, wherein the second power module (140, 240) monitors an output voltage of the first power module (130, 230) to determine when the plurality of battery cells (110, 210) has changed from the first operational state to the second operational state.
     
    4. The system 1, wherein the second power module (140, 240) does not supply the fourth amount of voltage to the load device (120) when the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) is in the first operational state, preferably wherein each battery cell from the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) is electrically coupled in series with the remaining battery cells from the plurality of battery cells (110, 210) when the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) is in the first operational state.
     
    5. A method, comprising, receiving, at a first power module (130, 230), an indication that at least one battery cell from a plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) arranged to drive a load device (120) via a second power module (140, 240) produces an amount of voltage outside an operational voltage range, the second power module (140, 240) configured to provide a first amount of voltage to the load device (120) when each battery cell from the plurality of battery cells produces an amount of voltage within the operational voltage range, and the second power module (140, 240) including a voltage boost circuit (245) being coupled with an individual diode (D) to each connection between the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210);
    receiving, at the first power module (130, 230) and in response to the indication, a second amount of voltage from the plurality of battery cells (110, 210), the second amount of voltage being less than the first amount of voltage; and
    providing, using the first power module (130, 230) and in response to the indication, a third amount of voltage to the load device (120) using the second amount of voltage from the plurality of battery cells (110, 210), the third amount of voltage being substantially equal to the first amount voltage;
    wherein the voltage boost circuit (245) is configured to provide a fourth amount of voltage to the load device (120) when the at least one battery cell from the plurality of battery cells (110, 210) produces the amount of voltage outside the operational voltage range, the fourth amount of voltage being substantially equal to the first amount of voltage.
     
    6. The method of claim 5, wherein the first power module (130, 230) includes a diode OR circuit and a voltage boost circuit.
     
    7. The method of claim 5, further comprising: determining, in response to the indication, whether an output voltage of the second module (140, 240) is less than a predetermined voltage threshold.
     
    8. The method of claim 5, wherein each battery cell from the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) is electrically coupled in series with the remaining battery cells from the plurality of battery cells (110, 210).
     
    9. The system of claim 1, wherein the second power module (140, 240) is electrically coupled to the first power module (130, 230).
     
    10. The system of claim 9, wherein the first power module (130, 230) is configured to provide substantially no voltage to the load device (120) when the at least one battery cell from the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) is not operational.
     
    11. The system of claim 9, wherein the second power module (140, 240) is configured to provide substantially no voltage to the load device (120) when each battery cell from the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) is operational, preferably wherein the second power module (140, 240) is configured to monitor a voltage provided to the load device (120) by the first power module (130, 230) to determine if the at least one battery cell from the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) produces the amount of voltage outside the operational voltage range.
     
    12. The system of claim 9, wherein each battery cell from the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210) is electrically coupled in series with the remaining battery cells from the plurality of serially coupled battery cells (110, 210).
     


    Ansprüche

    1. System, umfassend: ein erstes Leistungsmodul (130, 230), das konfiguriert ist, um mit einer Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) elektrisch gekoppelt zu sein, die eine erste Spannungsmenge erzeugen, wenn in einem ersten Betriebszustand kein Ausfall detektiert wird, und eine zweite Spannungsmenge erzeugen, die kleiner als die erste Spannungsmenge ist, wenn in einem zweiten Betriebszustand, in dem ein Ausfall detektiert wird, das erste Leistungsmodul (130, 230) konfiguriert ist, um einer Lastvorrichtung (120) eine dritte Spannungsmenge bereitzustellen, indem es die Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) elektrisch mit der Lastvorrichtung (120) koppelt, wenn die Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) in den ersten Betriebszustand zurückkehrt, wobei die dritte Spannungsmenge im Wesentlichen gleich der ersten Spannungsmenge ist; und
    ein zweites Leistungsmodul (140, 240), das einen Spannungserhöhungsstromkreis (245), enthält, der mit einer individuellen Diode (D) mit jedem Anschluss zwischen der Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) gekoppelt ist, wobei der Spannungserhöhungsstromkreis (245) konfiguriert ist, um der Lastvorrichtung (120) eine vierte Spannungsmenge bereitzustellen, wenn die Vielzahl von Batteriezellen (110, 210) im zweiten Betriebszustand ist, wobei die vierte Spannungsmenge im Wesentlichen gleich der ersten Spannungsmenge ist.
     
    2. System nach Anspruch 1, wobei das erste Leistungsmodul (130, 230) die Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) mit der Lastvorrichtung (120) nicht elektrisch koppelt, wenn die Vielzahl von Batteriezellen im zweiten Betriebszustand ist, vorzugsweise wobei mindestens eine Batteriezelle aus der Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) eine Spannungsmenge erzeugt, die unter einem Spannungsschwellwert liegt, wenn die in Reihe gekoppelte Vielzahl von Batteriezellen (110, 210) im zweiten Betriebszustand ist, und wobei jede Batteriezelle aus der Vielzahl von Batteriezellen (110, 210) eine Spannungsmenge erzeugt, die größer als ein Spannungsschwellwert ist, wenn die Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) im ersten Betriebszustand ist.
     
    3. System nach Anspruch 1, wobei das zweite Leistungsmodul (140, 240) eine Ausgangsspannung des ersten Leistungsmoduls (130, 230) überwacht, um zu bestimmen, wann die Vielzahl von Batteriezellen (110, 210) vom ersten Betriebszustand zum zweiten Betriebszustand gewechselt hat.
     
    4. System 1, wobei das zweite Leistungsmodul (140, 240) die vierte Spannungsmenge der Lastvorrichtung (120) nicht zuführt, wenn die Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) im ersten Betriebszustand ist, vorzugsweise wobei jede Batteriezelle aus der Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) mit den verbleibenden Batteriezellen aus der Vielzahl von Batteriezellen (110, 210) elektrisch in Reihe gekoppelt ist, wenn die Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) im ersten Betriebszustand ist.
     
    5. Verfahren, umfassend Empfangen, an einem ersten Leistungsmodul (130, 230) einer Anzeige, dass mindestens eine Batteriezelle aus einer Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210), die angeordnet sind, um eine Lastvorrichtung (120) über ein zweites Leistungsmodul (140, 240) anzutreiben, eine Spannungsmenge außerhalb eines Betriebsspannungsbereichs erzeugt, das zweite Leistungsmodul (140, 240) konfiguriert ist, um eine erste Spannungsmenge an die Lastvorrichtung (120) bereitzustellen, wenn jede Batteriezelle aus der Vielzahl von Batteriezellen eine Spannungsmenge innerhalb des Betriebsspannungsbereichs erzeugt, und das zweite Leistungsmodul (140, 240), das einen Spannungserhöhungsstromkreis (245) enthält, mit einer individuellen Diode (D) mit jedem Anschluss zwischen der Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) gekoppelt ist;
    Empfangen, am ersten Leistungsmodul (130, 230) und in Reaktion auf die Anzeige, einer zweiten Spannungsmenge von der Vielzahl von Batteriezellen (110, 210), wobei die zweite Spannungsmenge kleiner als die erste Spannungsmenge ist; und
    Bereitstellen, mithilfe des ersten Leistungsmoduls (130, 230) und in Reaktion auf die Anzeige, einer dritten Spannungsmenge an die Lastvorrichtung (120) mithilfe der zweiten Spannungsmenge von der Vielzahl von Batteriezellen (110, 210), wobei die dritte Spannungsmenge im Wesentlichen gleich der ersten Spannungsmenge ist; wobei der Spannungserhöhungsstromkreis (245) konfiguriert ist, um der Lastvorrichtung (120) eine vierte Spannungsmenge bereitzustellen, wenn die mindestens eine Batteriezelle aus der Vielzahl von Batteriezellen (110, 210) die Spannungsmenge außerhalb des Betriebsspannungsbereichs erzeugt, wobei die vierte Spannungsmenge im Wesentlichen gleich der ersten Spannungsmenge ist.
     
    6. Verfahren nach Anspruch 5, wobei das erste Leistungsmodul (130, 230) einen Dioden-OR-Stromkreis und einen Spannungserhöhungsstromkreis enthält.
     
    7. Verfahren nach Anspruch 5, ferner umfassend: Bestimmen, in Reaktion auf die Anzeige, ob eine Ausgangsspannung des zweiten Moduls (140, 240) kleiner als ein vorgegebener Spannungsschwellwert ist.
     
    8. Verfahren nach Anspruch 5, wobei jede Batteriezelle aus der Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) mit den verbleibenden Batteriezellen aus der Vielzahl von Batteriezellen (110, 210) elektrisch in Reihe gekoppelt ist.
     
    9. System nach Anspruch 1, wobei das zweite Leistungsmodul (140, 240) mit dem ersten Leistungsmodul (130, 230) elektrisch gekoppelt ist.
     
    10. System nach Anspruch 9, wobei das erste Leistungsmodul (130, 230) konfiguriert ist, um der Lastvorrichtung (120) im Wesentlichen keine Spannung bereitzustellen, wenn die mindestens eine Batteriezelle aus der Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) nicht betriebsbereit ist.
     
    11. System nach Anspruch 9, wobei das zweite Leistungsmodul (140, 240) konfiguriert ist, um der Lastvorrichtung (120) im Wesentlichen keine Spannung bereitzustellen, wenn jede Batteriezelle aus der Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) betriebsbereit ist, vorzugsweise wobei das zweite Leistungsmodul (140, 240) konfiguriert ist, um eine der Lastvorrichtung (120) vom ersten Leistungsmodul (130, 230) bereitgestellte Spannung zu überwachen, um zu bestimmen, ob die mindestens eine Batteriezelle aus der Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) die Spannungsmenge außerhalb des Betriebsspannungsbereichs erzeugt.
     
    12. System nach Anspruch 9, wobei jede Batteriezelle aus der Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) mit den verbleibenden Batteriezellen aus der Vielzahl von in Reihe gekoppelten Batteriezellen (110, 210) elektrisch in Reihe gekoppelt ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système comprenant : un premier module d'alimentation (130, 230) configuré pour être couplé électriquement à une pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) produisant une première quantité de tension, lorsqu'aucune défaillance n'est détectée dans un premier état opérationnel, et une deuxième quantité de tension inférieure à la première quantité de tension lorsqu'il se trouve dans un deuxième état opérationnel dans lequel une défaillance est détectée, le premier module d'alimentation (130, 230) étant configuré pour fournir une troisième quantité de tension à un dispositif de charge (120) en couplant électriquement la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) au dispositif de charge (120) lorsque la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) repasse au premier état opérationnel, la troisième quantité de tension étant substantiellement égale à la première quantité de tension ; et
    un deuxième module d'alimentation (140, 240) comprenant un circuit de surtension (245) couplé à une diode individuelle (D) à chaque connexion entre la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210), le circuit de surtension (245) étant configuré pour fournir une quatrième quantité de tension à la charge (120) lorsque la pluralité de cellules de batterie (110, 210) se trouve dans le deuxième état opérationnel, la quatrième quantité de tension étant substantiellement égale à la première quantité de tension.
     
    2. Système selon la revendication 1, le premier module d'alimentation (130, 230) ne couplant pas électriquement la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) au dispositif de charge (120) lorsque la pluralité de cellules de batterie se trouve dans le deuxième état opérationnel, de préférence au moins une cellule de batterie de la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) produisant une quantité de tension inférieure à une tension de seuil lorsque la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) se trouve dans le deuxième état opérationnel, et chaque cellule de batterie de la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) produisant une quantité de tension supérieure à une tension de seuil lorsque la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) se trouve dans le premier état opérationnel.
     
    3. Système selon la revendication 1, le deuxième module d'alimentation (140, 240) contrôlant une tension de sortie du premier module d'alimentation (130, 230) pour déterminer quand la pluralité de cellules de batterie (110, 210) est passée du premier état opérationnel au deuxième état opérationnel.
     
    4. Système 1, le deuxième module d'alimentation (140, 240) ne fournissant pas la quatrième quantité de tension au dispositif de charge (120) lorsque la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) se trouve dans le premier état opérationnel, de préférence chaque cellule de batterie de la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) étant couplée électriquement en série aux cellules de batterie restantes de la pluralité de cellules de batterie (110, 210) lorsque pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) se trouve dans le premier état opérationnel.
     
    5. Méthode comprenant la réception, sur un premier module d'alimentation (130, 230), d'une indication d'après laquelle au moins une cellule de batterie d'une pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210), agencée pour entraîner un dispositif de charge (120) via un deuxième module d'alimentation (140, 240), produit une quantité de tension extérieure à une plage de tensions opérationnelles, le deuxième module d'alimentation (140, 240) étant configuré pour fournir une première quantité de tension au dispositif de charge (120) lorsque chaque cellule de batterie de la pluralité de cellules de batterie produit une quantité de tension comprise dans la plage de tensions opérationnelles, et le deuxième module d'alimentation (140, 240) comprenant un circuit de surtension (245) couplé à une diode individuelle (D) à chaque connexion entre la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) ;
    la réception, au premier module d'alimentation (130, 230), et en réponse à l'indication, d'une deuxième quantité de tension de la pluralité de cellules de batterie (110, 210), la deuxième quantité de tension étant inférieure à la première quantité de tension ; et
    la fourniture, en utilisant le premier module d'alimentation (130, 230), et en réponse à l'indication, d'une troisième quantité de tension au dispositif de charge (120) en utilisant la deuxième quantité de tension de la pluralité de cellules de batterie (110, 210), la troisième quantité de tension étant substantiellement égale à la première quantité de tension ; le circuit de surtension (245) étant configuré pour fournir une quatrième quantité de tension au dispositif de charge (120) lorsque l'au moins une cellule de batterie de la pluralité de cellules de batterie (110, 210) produit la quantité de tension extérieure à la plage de tensions opérationnelles, la quatrième quantité de tension étant substantiellement égale à la première quantité de tension.
     
    6. Méthode selon la revendication 5, le premier module d'alimentation (130, 230) comprenant une circuit OU à diode et un circuit survolteur.
     
    7. Méthode selon la revendication 5, comprenant en outre : la détermination, en réponse à l'indication, si une tension de sortie du deuxième module d'alimentation (140, 240) est inférieure à un seuil de tension prédéterminé.
     
    8. Méthode selon la revendication 5, chaque cellule de batterie de la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) étant couplée électriquement aux cellules de batterie restantes de la pluralité de cellules de batterie (110, 210).
     
    9. Système selon la revendication 1, le deuxième module d'alimentation (140, 240) étant couplé électriquement au premier module d'alimentation (130, 230).
     
    10. Système selon la revendication 9, le premier module d'alimentation (130, 230) configuré pour ne fournir substantiellement aucune tension au dispositif de charge (120) lorsque l'au moins une cellule de batterie de la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) n'est pas opérationnelle.
     
    11. Système selon la revendication 9, le deuxième module d'alimentation (140, 240) étant configuré pour ne fournir substantiellement aucune tension au dispositif de charge (120) lorsque chaque cellule de batterie de la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) est opérationnelle, de préférence le deuxième module d'alimentation (140, 240) étant configuré pour contrôler une tension fournie au dispositif de charge (120) par le premier module d'alimentation (130, 230) pour déterminer si l'au moins une cellule de batterie de la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) produit la quantité de tension extérieure à la plage de tensions opérationnelles.
     
    12. Système selon la revendication 9, chaque cellule de batterie de la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210) étant couplée électriquement en série avec les cellules de batterie restantes de la pluralité de cellules de batterie couplées en série (110, 210).
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description