LG Chem, the largest Korean chemical company, and STMicroelectronics, one of the world’s leading semiconductor suppliers, are developing new automotive battery packs that combine LG Chem’s lithium ion (Li-ion) battery technology with a battery management chip manufactured by ST.
ST’s battery-management chip is manufactured with the company’s proprietary BCD (Bipolar-CMOS-DMOS) technology, which combines digital logic circuits, precise analog measurement circuits and power-handling transistors in one silicon chip. A Battery Management System with these chips accurately controls the charging and discharging cycles of the battery to enable safe operation and long battery life.
Each chip can handle up to ten Li-ion cells and also includes an interface for communicating with other ST battery-management chips in a system. With this communication capability, as many as 32 battery-management chips can be connected in cascade to manage batteries that deliver up to 1,600V to the electric motors.
BCD, often called smart power, is a semiconductor technology that allows ST to manufacture three fundamental components of electronic circuits on a single low-cost chip—digital logic for high-speed computation, analog circuits for high-precision measurement and control, and power transistors that manage the flow of high electric currents. ST pioneered the technology and subsequently has led the market, with its smart-power products used in high volume applications ranging from printers and fax machines to hard disk drives and the devices that manage the movement of windows and mirrors in cars.
The LG Chem/ST solution reduces the cost and weight and increases the reliability of the Li-ion battery pack, enabling Li-ion technology to address new applications from electric scooters and bicycles to heavy trucks.