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Dokumentenidentifikation EP1391021 15.11.2007
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0001391021
Titel STROMVERSORGUNGSEINRICHTUNG
Anmelder Fireangel Ltd., Coventry, GB
Erfinder RUTTER, Nicholas Alexander, Coventry CV1 2TT, GB;
HART, Stuart, Coventry CV1 2TT, GB
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
DE-Aktenzeichen 60222767
Vertragsstaaten AT, BE, CH, CY, DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, IE, IT, LI, LU, MC, NL, PT, SE, TR
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 07.05.2002
EP-Aktenzeichen 027244540
WO-Anmeldetag 07.05.2002
PCT-Aktenzeichen PCT/GB02/02090
WO-Veröffentlichungsnummer 2002091542
WO-Veröffentlichungsdatum 14.11.2002
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 25.02.2004
EP date of grant 03.10.2007
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 15.11.2007
IPC-Hauptklasse H02H 9/04(2006.01)A, F, I, 20051017, B, H, EP
IPC-Nebenklasse H02J 7/00(2006.01)A, L, I, 20051017, B, H, EP   

Beschreibung[en]

The present invention relates to a power supply and particularly, but not exclusively, to a rechargeable power supply for powering electronic equipment.

Rechargeable power supplies generally consist of a number of rechargeable batteries or cells arranged in series, in parallel or in a series/parallel combination. It is common to provide Zener diodes connected in parallel across each cell to prevent the recharging voltage supplied to the cell from exceeding a predetermined level, which could result in damage to the cell, and to allow the power supply to continue to supply power to any connected equipment in the event of one or more of the cells failing in an open circuit condition.

In such an arrangement, the Zener diodes act as voltage regulators whereby if the voltage applied to the cell exceeds a certain level, break down of the Zener diode will occur causing current to leak through the Zener diode in the reverse direction. As the applied voltage increases the-current leaking through the Zener diode also increases. This has the effect of clamping the voltage over the cell to a predetermined level.

To ensure that the cell is not subjected to a voltage higher than its maxi-mum rating, the Zener diode used must be capable of leaking a reverse current which is at least equal to the charging current of the power supply at a voltage which is less than or equal to the cell's maximum voltage rating. However, Zener diodes generally do not have a stepped on-off break down characteristic and thus permit leakage current through the diode, to greater or lesser extent, over a range of voltages. Thus, a Zener diode having a 2.5 mA leakage current at a breakover voltage of 3.3 V may still permit 50% of that current to pass through at an applied reverse-biased voltage of 3.2 volts. Consequently, once the power supply is fully charged and the charging current removed, the leakage current through the Zener diodes will continue until the voltage over the cell has been reduced to a point where the Zener diode has negligible leakage current. During this time, the leakage current through the Zener diode will cause discharging of the cell.

Since rechargeable cells are effective for only a limited number of charge/discharge cycles, this number usually being a function of the percentage depth of each cycle, the discharge effect of the Zener diode on the cell means that the potential life of the cell, and therefore power supply as a whole, is significantly reduced, both in terms of each charge/discharge cycle and the overall life of the power supply. This is a particular problem in low power applications (for example smoke detectors/alarms), where the leakage current through the Zener diodes is often a high multiple of the supply current required to power the equipment. This has the effect of reducing the life of the rechargeable power supply to a fraction of its potential life.

The prior art document WO 99/39400 discloses a protection circuit for a rechargeable cell, which comprises a voltage detector for detecting the voltage on the supply line, and for closing a switch when the voltage rises to a predetermined threshold or above.

However, when the battery is fully charged, and the charging voltage is removed, the voltage detector still senses the battery voltage and the switch is maintained in the closed state until the battery voltage drops below the threshold, regardless of the presence or absence of an applied charging voltage. Hence, the switch remains connected even when the power rail is de-energised. Where reverse leakage occurs from the cell, the recharge frequency is inevitably increased significantly and hence, the lifetime of the cell is reduced.

The present invention seeks to provide an improved power supply having reduced reverse leakage current from a fully charged cell.

Accordingly, the present invention provides a rechargeable power supply comprising:

  • a rechargeable cell connectable to a power source;
  • voltage protection means connected to said cell; and
  • disconnecting means for selectively disconnecting said voltage protection means from said cell thereby to reduce any discharge of said cell through said voltage protection means, wherein said disconnecting means is operable for disconnection of said voltage protection means from said cell, whenever said power source is de-energised.

The present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

  • Figure 1 is an electrical circuit diagram of a first form of power supply according to the invention;
  • Figure 2 is an electrical circuit diagram of a second form of power supply according to the invention;
  • Figure 3 is an electrical circuit diagram of a third form of power supply according to the invention; and
  • Figure 4 is an electrical circuit diagram of a fourth form of power supply according to the invention.

Referring to Figure 1, a preferred-form of power supply according to the invention is shown generally at 10. The power supply 10 comprises a single battery or cell 12, the positive terminal of the cell 12 being connected to a power source or charging current source in the form of a power rail 14 via a diode 15 and a parallel combination of a resistor 16 and a Schottky diode 18. The negative terminal of the cell 12 is connected to the earth or zero volt rail 17 of the charging current source.

The cell 12 has a series combination of voltage protection means, in the form of a Zener diode 20, and disconnecting means, in the form of a field effect transistor (FET) 22 connected in parallel across the cell 12. The Zener diode 20 is connected across the cell 12 in a reverse biased direction, i.e. with its cathode connected to the positive terminal of the cell 12. The anode of the Zener diode 20 is connected to the drain electrode of the FET 22 whilst the source electrode of the FET 22 is connected to the negative terminal of the cell 12.

It will be appreciated that any electrically equivalent connection of the Zener diode and FET, for example with the anode of the Zener diode being connected to the negative terminal of the cell 12, the cathode of the Zener diode being connected to the source of the FET and the drain of the FET being connected to the positive terminal of the cell, will function equally well.

The gate electrode of the FET 22 is connected directly to the power rail 14 of the charging current source.

In operation, when a voltage is applied to the power rail 14 of the charging current source, thereby to charge the cell, current flows through the diode 15 and resistor 16 and through the cell 12 to earth. The purpose of the resistor 16 is to limit the current through the cell to a value appropriate for charging the cell. At the same time, the voltage on the power rail 14 is applied to the gate electrode of the FET 22 which is thereby switched on. This connects the Zener diode 20 across the cell 12.

As the cell 12 is charged, the voltage across the cell rises. If the voltage across the cell 12, and thus across the Zener diode 20, rises above the breakover voltage of the Zener diode 20, the Zener diode 20 will break down and begin to conduct leakage current therethrough. The flow of leakage current through the Zener diode 20 prevents the voltage across the cell 12 from rising further and thus the voltage is effectively clamped at or around the breakover voltage of the Zener diode. It is normal, therefore, for the breakover voltage of the Zener diode to be chosen to correspond substantially to the maximum voltage rating of the cell. It will be appreciated, therefore, that the presence of the Zener diode prevents overcharging of the cell 12.

When the cell is sufficiently charged and the voltage on the power rail 14 from the charging current source is switched off, current flows from the charged cell 12 through the Schottky diode 18 to the power rail 14 and out to any connected electronic equipment or circuit. Current is prevented from returning to the charging current source by the diode 15. The Schottky diode 18 is included to provide a low impedance path between the cell 12 and the connected equipment or circuit. However, it is not essential to the invention and its inclusion is entirely optional.

As described above, however, with the Zener diode 20 connected across the cell 12, leakage current will continue to flow through the Zener diode 20 thus gradually discharging the cell 12, possibly at a rate greater than that caused by the electronic equipment itself. To prevent this, therefore, when the voltage on the power rail 14 from the charge current source is switched off, the voltage applied to the gate electrode of the FET 22 is reduced to zero such that the FET 22 is switched off and presents an open circuit. The Zener diode 20 is therefore effectively disconnected from the cell 12 and thus no leakage current can flow therethrough. All current from the cell 12 is thus applied to the electronic equipment or circuit and any unwanted discharging to the Zener diode 20 is effectively eliminated.

Figure 2 illustrates a similar arrangement but where the power supply comprises three, series-connected cells 12 , hereafter termed collectively as the "battery". In this embodiment, each cell 12 in the battery has a Zener diode 20 connected in parallel with it and a FET 22 connected in series with the Zener diode. It is clear from the drawings that the arrangement within the dashed box 10 in Figure 1 is repeated for each cell in the battery of Figure 2.

In this embodiment, when the voltage across any one of the cells 12 in the battery exceeds the breakover voltage of the cell's respective Zener diode 20, leakage current will be passed through the Zener diode and prevent the voltage on the cell from rising further.

In Figure 3, the power supply is shown having a different arrangement of cells 12. In this case, the battery is comprised of 4 cells 12 in a two by two, series-parallel arrangement. Each pair of parallel connected cells 12 is provided with a respective Zener diode 20 and FET 22 connected in parallel over the cell pair.

The mode of operation of the embodiment of Figure 3 is similar to that of Figures 1 and 2 in that if the voltage over any one of the cells 12 rises above the breakover voltage of the respective Zener diode 20, then leakage current through the Zener diode will prevent that voltage from rising any further.

In Figure 4, a stepped arrangement of voltage protection is provided. In this embodiment, the battery of the power supply comprises three cells 12a, 12b, 12c connected in series. The series combination of cells 12a and 12b has a first Zener diode 20(i) and FET 22(i) connected in parallel thereover. The series combination of cells 12b and 12c has a second Zener diode 20(ii) and FET 22(ii) connected in parallel thereover while the series combination of all three cells 12a, 12b, 12c have a third Zener diode 20(iii) and FET 22(iii) connected in parallel thereover.

As will be clearly understood by those skilled in the art, if the voltage over the series combination of cells 12a and 12b exceeds the breakover voltage of Zener diode 20(i), then leakage current through Zener diode 20(i) will prevent the voltage over the cells from rising any further. Similarly, if the voltage over cells 12b and 12c exceeds the breakover voltage of Zener diode 20(ii) then leakage current through Zener diode 20(ii) will prevent the voltage over cells 12b and 12c from increasing any further. Finally, if the combined voltage over all three cells exceeds the breakover voltage of Zener diode 20(iii) then this diode will break down and leakage current through Zener diode 20(iii) will prevent the voltage over cells 12a, 12b and 12c from increasing any further.

In all illustrated embodiments, the voltage protection provided by the Zener diodes 20 is only effective when the respective FET 22 connected to the Zener diode is switched on thereby to connect the Zener diode across the respective cell or cells. Each FET is switched on only when the power rail 14 of the charge current source is energised, for example when the cells 12 are being charged. When the power rail 14 is de-energised, each FET 22 will switch off thus disconnecting the respective Zener diode from the respective cell or cells 12, thus preventing any leakage current from passing through the Zener diode and thus avoiding any unwanted discharging of the cell or cells.

It will be appreciated that the present invention allows the safe charging of one or more rechargeable cells and avoids the disadvantageous effects of both overcharging of one or more of the cells and excessive discharging of the cells during normal operation.

It will also be appreciated, however, that a number of modifications may be made to the invention as desired. For example, the Zener diode 20 may be replaced by resistive devices or any other devices which permit a selected level of leakage current to pass therethrough. In addition, the FET's 22 could be replaced by any other form of electronic switches or by any other device which upon energising of the power rail 14, causes the voltage protection means to be connected across one or more of the cells. It is even envisaged that a mechanical arrangement, such as a manually operated switch, may be employed to selectively disconnect the Zener diodes or other voltage protection means from the cell or cells.

It will be clear that the invention is not limited to any particular kind of rechargeable cell which may be, for example, nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) "NICAD" cells, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) cells or any other chemical rechargeable cells or even solid cells (e.g. lithium polymer cells), capacitors or any other type of rechargeable device capable of storing and delivering electrical energy.

It is also possible for the invention easily to be configured for mechanical applications such as fuel cells for gas, liquid or other fuel or pressure containers. In this case the voltage protection means may be replaced by pressure release valves or other such devices.

In order to allow the power supply to operate in the event of an open circuit failure of one or more of the cells, conventional diodes may be permanently connected in parallel across each cell or cell pair to ensure a continuous path around the failed cell or cells. Having negligible reverse leakage current, these diodes will not discharge the power supply in any way. A possible arrangement for such diodes 23 is shown in Figure 3 whilst in Figure 4, each FET 22(i, ii, iii) is provided with an integral diode 24.


Anspruch[de]
Wieder aufladbare Energieversorgung (10), umfassend: wenigstens eine wieder aufladbare Zelle (12), die mit einer Energiequelle (14) verbindbar ist; ein Spannungsschutzmittel (20), welches mit der wenigstens einen Zelle verbunden ist; und ein Trennungsmittel (22) zum selektiven Trennen des Spannungsschutzmittels (20) von der Zelle (12), um dadurch jegliche Entladung der Zelle durch das Spannungsschutzmittel (20) zu verringern; dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass: das Trennungsmittel (22) zur Trennung des Spannungsschutzmittels (20) von der Zelle (12) immer dann, wenn die Energiequelle (14) abgeschaltet wird, betreibbar ist. Energieversorgung nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Spannungsschutzmittel (20) eine Zenerdiode umfasst. Energieversorgung nach Anspruch 1 oder Anspruch 2, wobei das Trennungsmittel (22) ein bipolarer Transistor oder ein FET ist. Energieversorgung nach irgendeinem vorangehenden Anspruch, wobei das Spannungsschutzmittel (20) und das Trennungsmittel (22) zusammen in Reihe geschaltet und gemeinsam über die Zelle parallel geschaltet sind. Energieversorgung nach Anspruch 3 oder Anspruch 4, soweit an den Anspruch 3 angehängt, wobei die Basiselektrode des bipolaren Transistors oder die Gate-Elektrode des FET mit der Energiequelle (14) verbindbar ist, um dadurch das Trennungsmittel zu aktivieren. Energieversorgung nach irgendeinem vorangehenden Anspruch, ferner umfassend wenigstens eine Diode (23, 24), die parallel zu der Zelle (12) oder dem Trennungsmittel (20) geschaltet ist. Energieversorgung nach irgendeinem vorangehenden Anspruch, umfassend eine Batterie, die aus einer Vielzahl von in Reihe, parallel oder Reihen-parallel geschalteten Zellen besteht. Verfahren zum Schützen einer wieder aufladbaren Zelle (12) in einer Energieversorgung (10), umfassend die folgenden Schritte: während einer Wiederaufladung der Zelle, selektives Verbinden eines Spannungsschutzmittels (20) mit der Zelle, um dadurch eine Überladung der Zelle zu verringern oder zu beseitigen; und nach Wiederaufladung der Zelle, selektives Trennen des Spannungsschutzmittels von der Zelle, um dadurch jegliches Entladen der Zelle durch das Spannungsschutzmittel zu verringern oder zu beseitigen; dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass

das Trennungsmittel (22) zur Trennung des Spannungsschutzmittels (20) von der Zelle (12) immer dann, wenn die Energiequelle (14) abgeschaltet wird, betreibbar ist.
Anspruch[en]
A rechargeable power supply (10) comprising;

at least one a rechargeable cell (12) connectable to a power source (14);

voltage protection means (20) connected to said at least one cell; and

disconnecting means (22) for selectively disconnecting said voltage protection means (20) from said cell (12) thereby to reduce any discharge of said cell through said voltage protection means (20);

characterised in that:

said disconnecting means (22) is operable for disconnection of said voltage protection means (20) from said cell (12) whenever said power source (14) is de-energised.
A power supply as claimed in claim 1 wherein said voltage protection means (20) comprises a Zener diode. A power supply as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2 wherein said disconnecting means (22) is a bipolar transistor or FET. A power supply as claimed in any preceding claim wherein said voltage protection means (20) and said disconnecting means (22) are connected together in series and jointly connected across said cell in parallel. A power supply as claimed in claim 3 or claim 4 when appendant to claim 3 wherein the base electrode of the bipolar transistor or the gate electrode of the FET is connectable to said power source (14) thereby to actuate said disconnecting means. A power supply as claimed in any preceding claim further comprising at least one diode (23, 24) connected in parallel with said cell (12) or with said disconnecting means (20). A power supply as claimed in any preceding claim comprising a battery consisting of a plurality of series, parallel or series-parallel connected cells. A method of protecting a rechargeable cell (12) in a power supply (10), the method comprising: during recharging of said cell, selectively connecting voltage protection means (20) to said cell thereby to reduce or eliminate overcharging of said cell; and after recharging of said cell, selectively disconnecting said voltage protection means from said cell thereby to reduce or eliminate any discharging of said cell through said voltage protection means; characterised in that:

said disconnecting means (22) is operable for disconnection of said voltage protection means (20) from said cell (12) whenever said power source (14) is de-energised.
Anspruch[fr]
Alimentation rechargeable (10) comprenant: au moins une cellule rechargeable (12) raccordable à une source d'alimentation (14); un moyen de protection de tension (20) raccordé à ladite au moins une cellule; et un moyen de déconnexion (22) pour déconnecter sélectivement ledit moyen de protection de tension (20) de ladite cellule (12) pour réduire ainsi une décharge quelconque de ladite cellule à travers ledit moyen de protection de tension (20); caractérisé en ce que: ledit moyen de déconnexion (22) est utilisable pour déconnecter ledit moyen de protection de tension (20) de ladite cellule (12) chaque fois que ladite source d'alimentation (14) est mise hors tension. Alimentation selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle ledit moyen de protection de tension (20) comprend une diode Zener. Alimentation selon la revendication 1 ou la revendication 2, dans laquelle ledit moyen de déconnexion (22) est un transistor bipolaire ou FET. Alimentation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans laquelle ledit moyen de protection de tension (20) et ledit moyen de déconnexion (22) sont raccordés ensemble en série et raccordés conjointement à travers ladite cellule en parallèle. Alimentation selon la revendication 3 ou la revendication 4 lorsqu'elle dépend de la revendication 3 dans laquelle l'électrode de base du transistor bipolaire ou l'électrode de grille du FET est raccordable à ladite source d'alimentation (14) pour actionner ainsi ledit moyen de déconnexion. Alimentation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant en outre au moins une diode (23, 24) montée en parallèle avec ladite cellule (12) ou avec ledit moyen de déconnexion (20). Alimentation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant une batterie se composant d'une pluralité de cellules montées en série, en parallèle ou en série-parallèle. Procédé de protection d'une cellule rechargeable (12) dans une alimentation (10), le procédé comprenant: durant la recharge de ladite cellule, la connexion sélective du moyen de protection de tension (20) à ladite cellule pour réduire ainsi ou éliminer une surcharge de ladite cellule; et après recharge de ladite cellule, déconnexion sélective dudit moyen de protection de tension de ladite cellule pour réduire ou éliminer ainsi une décharge quelconque de ladite cellule à travers ledit moyen de protection de tension; caractérisé en ce que: ledit moyen de déconnexion (22) est utilisable pour la déconnexion dudit moyen de protection de tension (20) de ladite cellule (12) chaque fois que ladite source d'alimentation (14) est mise hors tension.






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