Updated: Jun 11, 2020
It determines for number of hours for which the battery can be discharged at a constant current to a defined cutoff voltage. It is represented by the Coulomb SI unit (Amperes per second) but since this unit is usually very small, the Ampere-hour (Ah) unit is used instead (1 Ah represents 3600 C).
The value of this capacity depends on the ambient temperature, the age of the battery, and the discharge rate. The higher the discharge rate, the lower the capacity, although it affects each battery technology differently. Additional to the Ampere-hour unit, the storage capacity can also be defined in Watt-hours (Wh=V x Ah), where 1 Wh represents 3600 J.
The energy density is the amount of energy that can be stored, per cubic meter of battery volume, expressed in Watt-hour per cubic meter (Wh/m3 ). This is a very important parameter to select a specific battery technology for transportation applications, where space availability is critical.
This parameter is defined as the power capacity per kilogram of battery, in W/kg . Some battery technologies offer high energy density but low specific power, which means that even though they can store a large amount of energy, they can only supply a small amount of power instantly. In transportation terms, this would mean that a vehicle could run for a long distance, at low speed. On the contrary, batteries with high specific power usually have low energy density, because high discharge currents usually reduce the available energy rapidly (e.g., high acceleration)
The cell voltage is determined by the equilibrium thermodynamic reactions that take place inside the cell, however, this value is often difficult to measure and therefore, the open circuit voltage (OCV) measured between the anode and cathode terminals is used instead. For some battery technologies (e.g., lead-acid), the OCV can be used as a basic estimate of the state of charge (SoC). Another measure often used is the closed circuit voltage (CCV), which depends on the load current, state of charge, and cell’s usage history. Finally, battery manufacturers provide the nominal voltage value, from the cell’s characterization and therefore, cannot be experimentally verified
Charge and Discharge Current:
During the discharging process in a battery, electrons flow from the anode to the cathode through the load, to provide with the required current and the circuit is completed in the electrolyte. During the charging process, an external source supplies with the charging current and the oxidation takes place at the positive electrode while the reduction takes place at the negative electrode. For practical purposes, the term C-rate is used to express the charge or discharge current relative to the rated capacity. For example, a discharge rate of 1 C means that the battery will be fully discharged in 1 h.
State of Charge:
The state of charge (SoC) defines the amount of stored energy relative to the total energy storage capacity of the battery. Depending on the battery technology, different methods are used to estimate this value.
Depth of Discharge:
Often referred to as DoD(in %), this parameter expresses the battery capacity that has been discharged relative to the maximum capacity. Each battery technology supports different maximum recommended levels of DoD to minimize its impact on the overall cycle life.
The cycle life determines the number of charge/discharge cycles that the battery can experience before it reaches a predetermined energy capacity or other performance criteria. The current rate at which the battery is charged/discharged as well as environmental conditions (e.g., temperature and humidity) and the DoD can affect this number, since it is originally calculated by the manufacturer based on specific charge and discharge conditions.
This parameter defines the reduction in energy capacity of the battery under no-load conditions (e.g., open circuit), as a result of internal short-circuits and chemical reactions. This parameter can be affected by environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity, as well as the DoD and the battery’s charge/discharge history. Additionally, this parameter is particularly important for long-term shelf storage of batteries.
Due to internal losses and material degradation, not all the energy supplied to the battery during charging can be recovered during discharge. The amount of energy that can be taken from the battery during the discharging process over the energy supplied determines the round-trip efficiency. This efficiency is sensitive to the charging and discharging currents. At higher currents, thermal losses increase and therefore the efficiency is reduced