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17th IEEE International Conference on Control Applications

Part of 2008 IEEE Multi-conference on Systems and Control


San Antonio, Texas, USA, September 3-5, 2008

WeA04.1

On battery State of Charge estimation: a new mixed algorithm.


Fabio Codec*, Sergio M. Savaresi*, Giorgio Rizzoni**
*Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione, Politecnico di Milano Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, 32, 20133 Milano, ITALY
**Center for Automotive Research, Ohio State University ,930 Kinnear Road, 43212, Columbus, OHIO
Abstract A new SoC estimation algorithm is presented.
The estimation is performed mixing the Coulomb-Counting
and the Model-Based estimation approaches. The algorithm
was tested on a brand new lithium-ion cell which use a
nanoscale technology able to grant a more powerful and
safer lithiumion battery than the batteries currently on the
market. The cell, called A123-M1, was first characterized
and then identified. The cell was identified with a equivalent
electrical circuits model which is usually called 2th Randle
model: the used test-bench and the identification process are
described. Then the SoC estimation problem is described. A
briefly review of the state of art of SoC estimation is given
and the drawbacks of the methods which are usually used
are presented. Finally the new mixed estimation algorithm is
described: the algorithm scheme and the results are shown.

I. INTRODUCTION

N the automotive field, hybrid and electric vehicles are


getting more and more attention mainly for the pollution
problem and the increase of the oil cost. One of the
challenges in this area is related to the batteries, which are
the key elements for this vehicles.
The most promising chemistry/technology today is the
lithium-ion one. This kind of batteries are deeply diffused
in the laptop and cell phone market, but they have still
some difficulties to be accepted in the automotive market.
Compared to the lead-acid and nickel batteries, they
achieve higher value of power and energy, but they
require a management system with an higher complexity,
mainly because the lithium is instable and, if it is not
controlled, it can easily explode.
Different lithium technologies are available on the
market: each technology tries to increase the battery
performance and safety working mainly on the electrodes
and materials. The estimation algorithm described in this
paper was tested on a lithium-cell produced by A123
Systems [2], with uses a brand new technology. This
technology addressed the attention of a lot of automobile
makers because it has improved safety and power
performances.
Two research mainstreams can be identified: the first
one is related to the chemistry and the manufacturing
technology, the second one in related to the development
of better management system. The second one can be
partitioned in the design of better electronics and the
development of better algorithms used to estimate the
internal battery property (SoC, SoH, ageing, etc).
This work is related to the second research mainstream,
in particular on the estimation of the battery capacity,
which is one of the most important parameter a Battery

978-1-4244-2223-4/08/$25.00 2008 IEEE.

102

Management System (BMS) should be able to estimate.


The battery capacity, usually called State Of Charge
(SoC), is directly connected with the energy stored inside
the battery and it is influenced by some external
disturbance: ideally it is strictly connected to the nominal
battery capacity and amps extracted from the battery, but
this relation is often non-linear and influenced by the
temperature.
This paper presents a new SoC estimation algorithm.
The algorithm is based both on the Model-Based
estimation and the Coulomb-Counting estimation: it mixes
them so to keep their good characteristics and to avoid the
disadvantages. There are many different algorithms in
literature claimed to be able to correctly estimate the SoC
([1],[6],[7],[8],[9]) but often they cannot be used in an
Hybrid-Electric-Vehicle (HEV), where the measurements
are noisy and with a lot of flaws. The SoC estimation
algorithm presented in this paper is able to deal with noisy
measures and it does not require a precise initialization.
The paper is so organized. In Section II a briefly
characterization of the cell and its model identification are
presented: a model is required by the algorithm because it
uses both Coulomb-Counting and Model-Based
estimation. In Section III the state of arts of SoC
estimation is described: advantages and drawbacks are
shown. In Section IV the new mixed algorithm and the
simple algorithms used in it are described. Finally some
conclusion are given.
II. CELL MODEL
A large number of lithium technologies and batteries
are available on the market; one of the most interesting is
the A123-M1 cell (shown in Fig. 1)[2]. It uses the LiFePO4
chemistry, which is inherently much safer than any of the
Cobalt and/or Manganese-based lithium cells[4], and a
patent pending Nanophosphate technology for the
electrode design, which allows these cells to be
discharged/charged at very high rates.
The basic characteristics of this cell are summarized in
Table 1: note that they are rated for 30C continuous
discharge (70A) and over 50C (120A) for up to 10 second
"bursts" (1C is a standard way to represent the current
respects to the cell capacity: in our case 1C is equal to
2.3A). This is one of the big advantages of this cell respect
to the other LiFePO4 cells which have max discharge rates
around 2-3C.

Inspecting the graph, the following remarks can be made:


the A123-M1 cell results to have a very flat voltage
curve, especially in the 10%-90% SoC range;
the Peukerts effect[3] seems to not affect the cell
behavior: the capacities measured at different current
rates are very similar;
we assumed a conventional threshold of 2.6V for 0%
SoC; by using this definition, the real capacity value
of the cell appears to be around 2,23Ah.
3.4

Fig. 1 An A123-M1 cell.

C1
3.3

C2

10m

Maximum continuous
discharge
Pulse discharge at 10sec
Operative temperature range
Cell weight

3.2

2.3 Ah, 3.3V


Cell Voltage [V]

Nominal capacity and


voltage
Internal resistance (10A, DC)

70A
120A

2.8

2.6

-30C to
+60C
70 grams

2.5
100

C3

C1 = 2.3A
C2 = 4.6A
C3 = 6,9A
C4 = 9,2A

90

80

C4

70

60

50

40

30

20

10

SoC [%]

Fig. 3 Capacity tests.

All the tests were performed with a sophisticated test


bench which is shown in Fig. 2. It is based on three main
components:
1. an acquisition board, able to acquire different signals;
2. an electronic programmable load, which is controlled
by the PC;
3. an electronic programmable power supply, which is
controlled to supply current;
4. a PC used to control the overall system.
Three measures are acquired by the system: the voltage,
the current, and the temperature. The test bench is not able
to perform tests at different temperatures: all the test were
performed at ambient temperature.
Acquisition board

Programmable
load

3
2.9

2.7

Table 1 A123-M1 cell characteristics.

Programmable
supply

3.1

Battery cell

Main PC

Fig. 2 Test bench architecture.

To get a preliminary idea of the cell characteristics


some capacity tests were performed. A capacity test is
performed in two phases. First, the cell is charged
accordingly to the standard charge prescribed by the
manufacturer and rested for at least two hours (by this way
we are sure that the battery is 100% charged). Second, it is
discharged with a constant current.
The SOC-Voltage curves are shown in Fig. 3. We tested
the following current values: 1C, 2C, 3C and 4C.

103

There exist a lot of different methods to model a


lithium-ion cell: they can be chemical processes based
([9],[12]), black-box based ([11]), or equivalent electrical
circuits based ([6],[7],[8],[10]). All them present
advantages and disadvantages. We chose to identify the
lithium cell using an equivalent electrical circuit based
model, mainly because it is the most intuitive.
In literature there are different electrical circuit models
for lithium-ion cell ([6],[7],[8],[10]). They are all based on
the following components:
a voltage generator, always SoC dependent and often
temperature dependent;
an internal resistance;
a set of capacitors and resistances to describe the
voltage dynamic;
and differ mainly on the way the voltage generator and
the electrical dynamic are modeled (the first one can or
cannot include an hysteresis and the electrical dynamics
can be explain with a different number of components,
based on the complexity of the dynamic to be described).
To identify the cell model, a current pulse test was
designed and executed on the lithium-ion cell. The test is
basically a discharge, followed by a charge, performed
using a pulsed current: each pulse is designed to discharge
or charge the battery of 10% of SoC, while, after the
pulse, the 0A phase is designed to understand how the cell
rests (in Fig. 4 the typical current profile and the cell
voltage response are shown). The test was designed to
discharge the battery down to 0-5% of SoC and then to
charge the cell up to 90%.
Before every execution of the test, the cell was charged
with the standard protocol described by the manufacturer
and then rested for at least two hours: the cell is then
considered completely charged (100% of SOC value).

3
Measured current
Required current

Current [A]

1
0

3.

-1
-2
-3

4
time [hour]

measured after the 0A phase of the pulse tests; no


relevant differences were found between the values
collected during charge and discharge then no
hysteresis was modeled;
all the tests could only be performed at ambient
temperature, so the model has to be used only in this
situation.

Volt [V]

3.5

R0
K

0.07
-0.047288

K1

597.56

K2

32.668

K3

1996.7

Table 2 Model parameters.


2.5

measured voltage
2

4
Time [hour]

Fig. 4 Current profile and voltage response in a discharge/charge pulse


test.

Furthermore, the pulse test was performed with


different current values, so to understand the dependency
of the model components to the current values. We used
the same current values used for the capacity tests.

measured data
simulated data

3.8

R0

3.6

Cell voltage [V]

C1

VOCV (SoC)

R2

R1

V0

The model was validated on a current staircase test.


This test is made by the repetition of two current
staircases, one is in charge and one is in discharge. The
staircases use 1C, 2C, 3C, and 4C current values and are
designed to increase at every repetition the SoC of 5%.
The result of the validation is shown in Fig. 6. The
model is able to catch the cell behavior in a good way: the
max voltage error is equal to 0.04mV while the mean error
is approximately zero.

C2

3.4
3.2
3
2.8

V1

V2

2.6

2.4
45

50

Fig. 5 Lithium cell model.

55
time [minutes]

60

65

Fig. 6 Staircase test validation.

The model which better catches the cell behavior is


shown in Fig. 5. It is commonly called the 2nd-order
Randle model:
the voltage generator (VOCV) models the Open Circuit
Voltage (which is the voltage of the cell when it is
rested) as a function of SoC ;
R0 is the internal resistance;
the other resistances and capacitors are used to model
the cell dynamics.
It can be rewritten in the Laplace-transform domain as:

R1
R2
I
+
V = VOCV (SoC) R0 +
1
+
1
+
sR
C
sR
C
1 1
2 2

(1)
K (1 + sK1 )
I
= VOCV (SoC) R0 I

(1 + sK 2 )(1 + sK3 )
Some notes can be made on the identified components:
1. the model components are not dependant nether on
the current nor on the SoC; the values, accordingly to
notation of Eq. 1, are listed in Table 2;
2. the voltage generator is calculated through an 8th
function of SoC: it was identified using the voltages

104

The model results to be able to catch correctly the cell


behavior in the following SoC range: [20% - 80%]. This
happens because the VOCV in the other range appears to
behave in a highly non-linear way which cannot be
explained by this simple model. This does not represent a
big problem because usually the battery is used in a
smaller range which fits the one in which our model is
working correctly.
III. SOC ESTIMATION: STATE OF THE ART
Since rechargeable batteries have existed, systems able
to give an indication about the State-of-Charge (SoC) of a
battery have been around. The State-of-Charge is
mathematically defined as:
t

Ahnom I (t ) dt
SoC (t ) =

Ahnom

100 .

(2)

Then 0 SoC (t ) 100 , t where:


Ahnom is the nominal cell capacity (in our case is

2.23Ah);
I(t) is the current, which is positive when the cell
is discharged.
Several methods, including those of direct
measurements, book-keeping and adaptive systems are
known in the art of determining the SoC of a cell or a
battery of several cells ([1],[6],[7],[8],[9]). Obviously, an
accurate SoC determination method will improve the
performance and reliability, will ultimately lengthen the
lifetime of the battery and will permit the development of
better algorithm for hybrid and electric vehicle.
In Table 3 a review of literature methods is presented.
Some of them are not feasible in an HEV application,
because they require to disconnect the battery. Some
others, like the one based on voltage measures, are more
suitable in small-power electronic application, where the
required power is usually near to be constant and small. In
such case, a voltage discharge map can be easily used to
estimate the SoC: the drawbacks of this method is that it
requires a long period of constant current (zero current if it
uses an Open-Circuit-Voltage map), which is not common
in an HEV application.
Using neural networks, fuzzy logic and Kalman filter it
is usually possible to have a good SoC estimation: the
drawback is the need of an high computation power,
which is not usually available in an embedded system. The
Coulomb-Counting method (current integration) is still the
most used method and the main information source, since
it provides a simple way to estimate the variation of SoC.
Besides it is impossible, with this method, to have an
initial SoC estimate and any error on the current measure,
most of all offset errors, can highly affect the estimation.

Fuzzy logic

Technique
Discharge
test

Applicatio
n field
Used for
capacity
determinati
on at the
beginning
of life

Coulomb
counting

All battery
systems,
most
application
s

OCV

Lead,
lithium,
Zn/Br
All systems

Impedance
spectroscopy
DC internal
resistance

Lead,
Ni/Cd

Neural
Networks

All battery
systems

Advantages

Drawbacks

Easy and
accurate;
independent
of SOH

Offline, time
intensive, modifies
the battery state, loss
of energy

Accurate if
enough recalibration
points are
available and
with flawless
current
measurement
Online,
cheap, OCV
prediction
Gives
information
about SOH
Gives
information
about SOH
Online

Sensitive to parasite
reactions; needs
regular recalibration
points

Needs long rest time


(current = 0A)
Temperature
sensitive, cost
intensive
Good accuracy only
for a short time
interval
Needs training data
of a similar battery,
expensive to
implement.

105

Kalman
Filters

All battery
systems

Online
Robust

Large amount of
memory in real
world applications
Needs strong
All battery
Accurate
hypothesis on battery
systems,
Flexible
model. Difficult to
even
Online
implement the
strongly
filtering algorithm
dynamic
that considers all
application
features as, e.g., nons (such
normalities and
HEV)
nonlinearities
Table 3 State of art of SoC estimation methods.

IV. SOC ESTIMATION: THE MIX ALGORITHM


The new mixed algorithm uses both the CoulombCounting method and the Model-Based method. Briefly
the Model-Based method is used to dynamically correct
the estimation performed by the Coulomb-Counting. In
order to understand which are the benefits of the new
algorithm, the simpler algorithms and the mixed one
will be shown. All the algorithms were tested on the
staircase test, shown before in Fig. 6 Staircase test
validation.Fig. 6
The Coulomb-Counting method is the easiest method to
estimate the SoC of a cell. The SoC of the battery can be
estimated as:
t

SoC (t ) = SoC (0)

1
I (t )dt
Ahnom 0

(3)

where:
I(t) is the measured current;
SoC(0) is the initial SoC value.
The calculation is very easy and the formulation is
directly connected with the SoC definition shown in Eq. 2.
However it presents some drawbacks:
1. SoC(0) needs to be know or estimated;
2. I(t) is the only signal used; so if the measure has flaws
the estimation will be affected and it will need to be
reset periodically.
The second drawback is the most difficult to deal with. A
lot of reason can cause flaws, especially in an HEV where
a lot of electronic systems are fitted all together.
To get a more clear idea of how the current measure can
be in an HEV environment, in Fig. 7 the measured current
during an experiment made on the A123-M1 cell (charge
at 1C) is shown. The current is measured with a standard
current sensor, typically used on EVs or HEVs. It is
compared with the true current, measured with a highaccuracy sensor (which is assumed to have near-zero
noise). Notice that the measurement noise is constituted by
high-frequency components, bursts and spikes, and a lowfrequency trend mainly due to temperature drifts.

0.5
0

Current [A]

-0.5
-1
Measured current
Actual current

-1.5
-2
-2.5
-3

50

100

150

200

Time [minutes]

Fig. 7 Current measurement.

In Fig. 8 the SoC estimated via Coulomb-Counting is


shown. Two current measures were used: a measure
acquired using an high-accuracy sensor and one acquired
with a standard current sensor. Even if SoC(0) was
correctly initialized, the SoC estimation starts to drift soon
and without correcting it dynamically, the estimation
becomes wrong easily.

requires to be adjusted using an other estimation


method;
the Model-Based method is able to catch the SoC
variation of slow dynamics (which is not glaring in
Fig. 9);
if a positive offset is present on the current measure
the Coulomb-Counting estimation will decrease faster
while the Model-Based estimation will decrease
slower; so a mix algorithm could try to take
advantage of this behavior because one estimation
compensates the other.
These notes were the starting point of the new
algorithm. Some previous works used a mix approach but
they ware based on a frequency spit of the estimation
based on current and the one based on the voltage[5]. Here
a different approach was used, giving better results.

100
Estimated SoC
Real SoC

80

SOC [%]

nI
60

40

20

Vm

V
+

0
0.5

1.5

2.5

100
Estimated SoC
Real SoC

60

40

20

0
0.5

1.5

2.5

+-

Integral
controller

SoC

+
+

Battery Cell Vmodel


MODEL

nV

From the other hand, a Model-Based method is more


complicated, since it requires a good cell model and to
measure both the current and the voltage.
Using the Model-Based method with the A123-M1 cell
model previously identified, and filtering the estimation
(since it was definitely too noisy thanks to the noise of the
measures and the flatness of the curve which relates VOCV
to SoC), we obtain the result shown in Fig. 9.
The estimation appears far to be correct and the filtering
process, needed to have an usable estimation, is too heavy
to get a good result: the estimation seems to be delayed.

80

SoCI

Fig. 8 SoC estimation via Coulomb counting.

SOC [%]

Im

Fig. 9 SoC estimation via model based method.

Summarizing, the tests on the simpler and easily


computable algorithms shown that they cannot be used
when the measurements are far to have no flaws like in a
HEV. However both methods present some advantages.
Evaluating the behavior of the two methods with different
tests, we saw that:
the Coulomb-Counting method is able to well catch
the rapid changes of SoC, but it suffers for every
flaws can arise on the current signal; so it often

106

Fig. 10 Mixed SoC estimation algorithm.

The estimation algorithm scheme we used is shown in


Fig. 10. The rationale of the estimation algorithm is as
follows:
the current and voltage of the battery cell are
measured (with some measurement noise, introduced
by the sensors);
the current is integrated, and a Coulomb-Counting
estimation (labeled SoCI in Fig. 10) of the SoC is
obtained;
the direct model (1) of the cell is fed with the SoC
estimation and the measured (noisy) current; the
model output is the estimated cell voltage;
a close-loop controller is designed around the cell
model; the direct cell model represents the plant of the
control system; the SoC is the input variable, whereas
the voltage is the controlled output; the reference
output is the measured cell voltage; the measured
current is a disturbance; a simple integral controller is
used;
the SoC input of the cell model is obtained as sum of
SoCI and the output of the feedback integral
controller;
the estimated SoC is the input of the cell model, in the
closed-loop configuration.
It is interesting to notice that the main idea of this
method is to use the Coulomb-Counting estimation for the
basic SoC estimation; this estimation is corrected with a
closed-loop control system, which tries to regulate the
direct-model output voltage at the value of the actual

measured voltage. The Coulomb-Counting part of the SoC


estimation is a sort of feed-forward component of the
control variable of the control system.
The result we obtain with the mixed method is shown
in Fig. 11. The result is clear: the estimation is very closed
to the real SoC. The algorithm achieves to mix the
advantages of both the algorithms, giving a better
estimation then the simpler algorithms.
100
Estimated SoC
Real SoC

SOC [%]

80

60

40

20

0
0.5

1.5

2.5

Fig. 11 SoC estimation via new mixed algorithm.

This result is very interesting and appealing, since it is


very robust towards measurement noise and poor SoC
initialization. As such, this algorithm is well-suited for onboard SoC estimation of Battery-Packs in EVs or HEVs.
V. CONCLUSION
A new SoC estimation algorithm is presented. It mixes
the best features of the Coulomb-Counting method and
the Model-Based approaches. The algorithm was applied
to a Li-ion cell.
In order to apply the new method, the cell was
previously characterized and identified. Unfortunately it
was possible to make tests on the battery only at ambient
temperature.
The results obtained with the mixed algorithm are
very encouraging: the algorithm is comparatively simple
and can be easily implemented on embedded on-board
electronics; moreover is has proven to be robust with
respect to measurement noises and poor SoC initialization.
The algorithm is now under testing on different Li-ion
cell technologies.
ACKWOLEDGEMENT
The first Author recognizes the support of the Ohio
State University Center for Automotive Research (CAR),
and is grateful to John Neal for the support testing the cell,
to Nick Picciano and Raffaele Bornatico for the useful
discussions.
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