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    Battery and charger solutions move e-bike into a new gear

    By Majeed Ahmad | March 27, 2017

    The e-bike battery systems benefit from both travel charger and home charger. Image courtesy of Intersil

    Europe’s enthusiasm for the clean environment and energy efficiency apparently makes the electric bicycles or e-bikes a poster child of the shift from mechanical to electronic control systems. However, what’s new in the e-bike story is that China is now only issuing new licenses for e-bikes while putting an end to the permits for gas-powered bicycles.

    So there is a renewed interest in creating smaller batteries and more efficient battery chargers for e-bikes. The battery and battery chargers — along with the drive unit and the communications interface unit — make up the basic building blocks of an e-bike design.

    Power Integrations is now offering e-bike charging solutions that improve reliability with current limiting and thermal shutdown features. The company’s high-voltage ICs for e-bike chargers also boast frequency jittering to reduce EMI effects.

    Intersil has also unveiled a new lithium-ion battery pack monitor for e-bikes that mitigates the battery pack failures by monitoring temperature and cell balancing faults as well as external faults like over- and under-voltage.

    It’s worth noting that e-bikes use both lithium and lead-acid batteries. However, lead-acid batteries, while cheaper, are also larger and heavier and thus contradict the “green” quest that e-bikes represent in the first place.

    On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries are smaller, weigh less and boast longer life. But they require monitoring and protection for safer use. Therefore, chipmakers are offering cell protection, monitoring, and fuel gauging features to ensure e-bike safety and reliability.

    The e-bike trend is likely to grow, and so will be the need for energy-efficient components inside e-bike’s electronic system modules like batteries and battery chargers. And that will speed up charging times and extend the e-bike range.