The Blog

Nuvation Battery Management System Selected by Stalwart Power

in Battery Management System, News


“Stalwart Power had sourced battery modules that met our utility client’s needs in terms of both cost per kilowatt-hour and cycling capacity, but the OEM battery management system was simply not designed to support our deployment at the utility. A key requirement was for the BMS to enable remote monitoring of the BESS and to flag any potential issues that would merit a service call, before it impacted system safety or performance.”
–  Woody Gibson, CEO, Stalwart Power

battery-energy-storage-system-pv-smoothingSunnyvale, California. November 10, 2016. Stalwart Power has selected Nuvation BMS™ to manage their 51.2-Volt Battery Energy Storage Solution (BESS) for grid-attached and behind the meter energy management. The Stalwart BESS that was fitted with a Nuvation battery management system is a 17.5kWh lithium-iron phosphate energy storage system that utilizes a Schneider inverter. It was deployed in September by a leading U.S. utility to apply PV smoothing and load balancing to solar power generation. Nuvation BMS™ was selected due to its design for utility-scale applications and Nuvation’s ability to provide system integration support and engineering design services. Decisive factors that influenced Stalwart Power’s selection of Nuvation BMS™ included the availability of Ethernet communications, the high configurability of the BMS, and remotely accessible system controls. Nuvation performed all system integration, which included replacing the OEM BMS that came bundled with the battery modules. Their software team also developed PV smoothing and load balancing algorithms and installed a custom site controller into the BESS.

“Stalwart Power had sourced battery modules that met our utility client’s needs in terms of both cost per kilowatt-hour and cycling capacity, but the OEM battery management system was simply not designed to support our deployment at the utility,” said Woody Gibson, CEO of Stalwart Power. A key requirement was for the BMS to enable remote monitoring of the BESS and to flag any potential issues that would merit a service call, before it impacted system safety or performance. In terms of selecting a replacement BMS, the high configurability of Nuvation BMS made it very easy to integrate into Stalwart’s BESS.”

“After about 20 years of doing power engineering projects, we are excited to see the rapid advancements in battery energy storage within the last five years or so,” said Michael Worry, Nuvation CEO.  “We were very pleased to have been selected by Stalwart Power for both our BMS and our engineering services. They have a well-designed BESS and are a company that innovates at a pace that easily keeps up with battery and energy management technology. It was a very rewarding experience to be part of this project, including the installation and bring-up of the BESS at the utility site.”

As variable energy sources such as wind and solar become more widely adopted, it becomes increasingly problematic for utilities to integrate them into distributed electricity grids due to the disruptive impact of these variable power sources on grid stability. As the cost of batteries fall and their performance improves with new chemistries, battery energy storage systems are becoming adopted as a viable solution to this and other energy management challenges being faced by utilities. “PV smoothing” refers to the combining of solar generated power with energy storage to mitigate the impacts of power fluctuations derived from clouds passing overhead. These fluctuations are “smoothed” by the batteries before being sent to the grid. “Load balancing” refers to the storage of excess energy during periods of low demand, and the releasing of that stored energy as demand increases. Energy storage systems in the 48-volt range are emerging as a dominant BESS configuration for residential and commercial energy storage applications. They can be paired with residential solar, for example to store excess energy until needed, aid in grid stability, and power many other applications that directly impact grid energy costs and reliability.

About Nuvation Engineering (www.nuvation.com)
Nuvation Engineering provides battery management systems for large-scale energy storage platforms used in grid applications, telecom power backup systems, specialty vehicles and mobile robots. Founded in 1997, Nuvation consists of a BMS products division and an electronic design services division. In addition to off-the-shelf battery management systems, Nuvation provides custom power electronics engineering services.

About Stalwart Power (www.stalwartpower.com)
Stalwart Power addresses the extensive and growing demand for enhanced energy storage solutions that increase the reliability of electric transmission and distribution systems. They deliver end-to-end power solutions, providing energy storage, intelligent dispatching and increased efficiency. Stalwart Power provides both consumer and utility facing solutions to advance the integration of renewable resources onto the grid.

Media Contact – Nuvation Engineering
Joseph Xavier, Director of Marketing
519-594-0072
joseph.xavier@nuvation.com

Embedded Software Development: Outsource or In-House?

in Electronic Design Services, News

 

Nuvation COO Discusses Embedded Software Development with Digital Engineering Magazine

Sunnyvale California, October 2016. Nuvation’s COO Michael Hermann was recently interviewed for the October issue of Digital Engineering. He sat down with editor Beth Stackpole to discuss:Internet of Things Embedded Software Design

With over 18 years of experience in software design services, Michael provided some valuable insights regarding embedded software projects. Here are some highlights from that interview:

  • The complex products being developed today require more resources, a higher level of technical expertise, and shorter production time. These factors have led many companies to opt for some level of embedded software outsourcing over the last few years.
  • When choosing a services provider for embedded software projects, the earlier an external team can be brought in the better.
  • The temptation for many companies will be to move forward to code quickly. However, working with a methodical, clear-step approach and leveraging proven change management and collaboration processes will lower development costs and ensure higher quality results.
  • Outsourcing to an experienced engineering company can eliminate problems early on. Embedded software is a niche area of expertise and if an outsourced team doesn’t have the right experience, serious problems can arise.

Click here to read the full article from Digital Engineering Magazine.

Learn more about Nuvation’s embedded software development services,
or contact us to set-up a meeting.

Nuvation Exhibiting at Energy Storage North America

in Battery Management System

 

Visit us in booth #504, October 4-6, in San Diego

San Diego, California. September, 2016. Nuvation will be exhibiting at the Energy Storage North America conference and exhibition October 4-6 in San Diego, California. We will have a live demonstration of Nuvation BMS™, the battery management system that will be managing Alevo’s 2MW/MWh Gridbank energy storage systems. Some features that make it a top-tier BMS for utility-scale energy storage include:

  • Nuvation BMS High Voltage RackNuvation BMS™ is architected with high-speed data throughput to support real-time analytics for thousands of battery cells.
  • It includes multiple concurrent connections for site controllers, data capture, client–specific user interfaces, etc.
  • Unlike most battery management systems, Nuvation BMS can measure cells and manage the charge process from 0 volts.
  • For added safety, Nuvation BMS contains redundant processing functions in separate hardware modules, and includes built-in ground-fault detection.
  • It includes a remotely accessible operator interface that shows battery performance at the aggregate and cell levels, faults and warnings, enables maintenance personnel to take down and bring up stacks, roll out BMS firmware updates across the entire ESS container or all containers in the energy storage facility.

To request an appointment for a live product demonstration at ESNA in San Diego, click here.

ESNA-header

 

Electronic Design Industry Update

in Electronic Design Services

 

Electronic Design Projects Snapshot

Waterloo, Ontario. August 2016. Nuvation has been noticing a significant uptick in new product development projects and we thought you might enjoy a quick peek into some of the things companies have been asking us to design for them. Here is a snapshot of what innovators in various industries are up to:

Toyota BLAID device to help the blindWe’ve been working with Toyota on their BLAID project since early this year and are excited to be part of this industry collaboration to develop a device that will significantly improve the mobility and quality of life of the visually impaired. For more information about this project, you can check out Toyota’s web page about it here.

Monitoring sensor PCB design“IoT” or the “Internet of Things” seems to be recession-proof, and we continue to develop products that include low-power wireless networking and collection of data that gets uploaded to the cloud and turned into profit-making business outcomes. The major drivers of this are low-cost sensors, small long-life batteries, and of course Internet bandwidth is much less expensive than it used to be. We have been working on a few commercial and industrial systems with water sensors that measure things like flow, volume, and pressure.

Nuvation battery management system in behind the meter battery stackImprovements and cost-reductions in lithium and other battery technologies are driving promising innovations in robotics, energy storage, and specialty vehicle applications. Nuvation’s power electronics experience has been being leveraged here, and we’ve been getting many requests for custom power conversion systems and energy storage solutions.

Nuvation has always specialized in the highly complex, and we’ve seen a major lift there too in applications ranging from life sciences research instruments to space-based electronics. The medical device industry is looking very strong and we’ve been working on home-based health monitoring systems, operating room robotics, and portable emergency response devices.

Space satellite andunderwater exploration robotThe energy business looks like it’s going through a boom as industries explore alternatives to traditional sources of fossil fuels, and also employ more innovative technologies to extract natural resources. Nuvation recently completed a project upgrading an analog-based machine vision system to a low-latency digital system for deep-sea exploration.

I hope this quick snapshot gave you a helpful glimpse into what innovators across a range of industries are up to. If you have an electronic design project in mind that you’d like to explore with Nuvation please contact us to discuss whether Nuvation Engineering may be the right fit.

Nuvation Exhibiting at Critical Power Expo in Michigan

in Battery Management System

Battery Management System Demo in Booth 2119

Nuvation battery management system user interfaceNovi, Michigan. August, 2016. Nuvation will be exhibiting in the Critical Power Expo portion of the Battery Show on September 13-15 in Novi Michigan. Visit us at booth #2119 for a live demonstration of our utility-grade high-voltage battery management system. Our BMS manages voltages as high as 1250 VDC, but we won’t actually have a 1200 volt battery stack on the show floor – that would be a bit heavy! So instead the demo puts out 110 volts using the same type of batteries that are in the Tesla Model S, i.e. those little “18650” lithium-ion cells.

18650 cells are named as such because they are 18mm x 65mm. If you are interested in learning more about the batteries used in electric vehicles, including the 18650s, there is a pretty interesting article about it here.

18650 lithium ion batteries used in the Tesla Model STo learn more about utility-scale battery management, attend Nuvation’s presentation on the topic at the Open Tech Forum, which takes place on the show floor in Expo Hall A, at booth #1151. Michael Worry, Nuvation’s CEO, will be sharing some lessons learned about BMS design based on Nuvation’s experiences designing battery management systems for utility-scale energy storage system developers.

In addition to showing our high-voltage BMS hardware in action, we will be introducing our new 11-60VDC BMS for lower-voltage battery stacks. It employs the software package used in our field-proven high-voltage BMS, in a cost and form factor-optimized hardware platform for lower-voltage battery packs.Nuvation 48 Volt Battery Management System (BMS)

If you’d like to learn more about utility-scale battery management, drop by our booth #2119, or contact us.

Taking a Closer Look at PCB Traces

in Circuit Board Design, Electronic Design Services


Introduction

Waterloo, Ontario, July 2016. A frequently asked question during Printed Circuit Board (PCB) layout review meetings is, “Are 50-ohm traces being used for the digital signals in this PCB layout?” Often the answer to this question is “yes”. However when making decisions that balance cost, performance, and manufacturability the correct answer can also be “no” or “not for all the digital signals”. Alternative approaches can include focusing on the “controlled impedance” of PCB transmission lines and/or using other trace-impedance values.

Let us examine a layer-stack design and see how the PCB trace width affects layer count (cost) and trace impedance (performance). In Figure 1, routing channels of the same width are shown on a signal layer for three PCB transmission lines: a 100-ohm differential pair, a 50-ohm and 60-ohm single-ended.

Figure 1: Routing channels shown on signal layer

Figure 1: Routing channels of the same width are shown on a signal layer for three PCB transmission lines for a 100-ohm differential pair, a 50-ohm and 60-ohm single-ended

The 100-ohm differential-pair is usually determined prior to the single-ended and should be fitted in the routing channel (between the vias) without discontinuities because they are usually for higher speed digital signals. Once the trace width and spacing of the 100-ohm differential-pair have been designed, the trace width for 50-ohm or 60-ohm single-ended on the same layer is usually determined accordingly. Changing the trace width alone for the single-ended traces will lead to different trace impedance. The trace routing yield per channel is:

  • Right: One 100-ohm differential-pair with 4mil trace / 5.5mil space.
  • Middle: Two 60-ohm traces for single-ended with 4mil trace / 4mil space.
  • Left: One 50-ohm trace for single-ended with 6.5mil trace / 7.4mil space.

Note: This example assumes that the minimum trace width and spacing are 4mils.

In this case, the engineer needs to make trade-off decisions on using either 50-ohm traces, which use up more PCB space and possibly more layers, or 60-ohm traces which use up less PCB space and possibly less PCB layers.

Read More

Nuvation Battery Management System Completes MESA Draft 3 Conformance

in Battery Management System, News


“Nuvation’s attainment of Draft 3 conformance streamlines the integration of their battery management system with Parker’s MESA-compliant inverters and 3rd-party site controllers on the Alevo GridBank project. As a founding member of MESA, Parker views Nuvation’s adoption of MESA standards and their ongoing involvement as an important step in simplifying the integration of Nuvation BMS into energy storage systems.”   – Daniel Friberg, Division Engineering Manager, Parker Hannifin


Grid Battery Controller installed in 1MW container

Nuvation Grid Battery Controller (on right), managing multiple battery stacks in a 2MW/1MWhr Alevo GridBank energy storage system

Sunnyvale, California. June 6, 2016. Nuvation Engineering has announced that their battery management system for large-scale energy storage systems (ESS) is now conformant with Draft 3 of the MESA-Device/SunSpec Energy Storage Model. “MESA Draft 3 conformant products share a common communications interface that exposes all the data and control points required for operating the energy storage system,” said John Corman, Vice-President, Engineering and Product Management at Nuvation. “Nuvation BMS can now be integrated with any other MESA-conformant energy storage hardware or software without the custom middleware often required to enable different companies’ products to work together.”

“Nuvation’s attainment of Draft 3 conformance streamlines the integration of their battery management system with Parker’s MESA-conformant inverters and 3rd-party site controllers on the Alevo GridBank project,” said Daniel Friberg, Division Engineering Manager, Parker Hannifin. “As a founding member of MESA, Parker views Nuvation’s adoption of MESA standards and their ongoing involvement as an important step in simplifying the integration of Nuvation BMS into energy storage systems.”

Read More

Alevo Selects Nuvation Battery Management System for Grid-Scale Energy Storage

in Battery Management System, News


Previously published by Critical Power Expo 2016

Grid Batter Controller

The Nuvation Grid Battery Controller (GBC) manages multi-stack grid-scale battery configurations

Novi Michigan, April, 2016. Alevo has selected Nuvation BMS™ to manage their lithium-ion based GridBank containerized energy storage systems (ESS). Alevo’s planned U.S. deployment will provide more than 200MW of available power to utility grids.  Nuvation’s utility-grade battery management system will control the batteries in Alevo’s 2MW /1MWh ESS containers and support voltages approaching 1250 VDC. A Nuvation Grid Battery Controller™ will control parallel battery stacks and provide a central interface for grid integration and energy
management.

Alevo GridBank and Nuvation BMS

Nuvation CEO Michael Worry presenting Nuvation BMS™ in a 2MW/1MWh Alevo GridBank at Parker Hannifin, Energy Grid Tie Division facilities

Nuvation BMS™ includes features such as remote monitoring and management, automated BMS firmware updating, redundant safety features, and granular battery performance optimization controls. The Grid Battery Controller™ centralizes the management of parallel battery stacks in a single device, and can be connected to external energy management controls and data analytics systems. It also includes a host of additional management features such as real-time data streaming and early identification of potential cell degradation.

Nuvation BMS™ is a chemistry-agnostic battery management system that can support lithium-ion, lead-acid, zinc-oxide, nickel, other chemistries and supercapacitors.

Alevo Rack with Nuvation BMS

An Alevo GridBank Battery Stack being managed by Nuvation BMS

Cyclone V SOC FPGA Design: Lessons Learned

in Electronic Design Services, FPGA Design Services, Garage, Product Design

Cyclone V Lessons From an Angry Moose

Altera Cyclone 5 Cyclone V Development KitAltera Cyclone V Block Diagram

In 2013, Nuvation designed and built a mechatronic version of the popular mobile game Angry Birds. Keeping with our company’s Canadian heritage, we dubbed the game Angry Moose. A 3D-printed, comically large slingshot is aimed using three linear actuators which set the azimuth, angle and stretch (“anger”). These actuators are controlled by Jaguar motor controllers which take a PWM control signal generated by an FPGA. The player uses an iPad with a custom Angry Moose app to wirelessly send control data to a WiFi router, which relays the control data to the FPGA over wired Ethernet.
Angry Moose Demonstration at Altera SOC Developer Forum in 2015

Arrow Electronics Altera Cyclone V SOC Kit

Arrow Electronics SoCKIT

Since then, Nuvation has been continually updating the FPGA platform with new Altera FPGA parts, adding features and tweaking the game to make it more fun. In 2014 we upgraded the FPGA from a Cyclone III, running an embedded NIOS microcontroller, to a Cyclone V running the latest NIOS II soft-core embedded processor. In October of 2015, we incorporated the Arrow Electronics SoCKIT, which upgraded the FPGA to the Cyclone V SoC and utilized the hard, dual ARM-core processor, which allowed us to do the software development in a Linux environment.

“Altera SoCs integrate an ARM-based hard processor system (HPS) consisting of processor, peripherals, and memory interfaces with the FPGA fabric using a high-bandwidth interconnect backbone.” (text copied from Altera website).

The hardware side of the project involved using the QSys system integration software to instantiate the ARM-based Hard Processor System (HPS), attach the Ethernet controller, import our existing PWM controllers and assign hardware addresses. I then used the Quartus II IDE to build the Verilog top level module and create the pin assignments. Compiling the FPGA took minutes. From there, it was a quick effort to get the development kit to boot Linux using an SD card image provided by www.RocketBoards.org. As a testament to Altera’s ever-improving tool flow, I did all of this in one afternoon with no prior SoC experience. At this point, the hardware implementation was done. The rest of the project required developing the software driver to communicate with the memory mapped PWM modules. Cyclone V Code Monkey

Not being familiar with driver design in Linux, I fumbled around, looking for similar drivers and trying, unsuccessfully, to pattern match something that would work. The online documentation at Rocket Boards consisted of a few rough tutorials and some community-generated projects with sparse documentation. I felt disappointed that documentation for SoC design was largely left up to the community and wished more had been done to provide developers with example projects. One developer was able to put together a driver that worked, but in his words, wasn’t pretty. Nevertheless, at this point our Angry Moose demo was able to receive commands over Ethernet using a simple web server and parse the commands in order to direct the PWM modules and move the actuators.

We debuted the improved Angry Moose game at Altera’s ASDF (Altera SoC Developer’s Forum), where it was a smash hit.

Angry Moose Logo Graphic

We are Exhibiting – 2016 ESA Annual Conference and Expo!

in Battery Management System

esa2016-banner-600x150_with_logo

Nuvation Engineering is happy to be exhibiting at the Energy Storage Association 26th Annual Conference and Expo in Charlotte on April 25 – 27! You can find us in the Charlotte Convention Center Expo Hall at Booth # 329! We hope you can join us as we showcase a live demonstration of Nuvation BMS™, our MESA-compliant off-the-shelf battery management system designed specifically for grid energy storage.  Register and find more information about the free expo hall pass http://bit.ly/1Qo1uz6.

If you would like to set up an appointment with one of our senior executives on site at ESA to learn more about Nuvation BMS™ please contact us at nuvationbms [at] nuvation.com.