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NICKEL METAL HYDRIDE (Ni-MH) CELL THERMAL BALANCE DURING PARALLEL CHARGING
by James L. Tidwell and Robert E. Richter
Due to design form factors and space limitation it is sometimes desirable to utilize cells in a parallel configuration to increase the available capacity of a battery pack.
Wth Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) technology this works very well due to the thermal characteristics and voltage characteristics of this technology. Typi- cally the cells are self balancing. Current will nor- mally divide appropriately between the cells during charging not adversely affecting the thermal char- acteristics or rapid charge termination.
This is not the case with Ni-MH cells.
Due to the voltage differences, impedance dif- ferences and due to the relative difference of the cell voltage as the cell is heated, Ni-MH cells will not effectively charge in a parallel configuration. Ther- mal balance of Ni-MH cells is not automatic. The cell receiving the most current will heat more since the Ni-MH chemical reaction during charge pro- duces heat proportional to the rate of charge. They will continue to heat depending on the rate ofcharge and their ability to dissipate the heat which is depend- ent on the construction of the battery pack. This effect will allow one cell string to thermally domi- nate the cell pack. This will prematurely terminate rapid charge since most Ni-MH rapid chargers uti-