BATTERY TECHNOLOGY Counterfeit batteries pose RFI risk

Michele Windsor of Accutronics explains the need to avoid counterfeit power sources to prevent reliability and RFI problems in portable electronic military equipment.

❱ ❱ Portable communication devices

for military use demand reliable and EMC compliant battery and power systems to be effective


n many ways, the Internet of Things (IoT) embodies the spirit of the defence industry, with a unit of devices working harmoniously to achieve one common goal in the most effective and efficient way. It makes sense, then, that the military and security sectors are seeing increased adoption of IoT technology to transmit and handle intelligence quickly, with new lightweight and portable devices being used.

UNCOMPROMISED PORTABILITY Portable devices are the cornerstone of IoT but they are only as effective as their power supply. While mission-critical fixed installations are powered by generators, field devices require a reliable military battery that is capable of not just providing sufficient power discharge but also of doing it consistently. For example, a portable communication device needs a

battery capable of withstanding lengthy periods without charging. Not only that, but the battery must be securely fitted and able to operate correctly in spite of the environment or handling of the device. Only then will it be a reliable source of power. This is one of the core challenges faced by defence and

security batteries. While it might be relatively straightforward to find one suitable for powering devices, it’s significantly harder to find one that does so effectively. Batteries for field devices need a longer operating life with accurate fuel gauging to avoid unexpected depletions.

GREY MARKET BATTERIES Counterfeit, or grey market, batteries pose a tremendous threat to the electrical integrity of military devices, sacrificing quality for a lower price. This lower cost may sway some manufacturers, but these batteries are far from cost efficient. Aesthetically, the batteries may seem legitimate and no different to genuine products, but the internal components

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will be of inferior quality. This could be due to inadequate protection circuits leaving cells unstable and vulnerable to over-current, potentially culminating in the battery swelling or even explosion in rare circumstances.

MINIMISING INTERFERENCE In avoiding counterfeit batteries, defence businesses also minimise the risk of electromagnetic interference (EMI) in IoT networks. By cutting corners on circuit insulation, electrical isolation and impedance, as well as creepage and clearance distances, counterfeit batteries typically do not meet EMC regulatory standards. As a result, when these batteries are connected to chargers plugged into the mains power supply, they can introduce issues such as voltage fluctuations and radio frequency interference that can affect other telecommunications equipment on the network. Counteracting this with technology that provides additional filtering is a key first step, but further issues lie in the design of pre-engineered smart batteries themselves. For all the benefits they can provide, they do contain microprocessors which are a source for radio frequency interference (RFI). It’s for this reason that OEMs should consult specialists during the design stages, enabling them to provide a bespoke battery system that meets application requirements while also complying with the latest EMC regulations.

ALGORITHMIC SECURITY An innovation at battery supplier Accutronics is algorithmic security, in-built software that keeps devices safe from counterfeits. Algorithmic security uses a code that is unique to each

battery. The code is matched to a correlating code, which is programmed into host devices. This prevents fake batteries being used with the device without personnel being alerted, eliminating the risk of failure during operation.

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