Is it possible to extend coin cell life using a capacitor?
My wife thinks I’m crazy. She has been watching me discharging piles of coin cells over the last year, collecting millions of data points about their behavior. “Honey, exactly why are you spending all that money on batteries you’re just going to discharge?” It is pretty nutty, but the results are interesting, and dispel a lot of beliefs about what we can expect in long-lived, ultra-low-power, microcontroller-based products.
Last week I wrote about the behavior of CR2032 coin cells in applications that have to run for a decade or so. My experiments quantified the batteries’ increasing internal resistance as they’re used. The net result is that, depending on the system’s current needs, the cell will appear dead long before it really is. That is, there will be plenty of capacity left, but none of it will be useable by the system.
Several thoughtful readers wondered if adding a capacitor across the cell’s terminals could provide a short-term boost that could sustain a pulse load. It’s not hard to show mathematically that the answer is “yes.”
But the math is irrelevant. In engineering we’re always faced by conflicting needs, and what appears to be a simple solution sometimes isn’t.
Full story continues on EE Times sister site Embedded.com.