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Title:
AUTOMOTIVE DUAL VOLTAGE BATTERY CHARGING SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/001142
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A dual voltage power supply, comprising at least one battery (20) with multiple battery modules (Bi) and a first set of switches (Sj) for connecting the battery modules in series to thereby provide a first voltage to a first circuit in case the first switches (Sj) are closed and to disconnect the series connection case the first switches (Sj) are open, and at least one connection tap being connected to one of the battery modules (Bi) to provide its voltage (U2) to a second circuit (2) operating at a lower voltage (U2) than the first circuit (1) and being connected in parallel by a second set of switches (Pi+, Pi-) to other battery modules (Bi), wherein the other battery modules (Bi) are connected in parallel to each other and said one of the battery modules (Bi) in case the second set of switches (Pi+, Pi-) is closed and are not connected in parallel in case the second set of switches (Pi+, Pi-) is open, can be charged with off the shelf generators even if the combustion engines drives them with comparatively low rpm, if said one of the battery modules (Bi) supplies at least one DC/DC converter (30) for supplying the first circuit (2) during times of low power demand of the first circuit and if that at least one a capacitor (C1) is connected in parallel to the output of the DC/DC converter (30).

Inventors:
KÖRNER, Andre (Arendsstraße 36, Lippstadt, 59557, DE)
Application Number:
EP2016/062535
Publication Date:
January 05, 2017
Filing Date:
June 02, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
HELLA KGAA HUECK & CO. (Rixbecker Straße 75, Lippstadt, 59552, DE)
International Classes:
H02J7/00; H02J7/34
Foreign References:
US20140265559A12014-09-18
DE102012010711A12013-03-28
US20110098887A12011-04-28
US20040130214A12004-07-08
US4992672A1991-02-12
DE102013113182A12015-05-28
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Claims:
Claims

1. A dual voltage power supply, comprising at least one battery (20) with multiple battery modules (Bj), comprising a first set of switches (Sj) for connecting the battery modules in series to thereby provide a first voltage to a first circuit in case the first switches (Sj) are closed and to disconnect the series connection case the first switches (Sj) are open,

- at least one connection tap being connected to one of the battery modules (Bj) to provide its voltage (U2) to a second circuit 2 operating at a lower voltage (U2) than the first circuit (1) and being connected in parallel by a second set of switches (Pj+, Pj.) to other battery modules (B,), wherein the other battery modules (Bj) are connected in parallel to each other and said one of the battery modules (Bj) in case the second set of switches (Pi+, Pj.) is closed and are not connected in parallel in case the second set of switches (Pit, Pj.) is open,

characterized in, that

said one of the battery modules (Bj) supplies at least one DC/DC converter (30), said DC/DC converter (30) has an output being connected to the first circuit (1) for supplying the first circuit 2, and in that at least one a capacitor (Ci) is connected in parallel to the output of the DC/DC converter (30). The dual voltage power supply of claim 1,

characterized in, that

it further comprises a controller (40) monitoring the voltage (Ul) at the capacitor (Ci) and closing the first set of switches (Sj) and opening the second set of switches (Pi+, Pj.) in case the voltage (Ul) at the capacitor (Ci) drops below a predefined value and vice versa.

The dual voltage power supply of one of claims 1 or 2,

characterized in, that

a changeover switch (70) connects a generator (G) either with one of the battery modules (Bj) being connected to the second circuit (2) or with the first circuit (1), and in that

a controller determines the voltage supplied by the generator (G) and in case

- the voltage supplied by the generator (G) is above a predetermined voltage the controller (40) closes the first set of switches (Sj), opens the second set of switches (Pi+, Pj.) and connects the generator (G) to the first circuit by corresponding activation of said changeover switch (70), and

the voltage supplied by the generator (G) is below a predetermined voltage the controller (40) connects the generator (G) to the second circuit (2) by corresponding activation of said changeover switch (70).

The dual voltage power supply of claim 3,

characterized in, that

the generator (G) is connected to the second connection tab (T2) for supplying a voltage to the second circuit (") and for charging at least said one of the battery modules (B|).

5. The dual voltage power supply of one of the preceding claims,

characterized in, that

a changeover switch (70) connects a generator (G) either with one of the battery modules (Bj) being connected to the second circuit (2) or with the first circuit (1), and in that a controller determines the power consumption of the first circuit and in case the power consumption of the first circuit is above a power consumption threshold, the controller activates the changeover switch to connect the generator (G) with the first circuit (1).

6. The dual voltage power supply of one of the preceding claims,

characterized in, that

it comprises a switch 61 for disconnecting the DC/DC converter (30) from the first circuit (1) and/or for disconnecting the DC/DC converter's (30) input from the second circuit (2).

7. A method for operating a dual voltage power supply of one of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises monitoring the power demand of the first circuit (1), and in case:

(i) the power demand is below a power threshold:

- supplying the second voltage (U2) to the second circuit (2) by connecting the second circuit (2) to at least one of the battery modules (Bj),

- supplying the first circuit (1) with the DC/DC converter (30),

(ii) the power demand of the first circuit (1) exceeds a powerthreshold: - connecting the battery modules (Bi) in series by closing the first set of switches (Sj) and by opening the second set of switches (Pi+, Pi-)

- connecting the first circuit (1) to the battery modules (Bi)

- connecting one battery module (Bi) to the second circuit (2)

The method of claim 7,

characterized in that,

the DC/DC converter (30) is disconnected from at least one of the first and second circuits (1, 2) in case the first set of switches (Sj) is closed.

The method of claim 7 or 8,

characterized in that

a generator (G) is powered by an engine and its output voltage is monitored, in case:

(i) the generator's output voltage is above a threshold the generators output is connected to the first circuit (1) and the first set of switches (Sj) is closed, and

(ii) the generator's output voltage is below or equal the threshold the generators output is connected to the second circuit (2) and the first set of switches (Sj) is opened and at least one of the battery modules (B,) is connected to the second circuit (2)

Description:
Automotive Dual Voltage Battery Charging System

Field of the invention

The invention relates to charging a dual voltage power supply for vehicles, light trucks, trucks and the like. The dual voltage power supply comprises at least a battery with multiple battery modules. The battery may further comprise a first set of switches for connecting the battery modules in series and second set of switches for connecting the battery modules in parallel. In case the series connection is established, a first voltage Ui is provided via a first connection tap to a first circuit. A second voltage U 2 is provided via a second connection tap to a se- cond circuit. In case parallel connection is established all or some battery modules may be connected via the second connection tap to the second circuit. The invention further relates to a method for operating such dual voltage power supply and for charging the battery.

Description of the related art US 2004/0130214 Al suggest a two voltage system for automotive applications. The two voltage system has a 42V circuit including a battery, an alternator for charging the battery and high power loads like e.g. a starter. The battery consist of multiple battery cells being connected in series to obtain said 42V. The battery provides as well a low voltage tap for feeding a low voltage circuit with 14V. The low voltage tap is simply a connection to an intermediate voltage level of the series connection of the battery cells. The two voltage circuits are coupled by a bi-directional DC/DC converter. In case the load drawn from the low voltage circuit is low, it is fed by the DC/DC converter. In case the current demand of the low voltage circuit is higher, the voltage provided by the low voltage output of the DC/DC converter drops and the additional required energy is provided by the low voltage tap. Asymmetric discharging of the battery cells is compensated by a charge equalizer. US 4,992,672 discloses a dual voltage power supply comprising an alternator driven at variable speed by a vehicle engine. The alternator directly feeds a load like a windshield heater or the like at a first voltage level and is controlled by a first- or second-voltage regulator (wherein the first voltage level is above the second voltage level), the latter controlling the alternator field current. The alternator output is supplied via a second voltage regulator to charge a battery and to supply power to the second voltage circuit. In case high power and thus the first voltage devices are switched off, the alternator output is regulated to maintain charging of the battery by an alternator field control circuit. DE 10 2013 113 182 Al discloses a two voltage battery for feeding a 12V and a 48V circuit. The battery has multiple battery cells being connected in series by a first set of switches and being connected in parallel by a second set of switches. In case the first set of switches is closed, the second set of switches is open and the battery is connected to the 48V circuit. The 48V circuit includes a generator for charging the battery. The generator is as well used as motor for assisting a combustion engine. Alternatively, the second set of switches is closed, the first set is open and the battery is connected to the 12V circuit. In case the combustion engine requires assistance or in generator assisted braking, commonly referred to as 'recuperation', the battery and the generator are switched to their 48V modes to keep currents low. If further 48V devices have to be supplied with energy an additional 48V battery is suggested. Alternatively, multiple two voltage batteries may be connected in parallel. The latter has the advantage that the 12V circuit and the 48V circuit can be used in parallel and that the load can be dis ¬ tributed across the batteries. Summary of the invention

The problem to be solved by the invention is based on the observation that high voltage devices in cars cannot be simply switched off in case they are not needed as these devices often have to be activated quickly and thus cannot be switched off completely as suggested in US 4,992,672. The teaching of

DE 10 2013 113 182 Al has huge advantages in in mild hybrid systems, but for non-hybrid vehicles a separate starter and an alternator in 12V technology are much cheaper than 48V technology. Reverting completely to a 12V system, however poses substantial problems with high power loads, like e.g. an electric power steering system (EPS). In addition, such systems cannot be simply switched off when driving as they are mostly controlled by complex controllers. Beyond, charging of the 48V circuit requires corresponding voltages to be provided by the generator. However, if the combustion engine idles, at low engine rpm the voltage provided by of the shelf generators is below said 48V and the battery cannot be charged. This is for example relevant when driving at moderate speeds in a high gear, and in particular when slowing down, where recuperation shall take place. But of course it is advantageous to charge the battery, at low or moderate engine power.

Solutions of these problems are described in the independent claims. The dependent claims relate to further improvements of the invention. The solution of this problem makes use of the observation, that most of the high power loads require comparatively high currents only for short amount of times, but repeti- tively.

The dual voltage power supply, comprises at least a battery with multiple battery modules. The battery modules can each comprise a number of battery cells. The rated voltage of the battery modules should be the same, e.g. 12V like a typical automotive battery. Preferably, the battery includes at least on charging man- agement module, e.g. each battery module may comprise a charging manage ¬ ment module for efficiently charging the respective battery module. The charg ¬ ing management module(s) may communicate, e.g. via a bus system, with the controller and/or with each other. The battery may further comprise a first set of switches for connecting the battery modules in series. In other words the battery modules are connected in series wherein a switch of said first set of switches is positioned between each two neighbored battery modules to either connect said modules in case the switch is closed or to disconnect them in case the switch is open. In addition the battery may comprise a second set of switches connecting at least two of said battery modules in parallel when the second set of switches is closed. Preferably, all battery modules which are connected by said first set of switches are as well connected by said second set of switches.

When closing the first set of switches, a first voltage is supplied via a first connection tap to a first circuit. Opening said first set of switches disconnects the battery modules from each other. Said first circuit may comprise loads requiring comparatively high amounts of electrical power, like for example an EPS or a an auxiliary engine. Such applications require peak power supply of up to 15kW. However, such high power is, not required continuously but only upon demand and for short amounts of time. In the meantime, during the so called idle state, the required power is in the range of a few Watt, e.g. 1 to 10W, in some cases up to 500W. During these 'low power times', a simple and thus cheap DC/DC converter may provide the required power to the first connection tap and thus the first circuit, however, if the required power raises and cannot be provided by the DC/DC converter, the first set of switches may be closed and the battery modules may thereby be connected in series to energize the first circuit.

When opening the first set of switches and closing the second set of switches, the respective battery modules are connected in parallel to the second circuit via a second connection tap and can be charged in parallel for example by a generator driven by a combustion engine. Alternatively, comparatively high currents can be drawn from the battery at the second voltage level, e.g. for cranking, i.e. starting a combustion engine. Preferably, the second connection tap and thus the second circuit remains connected to one of battery modules even in case the second set of switches is open. This enables to provide power to the second circuit, i.e. to supply the second circuit, independently from the setting of the sets of switches. Beyond this enables to continuously supply the second circuit or to charge said battery module independently of the states of the sets of switches. Beyond, at least this one of the battery modules may be charged even if the voltage provided by the generator is below the first voltage Ui, e.g. because the combustion engine idles.

The first and second circuit preferably share a common ground and are thus not galvanically isolated. This reduces the complexity of the circuit. For example a single connection tap is sufficient to connect the battery permanently to the second circuit (provided that the first and second circuit share a common ground).

Only to avoid ambiguities closing or opening a set of switches means closing or opening, respectively, all switches of said set of switches. The switches are typi- cally semiconductor switches, e.g. IGBTs or MOSFETS. Of course contactors or other types could be used as well. The switches are preferably controlled by a controller, i.e. a controller is connected to the control input of the respective switch to change its state by controlling the voltage at the control input. In practice the controller controls gate voltages of said semiconductor switches. Preferably, the dual voltage power supply further comprises at least one DC/DC converter. The input of said DC/DC converter is supplied by the second circuit (preferably only) and the output of said DC/DC converter supplies the first circuit. At least one capacitor may be connected in parallel to the output of the DC/DC converter. The DC/DC converter enables to supply the first circuit perma- nently, i.e. even if the first set of switches is open, in case the power being drawn by the load(s) of the first circuit is lower than a power threshold, which is preferably lower than the rated power of the DC/DC converter. This is typically the case if the load(s) are in an idle state. For example an EPS draws only little power when driving along a straight street. In other words the power provided by the DC/DC converter is sufficient to maintain the loads of the first circuit in an idle state. However, in case the DC/DC converter is unable to provide the required power, e.g. because an EPS requires a higher current, the first set of switches are closed and the current is provided by the battery. A controller may thus monitor the required power and closes the first set of switches in case the power demand is higher than the power threshold, e.g. the power that can be provided by the DC/DC converter. Short peaks and/or small peaks of the power demand that are above the nominal power of the DC/DC converter can be compensated by the capacitor without closing the first set of switches and thus without interrupting charging of the battery modules in case the voltage provided by the generator is below the first voltage Ul. After the peak, the capacitor can be reloaded by the DC/DC converter. Preferably the capacity C of the capacitor is bigger or equal ls-Lax/Ui, wherein l max is the maximum rated current of the DC/DC converter, even more preferred the capacity C is bigger equal 2s-l max /Ui or even bigger or equal 5s-l max /Ui. This means that the DC/DC converter requires 1, 2, or 5 seconds, respectively, to charge a completely discharged capacitor.

As apparent from the above, the nominal power of the DC/DC converter is signif- icantly smaller than the nominal power of the battery. For example the nominal power of the DC/DC converter is smaller or equal to 10% of the nominal power of the battery. Preferable the nominal power of the DC/DC converter is smaller or equal to 5% or even smaller or equal to 1% of the nominal power of the battery. In any case the, the DC/DC converter is dimensioned with respect to the loads of the first circuit.

To monitor the required power, said controller can for example measure the input and/or output current of the DC/DC converter and close first set of switches in case the at least one of said currents exceeds a respective threshold. The current can be measured, e.g. as voltage across a shunt. Alternatively (or additionally) the voltage of the first circuit can be monitored by the controller. In case said voltage of the first circuit drops below a threshold, the first set of switches is closed. In case said voltage raises again, this may indicate that the load is re- duced and the first set of switches can be opened again. Preferably, the second set of switches or at least some of them are closed in turn, e.g. for charging the battery modules thereby being connected in parallel to the second circuit. Summarizing, the dual voltage power supply may preferably comprise a controller configured for monitoring the voltage at the capacitor and for closing the first set of switches and opening the second set of switches in case the voltage at the capacitor drops below a predefined value and vice versa.

Preferably, the DC/DC converter is switched off and/or disconnected from the first circuit in case the first set of switches is closed. This may be performed by the controller, controlling the first and second set of switches. The efficiency of the system in enhanced and a potential overload of the DC/DC converter is avoided in case the battery voltage drops.

Alternatively or additionally a load of the first circuit (e.g. said EPS) may signal its raising power demand, e.g. via a communication line or a communication bus, to the controller, which in turn closes the first set of switches in case the signaled power demand exceeds a threshold. Thereby, closing the first set of switches is accelerated or can take place even in advance, if the raising power demand is signaled in advance.

The dual voltage power supply may further comprise at least one changeover switch connecting a generator either with one of the battery modules or with the first circuit. The controller may determine the voltage supplied by the generator and in case the voltage supplied by the generator is above a predetermined voltage, the controller closes the first set of switches, opens the second set of switches and connects the generator to the first circuit by corresponding activation of said changeover switch. However, in case the voltage supplied by the generator is below a predetermined voltage the controller connects the generator to one of the battery modules by corresponding activation of said changeover switch. This enables to efficiently load the battery modules and in particular to feed loads of the first circuit, which typically have an enhanced power demand directly by the generator. The lifetime of the battery modules is enhanced accordingly.

As already mentioned above, the generator voltage depends on the rpm of the combustion engine driving said generator. If the engine's rpm exceeds an rpm threshold, the generator may be connected by corresponding activation of the changeover switch to the first circuit and the battery modules may be connected in series by said first set of switches to thereby charge them and the capacitor. A controller may thus monitor the combustion engine's rpm and/or the genera- tor's rpm. The controller may compare at least one of said rpms with a corresponding rpm threshold and activate the changeover switch to connect the generator to the first circuit and close the first set of switches in case the monitored rpm exceeds its corresponding rpm threshold.

Preferably, the changeover switch connects a generator either with one of the battery modules being connected to the second circuit or with the first circuit depending on the power demand of the first circuit, i.e. the power consumption of the first circuit. In case the power consumption of the first circuit is above a power consumption threshold, the controller activates the changeover switch to connect the generator with the first circuit. As the voltage of the generator adapts to the voltage of the respective circuit, the power that can be provided by the generator is significantly enhanced by connecting it to the first circuit, as the limiting factor is the maximum current. Without said changeover switch, the generator may be connected to the first circuit only e.g. to the connection tab for supplying a voltage to the second circuit and for charging at least said one of the battery modules. In case the second set of switches is closed, the battery modules are charged in parallel. Above, it was anticipated that it is clear that either the first or the second set of switches may be closed as it is implicit that both sets of switches may not be closed at the same time. In other words, the second set of switches is always open in case the first set of switches is closed and the first set of switches is always open in case the second set of switches is closes. It is possible to open both set of switches at the same time. In the latter case, the one battery module supplies the second circuit and via the DC/DC converter the first circuit.

DC/DC converters are known in the art and include boost converter, fly-back converters, forward converters, push-pull converters, voltage multipliers and the like, to name only a few. Briefly a DC/DC converter transforms a first DC voltage into another DC voltage.

Description of Drawings

In the following the invention will be described by way of example, without limitation of the general inventive concept, on examples of embodiment with reference to the drawings. Figure 1 shows a first example of the invention.

Figure 2 shows a second example of the invention.

Figure 3 shows a flow diagram of a method according to the invention

In figure 1 shows a preferred embodiment of a dual voltage power system. The dual voltage power system has a first circuit 1 with at least one load. Only as ex- ample three loads Rn, Ri 2 , R13 are shown. The first circuit 1 operates at a first voltage level Ui and is connected to a dual voltage power supply 10 for being powered by said dual voltage power supply 10. The loads represented by R r , may be auxiliary devices like e.g. an EPS or an auxiliary drive. Such devices require a comparatively high amount of power of up to 15kW as explained above and a low amount of power in an idle state.

The dual voltage power system has a second circuit 2 with at least one load R 2 i. The second circuit 2 operates at a second voltage level U 2 . The second circuit 2 is connected and thus supplied by the dual voltage power supply 10. U 2 is smaller than Ui. In automotive applications the second voltage level U 2 is typically 12V. 24V is common for trucks, agricultural machines and the like. The first voltage Ui is higher than the second voltage U 2 , e.g. 48V, 60V or the like. Mostly, it is an integer multiple of the second voltage U 2 . In this example, the first and second circuits Ui, U 2 share a common ground.

The dual power voltage supply comprises a battery 20 with at least two battery modules B, (i max ≤i<l; 2<i max ). As example, four battery modules Bi to B 4 are shown. Each battery module Bi comprises at least one battery cell; typically the battery modules B, may each comprise multiple battery cells connected in series, to provide the second voltage level U 2 by each of the battery modules B|.

A first set of switches ¾ connects the battery modules B, in series to thereby pro- vide said first voltage Ui to the first circuit, in case the all switches ¾ (jmax≤j≤l, jmax=imax-l) are closed. In other words, the positive pole of the first battery mod ¬ ule Bi is connected by a first switch Si of said set of first switches to the negative pole of the second battery module B 2 . The positive pole of the second battery module B 2 is connected by a second switch S 2 to the third battery module B 3 and so forth. The minus pole of the first battery module Bi and the plus pole of the last battery module of the series of battery modules are connected to the first circuit. An optional switch 60 enables to cut the battery 20 from the first cir- cuit 1. In case all switches ¾ of the first set of switches are open the battery modules B, are not connected in series.

A second set of switches P i+ , Pj. enables to connect the battery modules Bj in parallel. In other words, all positive poles are connected by switches P i+ to the posi- tive circuit of the second circuit 2 and all negative poles are connected by switches Ρ μ to the negative circuit of the second circuit. The switches P i+ and Pi. may be omitted as indicated by dotted lines.

The switches Sj and P i+ , P,. can be closed only alternatively. (Only of P 1+ and Pi., which are strictly speaking not part of the second set of switches can always be kept close. Their main purpose is to cut the battery module Bi in case it reached its charging end voltage, whereas the other battery modules still require charging. Not all switches P i+ , P,. must be closed when closing the second set of switches, for example it might be effective to balance aging of the battery modules by use of the first set of switches. Preferably, each battery module compris- es a charging management module for efficiently charging the battery module. The charging management module may communicate, e.g. via a bus system with the controller.

The input side of a DC/DC converter 30 is supplied by the second circuit 2 and its output powers the first circuit 1, i.e. its input side is connected to the second circuit 2 and its output is connected to the first circuit 1. In this example, a switch 61 enables to cut the DC/DC converter from the first circuit 1. Additionally or as alternative, the DC/DC converter 30 may be disabled by the controller as indicated by the dotted line and/or disconnected from the second connection tab T 2 by a further switch that has been omitted for clarity. A capacitor Ci stabilizes the first voltage Ul, for example in case the first set of switches is open and the power demand raises, the capacitor Ci may supply the first circuit until the first set of switches Sj is closed. Preferably, the capacity of the capacitor Ci is selected as explained above to enable energizing the first circuit for a longer period than required for switching and for buffering short peaks in power demand.

The second circuit 2 may comprise typical automotive auxiliary loads, like e.g. a starter motor 37 for cranking the engine, lights, engine control unit, communication and navigation devices and the like. As depicted a generator G for loading the battery may as well be connected to the second circuit 2. Such devices are available for lower costs with a rated voltage of 12V or 24V than for higher voltages like 48V or 60V. Beyond, these 12V or 24V devices have been optimized and approved over decades. It is thus advantageous not to replace 12V or 24V technique where not required. A connection terminal 50 may be used to connect further devices or an auxiliary power source to the second circuit 2, e.g. for charging the battery 20 and/or for energizing the starter motor 37 in case the battery 20 fails to provide sufficient power. The dual voltage power supply may comprise a controller 40. The controller 40 may be connected to the switches and/or the DC/DC converter 30 as indicated by dotted lines to control said devices, i.e. to close or open the switches, to monitor the input and/or output voltage(s) of the DC/DC converter 30, its load status, to switch it on or off, etc.. The controller preferably as monitors the first and/or second voltages Ui ,U 2 and the currents provided by the dual voltage power supply to the first and /or second circuits 1, 2.

Figure 2 shows a similar alternative embodiment. The same reference numerals are for the same or similar details. The description of Fig. 2 can be read as well on Fig. 2, the only difference is that the generator G is connected to a changeo- ver switch 70. Said changeover switch 70 may be controlled by the controller 40 (or a separate controller).The changeover switch 70 enables to connect the generator either to the first or to the second circuit 1, 2, depending on the voltage provided by said generator G and the first and second set of switches. Only in case the first set of switches Sj is closed and the voltage provided by the generator G is above the voltage level Ul, the controller connects the generator G to the first circuit 1 by corresponding activation of the changeover switch. In all other operating states the changeover switch 70 may preferably connect the generator G to the second connection tab 2. The controller may monitor the generator voltage directly and/or the combustion engines rpm and activate the changeover switch 70 depending on at least one of said values.

Figure 3 is a flow diagram illustrating a method for operating a dual voltage pow- er supply, e.g. of this shown in Fig. 1 and 2. In a first step 101 the power demand of the first circuit 1 is determined. The power demand is compared to a power threshold (step 102)

In case the power demand is above the power threshold, the method continues to step 103. Step 103 comprises at least connecting the battery modules B, in series and connecting said series of battery modules B, to the first circuit 1. This can be referred to as establishing a series connection of the battery modules Step 103 may further comprise disconnecting the DC/DC converter 30 from the first and/or second circuit (1, 2). Beyond, a generator voltage may be provided to said first circuit 1 in case the generator voltage is above a threshold, which may be e.g. the first voltage Ui.

In case the power demand is below the power threshold, the method continues to step 103. Step 103 comprises at least disconnecting the series of battery modules (B from the first circuit 1 and connecting the DC/DC converter's 30 input with the second circuit 2 and its output with the first circuit 1. Further, Step 103 may comprise connecting at least two of the battery modules B, in parallel. A generator may be connected to the second circuit 2. List of reference numerals

1 first circuit

2 second circuit

10 voltage power supply

20 battery

30 DC/DC converter

37 starter / cranking engine

40 controller

50 connection terminal

60 switch

60 switch

70 changeover switch

101 monitoring step

102 comparing step

103 establishing a series connection of battery modules

104 disconnecting series connection of battery modules Bj battery modules (i integer, i ma x≤i≤l, imax≥2)

Ci capacitor

G generator / alternator

Pj + switches of first set of switches (i integer, i max <i≤l, i ma x≥2)

P.. switches of first set of switches (i integer, i max ≤i≤l, i max ≥2)

S j switches of first set of switches (j integer, j max ≤j<i-l)

Ti connection tab providing a first voltage Ui

T 2 connection tab providing a second voltage U 2

Ui first voltage level

U 2 second voltage level

Rin loads of the first circuit, n integer

R 2n loads of the first circuit, n integer