What is the best battery for medical devices?
One of the most energy-hungry portable medical devices is the heart defibrillator. The battery draws in excess of 10 amperes during preparation stages. Several shocks may be needed to get the patient's heart going again. The battery must not hamper the best possible patient care.
Most defibrillators are powered by nickel-cadmium. nickel-metal-hydride is also being used but there is concern of short service life. In a recent study, however, it was observed that a defibrillator battery cycles far less than expected. Instead of the anticipated 200?cycles after two years of seemingly heavy use, less than 60 cycles had been delivered on the battery examined. 'Smart' battery technology makes such information possible. With fewer cycles needed, the switch to higher energy-dense batteries becomes a practical alternative.
Sealed lead-acid batteries are often used to power defibrillators intended for standby mode. Although bulky and heavy, the Lead-acid battery has a low self-discharge and can be kept in prolonged ready mode without the need to recharge. Lead-acid battery performs well on high current spurts. During the rest periods the battery disperses the depleted acid concentrations back into the electrode plate. Lead-acid battery would not be suitable for a sustained high load.
The medical industry is moving towards lithium-ion. The robust and economical 18650 cells make this possible. The short but high current spurts needed for defibrillators are still a challenge. Paralleling the cells and adding current-limiting circuits that allow short spikes of high current will help overcome this hurdle.