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It's a bit more complicated than a few years ago. Here's the description and operation. The system voltage will be lower after running a while as the generator is commanded to a lower duty cycle for fuel economy reasons.
It performs diagnostics and driver notification.
The battery condition is estimated during ignition-off and during ignition-on. During ignition-off the state-of-charge (SOC) of the battery is determined by measuring the open-circuit voltage. The SOC is a function of the acid concentration and the internal resistance of the battery, and is estimated by reading the battery open circuit voltage when the battery has been at rest for several hours.
The SOC can be used as a diagnostic tool to tell the customer or the dealer the condition of the battery. Throughout ignition-on, the algorithm continuously estimates SOC based on adjusted net amp hours, battery capacity, initial SOC, and temperature.
While running, the battery degree of discharge is primarily determined by a battery current sensor, which is integrated to obtain net amp hours.
In addition, the EPM function is designed to perform regulated voltage control (RVC) to improve battery SOC, battery life, and fuel economy. This is accomplished by using knowledge of the battery SOC and temperature to set the charging voltage to an optimum battery voltage level for recharging without detriment to battery life.
The Charging System Description and Operation is divided into 3 sections. The first section describes the charging system components and their integration into the EPM. The second section describes charging system operation. The third section describes the instrument panel cluster (IPC) operation of the charge indicator, driver information center (DIC) messages, and voltmeter operation.
Charging System Components
The generator is a serviceable component. If there is a diagnosed failure of the generator it must be replaced as an assembly. The engine drive belt drives the generator. When the rotor is spun it induces an alternating current (AC) into the stator windings. The AC voltage is then sent through a series
of diodes for rectification. The rectified voltage has been converted into a direct current (DC) for use by the vehicles electrical system to maintain electrical loads and the battery charge. The voltage regulator integral to the generator controls the output of the generator. It is not serviceable. The voltage regulator controls the amount of current provided to the rotor. If the generator has field control circuit failure, the generator defaults to an output voltage of 13.8 volts.
Body Control Module (BCM)
The body control module (BCM) is a GMLAN device. It communicates with the engine control module (ECM) and the instrument panel cluster (IPC) for electrical power management (EPM) operation. The BCM determines the output of the generator and sends the information to the ECM for control of the generator field control circuit. It monitors the generator field duty cycle signal circuit information sent from the ECM for control of the generator. It monitors a battery current sensor, the battery positive voltage circuit, and estimated battery temperature to determine battery state of charge (SOC). The BCM sends idle boost requests to the ECM.
Battery Current Sensor
The battery current sensor is a serviceable component that is connected to the negative battery cable at the battery. The battery current sensor is a 3-wire hall effect current sensor. The battery current sensor monitors the battery current. It directly inputs to the BCM. It creates a 5 volt pulse width modulation (PWM) signal of 128 Hz with a duty cycle of 0-100 percent. Normal duty cycle is between 5-95 percent. Between 0-5 percent and 95-100 percent are for diagnostic purposes.
Engine Control Module (ECM)
The ECM directly controls the generator field control circuit input to the generator. The ECM receives control decisions based on messages from the BCM. It monitors the generators generator field duty cycle signal circuit and sends the information to the BCM.
Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC)
The IPC provides a means of customer notification in case of a failure and a voltmeter. There are 2 means of notification, a charge indicator and the driver information center (DIC) SERVICE BATTERY CHARGING SYSTEM message.
Charging System Operation
The purpose of the charging system is to maintain the battery charge and vehicle loads. There are 6 modes of operation and they include: