Lithium batteries for Submarines

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Hillhater
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Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by Hillhater » Feb 12, 2018 11:06 pm

The Worlds Naval engineers have traditionally shied away from Lithium batteries to replace the traditional giant Lead Acid cells used in Diesel Electric subs.
But at last, one ...Japan, has finally decided Lithium technology has too many advantages to ignor..
Japan will likely become the first country in the world to equip diesel-electric submarines with lithium-ion batteries. GS Yuasa, a Kyoto-based developer and manufacturer of battery systems, said in a 21 February press statement that such batteries will be mounted on two Soryu-class boats currently in build for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

According to Jane's Fighting Ships, eight Soryu-class boats are currently in service with the JMSDF.

Four others are currently under construction, two of which, SS 511 and SS 512, are expected to be commissioned in 2020 and 2021 respectively, and will be fitted with lithium-ion batteries in place of lead-acid batteries and a Stirling air-independent propulsion (AIP) system.

"At this moment Japanese submarines use lead-acid batteries as a source of power, but submarines being produced since the fiscal year 2015 will use lithium-ion batteries instead," said the company.

GS Yuasa said it will start producing the batteries for the two boats in a special factory in Shiga Prefecture in March 2017, with deliveries expected to begin in August 2018.

GS Yuasa said it started developing lithium-ion batteries for submarines in the 1990s. In the first half of 2000s the company joined a research and development project by Japan's Ministry of Defense and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

There is speculation within Japanese military circles that GS Yuasa will also provide lithium-ion batteries for a new (post-Soryu) class submarine. A GS Yuasa spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.
And...
?...Two types of Lithium cells were proposed for submarines, lithium nickel cobalt aluminium oxide (NCA) manufactured by GS Yuasa; and lithium-titanate (LTO) from Toshiba. The JMSDF will use NCA-type batteries whereas Kobayashi believes LTO types were offered to Australia for its Future Submarine proposal.
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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by jonescg » Feb 12, 2018 11:33 pm

I thought one of the bonuses of the lead batteries was ballast... Similar application to locomotives.

But the volumetric energy density would surely mean more time underwater.

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by Hillhater » Feb 13, 2018 2:15 am

I suspect they work on the principle of using a similar weight/volume as lead Lead used, and just benefit from the enormous extra capacity that lithium gives.
Some of the big advantages are not only more time underwater, but much less time in the surface to recharge , more speed throughout the discharge period and no gas risk,
Being Military, (and very new) its unlikely we will get too much detail of exactly what or how its implimented
I was not aware they were using Stirling engines or sealed system , Methanol+oxygen fueled, steam turbines, to drive generators whilst submerged.
....where is that "Old Salty" Spinningmagnets , when you need some inside info on the navy ?? :)
....and how about them working with Lithium batteries as far back as 1962 !! :shock:
The retired submarine commander believes that there is no clear single lithium-ion solution as a submarine main battery, so he predicted future submarines could optimise different power sources. For mobile operations, for example, NCA batteries and diesel is ideal, while an ambush submarine would operate better on fuel cells, LTO and diesel. The lowest-cost option would be LTO and diesel.
Japan's introduction of a submarine employing Li-ion batteries is the culmination of many years of research that commenced in 1962. The first Li-ion battery was ready in 1974 but it did not meet requirements.
EDIT...
A little insight to the Australian Naval interest in this topic for our next choice of sub..
https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/sea10 ... ce-part-2/
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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by spinningmagnets » Feb 13, 2018 10:00 am

Speak of the devil...I was a mechanic on a nuclear-powered submarine for a handful of years, back in 1977-81. We had a back-up diesel generator and a huge lead-acid battery, in case there was ever a problem with the reactor.

I was told that if the torpedo room ever flooded with salt-water (just above the ships battery, under the floors), then a byproduct would be chlorine gas. Nasty stuff. I don't really know much about any of the new stuff. I was aware the Swedish submarines had an auxiliary Stirling engine to be able to charge underwater (no snorkel needed, no air needed, oxidized liquid fuel).

Nice article link. I wasn't aware the Germans were using methanol to get methane to feed a fuel cell. If anyone could do that (as good as it can possibly be done), I'd bet a dollar on the Germans.

I can tell you that diesel-electric submarines are quieter than nuclear submarines...until they run the diesel. Since then, I have been an advocate for maintaining a handful of electric submarines for coastal defense, simple and inexpensive, super-quiet. I've seen the phrase "littoral" a while back, and had to look it up. It has to do with shallow water, such as near-coast operations, and possibly even going up a large river for a distance. Obviously that would require a smaller submarine, and the smallest US sub is the Los Angeles class, a large deep-water hunting submarine.

The form-factor of any possible engine that would be used to charge the submarines' lithium battery would only take-up one level of a sub, so the configuration of any design could be made very flat (not that being thin and flat is a good idea, I'm just saying an electric-drive makes the size and shape very flexible).

The operational depth only needs to be deep enough to pass under super-tankers. Might be useful for wartime reconnaissance insertion and pick-up?

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by macribs » Feb 13, 2018 4:42 pm

Oh man talk about the worst place to the get a thermal runaway. Not many places to run if batteries catches fire on a submerged submarine. Well at least they won't be using HK Lipo's :lol:

Even if they seal off that battery compartment in case of thermal runaway, and flood comparment with water, them burning li ion's would make the O2 needed to keep fire going? Or would flooding with seawater be able to stop thermal runaway and put out fire?

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by spinningmagnets » Feb 13, 2018 5:31 pm

I can't speak for the current theories of best design trends, but...the battery compartment wouldn't have much airspace to flood, and the sub I was on maintained several large tanks with fresh water in them. Of course, any build-up of pressure would be vented to the outside...And also, I would have the battery compartment divided into several subdivisions that are isolatable...

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by Hillhater » Feb 13, 2018 6:53 pm

Details are obviously limited, but if you read the articles, they are well aware of the dangers and safety measures needed to deal with all known possibilitirs.
In reality, the thermal "runaway" danger seems to have been the main reason Lithium was not used on subs many years ago, but modern NCA and LTO cells are much safer anyway, and the dangers better understood.
The cells are arranged in multiple thermally segregated compartments, with temp sensors, cooling systems, fire suppresants, etc etc ....but there is always a risk.
As SM alluded, the Lead Acid batteries were not exactly a pleasant option to live with, acid , poisonous Chlorine gas,
Explosive Hydrogen gas, etc ....none of which are ideal in a sealed/ confined space !
My experience (obviously on a much smaller scale,) ...is that immersion in salty water is one of the best ways to contain and extinguish a Lipo "thermal event".
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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by jonescg » Feb 13, 2018 7:58 pm

Spinningmags - I assume the reactor section of a nuclear sub is able to be opened to the sea should anything go runaway? Same thing could be done for lithium batteries going thermal too. Water, and lots of it.

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by spinningmagnets » Feb 13, 2018 9:16 pm

I was on a 637 class that was built in 1969. Don't be too impressed that I was on a nuke, I was the gear head that ran the diesel.

In spite of Chernobyl, Fukushima, and 3-mile island, Navy nukes have had a very good safety record.

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by Hillhater » Feb 14, 2018 12:33 am

I posted a Youtube link on the Solar,Wind, Nuke, Coal , etc thread, about the Thorium reactors.
In that there were some interviews with the guys who originally developed the Uranium reactors for the US subs and one comment was that they felt the sub reactor could be made safe simply because it was only 60MW , that it could be packed inside enough steel and lead to contain an "accident" , but with anything bigger, the temps and pressures would be just too great to contain.
The other comment of note was....that if the US navy had not funded the development of those small reactors, and in doing so adsorbed enormous research and testing costs, other Technologies (eg Thorium ). would likely have been used for utility power stations,
But of course we also know Nixon also bowed to the Military demand for the reactors ability to act as a source for Wepons grade Plutonium .
.....There is actually a quote from the project leader who was told to ..."Shut down the Thorium LFTR project, fire everyone, and send the money to the Fast breeder Project"..!!
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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by jonescg » Feb 14, 2018 3:29 am

And I think that's the reason we'll never see civilian ships using nuclear reactors. There's about 52,000 merchant ships on the seas right now - if any number of them were fuelled by a <60 MW reactor, the anti-proliferation treaties might as well be ripped up. How hard would it be to keep an eye on spent fuel and the resources potentially being re-directed when there's tens of thousands of vessels on the seas?

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by Hillhater » Feb 14, 2018 5:56 am

There is a big difference between wepons grade plutonium and fissile uranium fuel.
But i guess a "dirty" wepon could alway be constructed.
Nuclear powered civilian ships ?.....well the Russians have a fleet of Ice breakers that are nuke powered. ?
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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by spinningmagnets » Feb 15, 2018 9:12 pm

I've wondered this for years, and someone finally clued me in to the fact that nuke missiles have to have their warheads refreshed every so often, and light water uranium reactors can produce fresh plutonium as a byproduct. I don't know how much of an influence this on policy decisions, but..I'd like to see an ultra safe thorium reactor design that was drawn up by the US Navy.

I wouldn't have a problem with the largest size of civilian cargo ships trying out a new design of thorium nuke as a powerplant. Every time someone mentions that thorium reactors still have issues that need to be resolved...I just imagine the Germans and Japanese designing one with a clever solution to any problem you could imagine.

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by Hillhater » Feb 15, 2018 10:20 pm

spinningmagnets wrote:
Feb 15, 2018 9:12 pm
..I'd like to see an ultra safe thorium reactor design that was drawn up by the US Navy.

I wouldn't have a problem with the largest size of civilian cargo ships trying out a new design of thorium nuke as a powerplant. Every time someone mentions that thorium reactors still have issues that need to be resolved...I just imagine the Germans and Japanese designing one with a clever solution to any problem you could imagine.
Maybe not a US Navy, but there are U S Companies with designs ready...
http://thorconpower.com
http://www.moltexenergy.com
The barrier seems to be finding finance and clearing regulatory authorisation. ( the association with traditional "Nuclear" throws up red flags it seems), ....so its most likely somewhere like China or india , Indonesia ? even, ..will have these operating first.....within the next 3-5 years possibly.
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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by spinningmagnets » Feb 16, 2018 11:58 am

When my submarine pulled into Australia (Perth, a lovely city with fun people), there were protesters at the Navy base gate with anti-nuke signs. We braced ourselves for trouble and planned to take quite a bit of abuse when passing through the gate (without causing an international incident). The protesters actually turned out to be quite nice, and pleasant to talk to.

They were quite comfortable telling us they were retired, and had been hired by a newspaper ad to protest with placards, which would be provided. Just bring your own lawn chair and cooler full of beer, payment in cash after the news cameras had left for the day...

I have since discovered that the coal lobby in Aus is quite pervasive, wealthy, and powerful.

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by macribs » Feb 16, 2018 1:00 pm

Hillhater wrote:
Feb 14, 2018 5:56 am
There is a big difference between wepons grade plutonium and fissile uranium fuel.
But i guess a "dirty" wepon could alway be constructed.
Nuclear powered civilian ships ?.....well the Russians have a fleet of Ice breakers that are nuke powered. ?
I once saw those icebreakers, big ass mfo. They where docked in the port of murmansk way north in russia. I was told by locals that all 4 of the nuclear icebreakers where owned and operated by the russian government. They also funded the build and ongoing maintenance of the ships.

I don't think even the fall of the wall, the end of the cold war or high scale corruption managed to get those nuclear icebreakers over from state property to private hands, even if most of whatever else military hardware was suddenly for sale to the highest bidder. The nuclear icebreakers still managed to stay state property, probably wouldn't want anyone to to get their hand on the waste?

Afaik those icebreakers are still running strong, its been like 15+ years since I spotted those giants. Working the north east passage these days I think.
Last edited by macribs on Feb 16, 2018 6:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by billvon » Feb 16, 2018 2:58 pm

spinningmagnets wrote:
Feb 15, 2018 9:12 pm
I've wondered this for years, and someone finally clued me in to the fact that nuke missiles have to have their warheads refreshed every so often, and light water uranium reactors can produce fresh plutonium as a byproduct.
Well, they can't produce "good" plutonium - it is very dirty, and consists of trace quantities of the material inside incredibly radioactive nuclear waste. So it's not like someone can pull fuel rods out of old reactors and use them in bombs. Indeed, the technology needed to remotely handle and extract the plutonium is not that far from the technology needed to build a breeder reactor to begin with.
I don't know how much of an influence this on policy decisions, but..I'd like to see an ultra safe thorium reactor design that was drawn up by the US Navy.
That would be great, although there are a lot of other options that are already tested that are out there (like CANDU reactors - you can use natural uranium; no enrichment needed.)
--bill von

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Re: Lithium batteries for Submarines

Post by sjd.aliyan » Feb 17, 2018 12:18 am

what you can do if they catch fire beneath the ocean?

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