The Design & Safety Challenges of a Lithium-ion Main Storage Battery for Conventional Submarines

BMT Presentation at Pacific 2017

Clock Time: 11:30 Thursday 5 October




The current geo-political environment dictates that conventional submarines remain a popular choice for many nations, however current underwater range and endurance is a key disadvantage of the diesel-electric design. The application of emerging battery technology seeks to address this weakness and provide significant tactical and operational advantages to conventional submarine operators.

At the forefront of emerging battery technology is lithium-ion batteries which can offer far superior performance compared to alternative technologies. The challenge facing submarine designers is the integration of this disruptive technology into conventional submarines without compromising reliability or safety. Of particular concern are the fire safety implications of lithiumion batteries, a technology with limited application in the maritime domain. This creates unknown risks in an already challenging and unforgiving underwater environment.

This presentation considers the issues associated with the integration of two lithium-ion cell size classes (small 30-50Ah and large 400+Ah), and two different chemistries (Nickel Cobalt Aluminium-oxide and Iron Phosphate), focused on battery compartment arrangement and fire risk.

A concept design is proposed for a large diesel-electric submarine with a lithium-ion main storage battery, including battery compartment arrangement, and used as the basis for computational fire modelling of thermal runaway scenarios for each of the different battery types. The results provide an understanding of the operational risks introduced by use of lithium-ion batteries and of the most suitable prevention, detection and suppression systems.

This is a key first step in enabling the critical advantages offered by this technology to be exploited without compromising system integrity and safety.


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