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A durable power source for data acquisition at depths of 6,000m

14 June 2013

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries power long-range autonomous underwater vehicles while reducing whole life costs.

Steatite Batteries is providing reliable and durable power for the National Oceanography Centre’s (NOC) autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), to help them stay underwater for longer.

Travelling to depths of 6,000m on ocean research missions, the NOC’s earlier AUVs used alkaline and lithium polymer battery packs. However, with the increasing deployment demands for longer endurance of autosubs and underwater vehicles, the NOC required a fresh approach to power, so it turned to Steatite Batteries.

Steatite worked with the NOC to develop a lithium primary battery that not only increased the AUVs’ endurance, meaning they could maintain limited deployment and recovery times by staying underwater for longer, but also reduced the whole life cost.

The lithium primary power pack also offered a number of other benefits over the existing alkaline batteries, including increased energy density, weight saving, higher stable head voltage and a better operating temperature range.

The pack comprises ten batteries, giving 25.2Vdc at 152Ah, housed in a frame within a pressure vessel

Paul Edwards, Business Development Manager at Steatite Batteries, comments: “Lithium batteries are being successfully used in oceanographic applications but don’t have the endurance required for powering long-range underwater missions.

"We replaced the NOC’s alkaline and lithium polymer batteries with new lithium thionyl chloride packs, which were tested to meet UN testing criteria part III 38.3 rev 5, clauses T1 – T5."

The pack comprises ten batteries, giving 25.2Vdc at 152Ah, housed in a frame within a pressure vessel.

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