The Design & Safety Challenges of a Lithium-ion Main Storage Battery for Conventional Submarines
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 lithium-ion batteries, a technology with limited application in the maritime domain. This creates unknown risks in an already challenging and unforgiving underwater environment.
This paper 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.
Modelling & Decision Support Lead
Aidan is a Chartered Engineer with over 10 years’ experience in the Maritime and Defence industry. Aidan specialises in risk analysis, numerical modelling, simulation and cost estimating in support of options analysis, acquisition support and asset management services.
He completed his Master Engineering in 2016, specialising in Submarine Fire Safety with a focus on lithium-ion batteries and was a key developer of BMT’s Submarine Design Exploration Application.
Tel: +61 (0) 3 8620 6165