Lithium-ion batteries are ubiquitous, but they are not without operational problems. Recently, enthusiasts have solved some of these problems in an interesting way.
Problems with using lithium-ion batteries
We are increasingly using lithium-ion phosphate batteries to power our boat systems. However, despite their many benefits, they can also come with a number of potential problems that are rarely discussed.
In particular, one defective cell can lead to premature failure of the entire battery. And this despite the fact that she could spend only a small percentage of the nominal number of charge / discharge cycles. Of course, this problem is not so common, but it can hardly be called rare.
The second problem is that the components of conventional lithium-ion phosphate batteries are welded or glued together. Unlike traditional lead-acid batteries, which are easy to recycle, these batteries are nearly impossible to recycle.
Is there a solution?
The above problems prompted two scientists to try to find a solution. The first is Carlton Cummings, a mechanical engineer with extensive experience in the field of renewable energy. The second is Amrita Chandana, who received her PhD in fuel cell technology.
A team of two connoisseurs decided to develop a fundamentally different way to manufacture batteries. Their goal was to create a serviceable product that can be recycled and fully repairable. In other words, the battery will be less harmful to the environment and at the first breakdown it will not need to be changed.
“We had to come up with a new method of making batteries that doesn't involve gluing the cells together,” says Cummings. “We started by looking at the entire life cycle of a battery.
The essence of the solution was to use mechanical fasteners to compress the elements and other components together. Individual cells are standard industrial units - our experience is how to assemble these cells into a battery,” says Cummings. The result is a range of batteries that can be recycled.
Distributors are expected to handle repairs and maintenance. However, given the example of an expedition yacht going to remote locations, Cummings says they will be able to train a crew member with engineering knowledge to diagnose problems and replace needed items in the field.
So far, Cummings and Chandana have not found enough funding to commercialize their batteries. But the batteries closest in concept and implementation are Aceleron's Essential series batteries. They are not waterproof, Aceleron is already hard at work on the IP67 version.
Aceleron Essential batteries are also bulkier and more expensive than standard lithium-ion batteries. In doing so, they generally solve the problems described above. Recyclable, repairable, durable.
The physical dimensions correspond to common Type 31 battery sizes and configurations that are commonly used for conventional 100-120 Ah deep cycle batteries. They are available in 12V, 24V and 48V versions, with capacities of 100Ah, 50Ah and 25Ah respectively. Maritime distribution in Europe is handled by Merlin. Estimated battery price: £1,194
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