Lithium-ion batteries are potential game-changer in underwater applications

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have the potential to be one of the best sources of power for Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs), torpedoes, and submarines, because their compact designs bring higher efficiency and strengthen reliability for underwater applications, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to GlobalData’s report, ‘Lithium-ion Batteries for Underwater Applications-Thematic Research’, defense applications currently represent less than 1% of the total Li-ion battery demand but demand for LIB batteries in defense applications is expected to increase in the near future.

Captain Nurettin Sevi, Turkish Navy, Defense Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Even though there are some concerns with LIB such as thermal runaway, fire and explosion risks, it is the fastest growing and most promising battery technology. It has become a real emerging technology across a wide range of civil and defense applications. Furthermore, it has the potential to be one of the best sources of power for defense underwater applications because their compact designs bring higher efficiency and strengthen reliability for underwater applications.”

While lead-acid batteries have been the standard used in submarines since the end of the 19th century, their dominance is increasingly challenged by a new generation of LIBs that offer better power and energy density. For instance, the Japanese Navy’s latest Soryu-class submarine fitted with LIB was commissioned in March 2020. Moreover, South Korea has also developed LIBs that were created for the country’s next-generation attack submarines. In addition to this, the most prominent submarine designers and suppliers such as Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems, Naval Group, Saab Kockums and Navantia have developed LIB for their submarines.

In addition to these developments, the US’ latest Special Forces delivery vehicle, the Dry Combat Submersible (DCS), Russian unmanned mini-submarine, known as Surrogat, and Thyssenkrupp’s MUM project (Modifiable Underwater Mothership) are/will also be powered by LIB.

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