Saft launches Li-ion battery for military engines

Saft has unveiled a prototype 28V Lithium-ion battery system for starting up military vehicle engines and ‘silent-watch’ reconnaissance missions.

Speaking from the international land/air defence and security exhibition, Eurosatory 2010, in Paris, Franck Poirier, business development manager at Saft, told The Engineer that his company has been working for the last two years on several US military vehicle programmes to demonstrate Li-ion battery technology for non-hybrid vehicles for engine starting, lighting, ignition and silent-watch applications.  

‘We are fairly confident we need another two years to get our product fully qualified,’ he said.

Poirier said Saft sees its Li-ion battery concept as a high-performance alternative to conventional lead-acid batteries for armoured military vehicles.

The 28V batteries are designed to deliver large reserves of power for engine starting and supporting onboard electrical systems throughout the long periods of autonomous operation demanded by extended silent-watch missions.

It is claimed that the use of Li-ion technology will significantly reduce battery weight and onboard footprint, while also ensuring a longer service life.

Poirier said the idea will be to increase the number of  charge cycles, which is the process of using all of the battery’s power. 

‘The idea is to reach something around 2,000 to 3,000 cycles,’ he said. ‘Today lead acid is advertised by the manufacturers around 500 cycles.’

Also at Eurosatory, Saft will be demonstrating applications for its Li-ion technology in a new emergency-power-supply concept. The Renewable Energy Mobile Utility System (REMUS) is reportedly capable of providing a utility-scale electricity supply that is powered by a diesel generator and supplemented by wind power, solar power and a Saft rechargeable battery.

US emergency-power-equipment supplier Titan Energy Development demonstrated a prototype REMUS powered by Saft Li-ion technology for the US Department of Defense in 2008.

Poirier said the use of supplemental renewable energy decreases the need for large amounts of diesel fuel, which is especially helpful in disaster areas and difficult-to-access environments.

The system delivers AC power from its generator and coordinates three different DC inputs from renewable resources. Poirier said that the Saft rechargeable Li-ion battery system, when fuelled by renewable energy, sustains power output, even in the event of a diesel-fuel shortage. The Li-ion battery pack can also be recharged with the onboard 40kW diesel generator.

Saft has used the same battery system to power several US military hybrid-electric demonstrators, including General Dynamics Land System’s Advanced Ground Mobility demonstrator.