October 15, 2015

Japan's Lithium-ion Battery Advantage, Expressions of Interest, Snorkel

This is a heavy duty Japanese made Lithium-ion Battery (LIB) of the type to be used in an energy storage facility in Chile (Photo courtesy GS Yuasa). GS Yuasa do not advertise LIBs for submarines but they would be in its "Industrial and Military" area.

"wispywood2344" has estimated electric power capacity of Japanese Ministry of Defence-TRDI developed LIB and Japanese Navy conventional lead-acid battery (LAB) on my blog before.
The diagram above reflect the dimensions of a Japanese conventional LAB for submarine. According to http://blog.livedoor.jp/wispywood2344/archives/54874167.html when housing the unit cells by using this space of the battery depicted to the full, "it can house the Li-ion battery capacity of 155.52L per group module." The "wispywood2344" goes on to say "When the volumetric energy density of the submarine for a [GS Yuasa] lithium ion cell is that it is equivalent to "LEV50", its value will be 218Wh / L. Thus, the total capacity per group module will be 33.9kWh." The battery depicted may weigh 770kg (just a small part of what a submarine uses). Also see http://blog.livedoor.jp/wispywood2344/archives/55055062.html 
What all this means I cannot claim to know.

Please connect this article with the text and reader Comments of Submarine Matters’ article Japan fine-tuning campaign for Australia Future Submarine, October 12, 2015.


The Japanese Government and private industry have been methodically analysing the performance of Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) intended for use in submarines for more than a decade. LIBs may be the technology area that Japan has the greatest lead over its French (DCNS) and German (TKMS-HDW) competitors.

It appears that recent performance data on LIBs for submarine are kept very confidential by all 3 countries, on commercial and national security grounds. This makes it very difficult to ascertain whether any of the 3 have superior LIBs.

The US may also be developing LIBs that may be useful for submarine use. It is unknown whether the US Government (and US private industry) would exchange more LIB technical information with the US’s Pacific ally, Japan, or its NATO allies, Germany and France.

Japan's GS Yuasa makes LIBs for a wide variety of heavy industrial and military (including submarine) uses. The heat sink-weight of batteries and other measures should contribute to safety.


In a Comment on October 12, 2015 at 10:33 PM "S" provided a translation from a 2007 Japanese Ministry of Defence report on LIBs  http://www.mod.go.jp/j/approach/hyouka/seisaku/results/18/jigo/sankou/jigo05_sankou.pdf  

“FY2006 Policy Evaluation Report (Result of Policy Implementation)” by Department of Finance & Equipment from Oct/2006 to Mar/2007

Project Name: Research on new main batteries for submarine

Policy System: I-4-(2)-2 Research (Development)

We studied high performance main batteries as main batteries for next submarine, which is alternative of current lead acid batteries, and got necessary technological data.

Budget: About 4,6 billion yen


1. Aim of Project
Lead acid batteries have drawbacks such as heavy weight, large volume, cumbersome treatment and long charging time. The aims of this project are to study lithium ion batteries with high energy density as main batteries for next submarine, and to demonstrate their feasibility and effectiveness.

2. Status of Achievement

Effect of Achievement

We established technology base of large lithium ion batteries with high capacitance for main batteries of submarine by achieving following technological terms (a-d). We obtained technological data on performance, safety and life of submarine main batteries, which would contribute to enhancement of stealth ability, motion performance and attack avoidance ability, extension of submerging period, and improvement of maintenance

(a) Energy density
By adopting lithium ion batteries, we realized new batteries with twice higher energy density per unit weight volume than that of lead acid batteries.

(b) Charging efficiency
We confirmed that lithium ion batteries showed more efficient charging and lower reduction in capacity at high efficient discharging than lead acid batteries.

(c) Safety
We confirmed that lithium ion batteries ensured designed safety in overcharging, overdischarging and external short circuit situations.

(e) Repeatable numbers of charge and discharge cycle
We confirmed that lithium ion batteries showed 1.5 times larger repeatable numbers of charge and discharge cycle than lead acid batteries, having excellent life time.

(2) Period of Achievement

We started research trial in 2002, finished laboratory testing by 2005.

(3) Profit
In this research, we have tried realization of lithium ion batteries with high capacity considering implementation and established new technology base in a short period.

["S" in Comments [October 12, 2015 at 5:22 PM] indicated (along the lines) that Japanese research on new main batteries for submarine revealed that the energy density of LIBs was twice that of LABs and lifetime of LIBs was 1.5 times that of LABs. 

But, from analysis of “Life Cycle Cost (LCC) Management Reports on 23SS (LABs-Soryu) (see Soryu Table) and 27/28SS(LIBs-Soryu)” and other budget papers, S concludes that the life time of current LIBs will be twice that of LABs [that is higher than "1.5 times"] and that prices of LIBs will be high. When adding 24-years of operational life of 22 Japanese submarines with 30-years operational life of the 8 Australian submarines, more than 300,000 LIB unit cells will be needed. There may be a reduction in the price of LIBs caused by mass production effects.] 

A good commentary on Submarine Lithium Ion Batteries is at Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) October 2015 edition, Vol. 41, No.8, pages 46 to 48.


Building a submarine is clearly a complex matter with 100,000s of parts and aspects.

Japan is liaising with Australian industry more closely and is seeking Expressions of Interest in the diverse areas for any future SEA 1000 contract – see http://gateway.icn.org.au/project/3720/sea-1000-japanese-government-industry.

An example under http://gateway.icn.org.au/project/3720/sea-1000-japanese-government-industry is "3. Building" item "06. Inspection Service" which asks those interested to "Express interest for any submarine inspection service opportunities". S has provided examples of "Inspection Service" as follows:

"According to NDS Z 2003 C (2) (Standards of Ministry of Defence: Non-destructive inspection of war ship steel and classification of its result), following non-destructive inspections are needed for steel; i) magnetic particle inspection, ii) dye penetrant inspection, iii) ultrasonic testing, and iv) radiographic testing. Qualification from level 3 to level 1 is required for each inspector."

For "3. Building" item "02. Welding" Inspection Service" it does not go down to the level of detail on whether Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) of pressure hull naval steel NS110 is required. By way of explanation at Comments [October 16, 2015 at 12:42AM] S advised "NDS Z 2004 C (Non-destructive inspection of weld zone of war ship steel and classification of its result) is commonly adopted steels including NS80 and NS110. NDIS0601 or JIS Z 2305:2013 (Non-destructive testing-Qualification and certification of NDT personnel) is adopted for the qualifications of an inspector. ISO 9712:2014, which is ISO version of JIS Z 2305:2013 will be adopted for an Australian inspector.

Some anonymous advice is "the MOD may release a list of subcontractors which is partially disclosed. Translation and understanding of NDS (MOD Standards) are also very important. There are so many things to do."


The MOD has highlighted some of its research achievements in its "Technical Research & Development Institute, R&D, Department of Development" website at  http://www.mod.go.jp/trdi/en/research/gijutu_senpa_en.html . Highlights include Sonar System for Next-Generation Submarines, Heavy Weight Torpedo G-RX6 and Snorkel System for Next-Generation Submarines.

Snorkel System for Next-Generation Submarines shortened as Improved Snorkel comes with this diagram and description:

"In order for our submarines to cope with the future situation properly, we are also developing and implementing the snorkel power generation system which to be smaller size and higher power to make platform more silent and covert." (Photo and text courtesy Japanese Ministry of Defence)

The most publicised advantage of the Improved Snorkel system for the future Soryu is its ability to operate in typhoons/major storms, often described as higher sea states.

An equally important, though lesser known innovation, is its higher power allowing snorts to be quicker, thus reducing the near surfaced danger period. The ability of LIBs to be charged more quickly than lead-acid batteries is a major advantage. The smaller size of the snorkel should reduce the chances of it being seen visually or by radar. 

In Comments [at October 15, 2015 at 12:42 AM] S advised (along the lines) There is very little information on the Improved Snorkel. S estimated air intake velocity for the big snorkel. The diameter is estimated from a picture of snorkel and the statement from the Japanese Navy the “snorkel of the Soryu is as big as a drum”. When that snorkel it operating to two Soryu standard 12V/25/25SB diesel engines the maximum intake velocity at full power operation is very fast (135km/h). Even in gentle rain, but not substantial wave conditions, kilograms of water will be introduced into the snorkel in an hour at a 135km/h intake velocity. The design of the Improved Snorkel system is a critical factor for quick charging the LIBs."

S added "By the way, acoustic stealth performance is not expected in snorkel operation. MAN diesels show 100-115DB of noise, I do not think that new KHI diesel engine will show drastic reduction in noise. Current 12V/25/25SB generates terrible noise in surface operation. Also huge amount of exhaust bubbles from the snorkel generates easy-to-detect noise.”


A stealthy snorkel system may disperse diesel exhaust better in the water so it is less easily chemically “sniffed” by manned aircraft, UAVs, surface craft or other sensors. Heat/infra-red signature or water disturbance by snorkel, exhaust or snorkel wake may be less. Snorkels can be better camouflaged for night, day and storm use. Snorkels can be better streamlined allowing a submarine to operate on snorkel more quickly through the water. Perhaps a snorkel can be made taller,  allowing “snorting” at a deeper-safer depth for the main sail and main hull of the submarine. 



wispywood2344 said...

Hi Pete.

I had estimated electric power capacity of TRDI-developed-LIB and JMSDF-conventional-LAB on my blog before.

The results are as follows;
LIB unit (W444-D431-H1647[mm]/770kg) : ca.34kWh (at 100% state of charge)
LAB unit (W444-D432-H1665[mm]/880kg) : ca.20kWh (at 100% state of charge)

For your information.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

NDS Z 2004 C (Non-destructive inspection of weld zone of war ship steel and classification of its result) is commonly adopted steels including NS80 and NS110. NDIS0601 or JIS Z 2305:2013 (Non-destructive testing-Qualification and certification of NDT personnel) is adopted for qualification of inspector. ISO 9712:2014 which is ISO version of JIS Z 2305:2013 will be adopted for Aussie inspector.


Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
How reliable are the Batteries on SSK Submarines. Can they cross the Atlantic and Pacific on batteries.

Peter Coates said...

Hi wispywood2344

Thanks. I have placed a diagram from http://blog.livedoor.jp/wispywood2344/archives/54874167.html in the text. All very expert technical :)

I have also mentioned http://blog.livedoor.jp/wispywood2344/archives/55055062.html



Peter Coates said...

Thanks S

I have added your comment to the text.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

There has been no operational testing of Lithium-ion Batteries on submarines that I know of.

However I suspect that Japanese testbed submarine TSS-3601 Asashio which was previously used to test Stirling AIP may well be now testing Lithium-ion Batteries.

If S's approximate calculations are correct a future submarine (operating by 2025) on Lithium-ion Batteries may be able to stay completely submerged for 30 days at 4 knots permitting a range of 2,900 nautical miles. See 28SS at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/soryus-on-lithium-ion-batteries.html



Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

On further thought TSS-3607 Fuyushio, converted to "Training" submarine on 15 March 2011, may also be performing as a Lithium-ion Battery testbed as well as TSS-3601 Asashio (or instead of it).

If Lithium-ion Battery submarines can acheive a range of 2,900 nautical miles fully submerged they could cross the Atlantic though not the Pacific. Crossing the South China Sea would be nice!



MHalblaub said...


34 kWh are about 120 seconds AK or maximum power for a Type 214 electric motor.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I am expecting that energy densities of LABs and LIBs are ca.40kWh and ca.120kWh, respectively. But, I highly appreciate wispywood2344 who tries to shed light on performance of LIBs mathematically.


Peter Coates said...

Hi S, MHalblaub and wispywood2344

My knowlege doesn't extend to assessing the performance measures of submarine diesels, motors and batteries - so I appreciate your expertise and comments :)



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Advantage of LIBs is to provide exceptional speed for conventional submarine which may reach nearly 30knot.

Submerged speed is proportional to nearly square of output power of main motors for all speed range [1] in Soryu. But, reference [2] show that maximum submerged speed is proportional to cube of output power. So I assumed maximum speed (Vmax) of 29SS is proportional to cube root of total energy density of LIBs which will be at least 3 times higher than that LABs (maximum velocity 20knot/h) [3].
Vmax = 20knot/h x 1.4 (cube root of 3) = 28knot/h.

[1] NDS (Standard for Ministry of Defense, Japan) F8004-2, General rule for Submarine Electrical Propulsion System, Part 2: Submarine equipped Alternative Current Main motor, page 38, Basic performance, you can find figures such as motor output 5900PS( motor ration 190/min: efficiency 92.0%), 4017PS(169/min,92.0%),397PS(76/min,NA), 56.8PS(39/min,73.0%) for submerged operation, these values correspond to 20knot/h, 18knot/h, -knot/h, 2knot/h.

[2] https://books.google.com.au/books?id=MgJVCAAAQBAJ&pg=PT301&lpg=PT301&dq=hotel+load+submarine&source=bl&ots=SZhOvZ953t&sig=08sZCelPPiX-yadW1nkys-JAwWY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAmoVChMIrMWn-IjRyAIVhZeUCh07xgOo#v=onepage&q=hotel%20load%20submarine&f=false

[3] I did not consider effect of cavitation.


jbmoore said...

LiBs are a fire hazard. Subs are enclosed spaces and fires are very deadly. The batteries can be made relatively fire safe, but is it safe enough for a sub? However, they have made advances in battery technology so the latest generation may charge easier and discharge better thereby making the threat of fire moot. If they can get the energy density of the aluminium battery on par with the Li battery, it would be a better alternative power storage device.


Peter Coates said...

Hi S and jbmoore

Here's hoping that gradual progress and extensive testing of Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) on submarine will identify any remaining dangers.

More specifically hopefully before LIBs are introduced on future Australian Soryus LIBs are tested on the one or two Japanese testbed submarines and on the next batch of Japanese Soryus.