February 14, 2017

Possible Arrangement of Lithium-ion Batteries in Japanese Submarines

Diagram of possible shape of a Lithium-ion Battery (LIB) for a Japanese submarine. Note its 8 cells are in blue. This is from a January 2017 article on wispywood2344’s blog, http://blog.livedoor.jp/wispywood2344/archives/2017-01.html .

Submarine Matters makes a feature of charting the development of Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs), and other technologies, in Japanese submarines. The Japanese Navy (JMSDF) is very likely to be the first navy that will openly and operationally use LIBs. This will first be in Japan's first Soryu Mark 2 submarine (known as 27SS, Build no. 8126, Pennant no. SS-511) see SORYU TABLE. 27SS might be commissioned in 2019-2020 or later.

If Japan successfully uses LIBs for years, with few problems, Japan’s Western submarine competitors (Germany’s TKMS, Sweden’s SAAB-Kockums and France’s DCNS) may also develop LIBs for use from the late 2020s.

As Australia’s future DCNS Shortfins will have an almost completely new electrical system (along with most of its other internal fittings) the Shortfin might be one of the first diesel-electric (conventional) submarines to be built around LIBs. Australia therefore could rely on LIBs to provide extended, fully submerged, range. In support of this contention is the fact Australia never publicly expressed interest in AIP for its future submarines under the SEA 1000 selection process.

Japanese testing of LIBs technology may have occurred on one, two or all three Harushio class submarines that were converted to trainings submarines and then perhaps propulsion testbeds. Those three submarines were renumbered TSS-3606, TSS-3607 and TSS-3601 (see Harushio “Vessels” Table). It is even more likely that Oyashio class TSS-3608 was partly converted to a LIBs testbed.

Comments made anonymously, 21-28 January 2017 indicate that LIB arrangements are very difficult to know with any certainty:

From the published information available it is difficult to work out how old Lead-acid Batteries (LABs) were moved around in a submarine. LIB moving arrangements are even more difficult to guess.

Suggested Model

The arrangement of LIBs in a future Japanese submarine is aimed at promoting safety and efficiency. The heavy LIBs module (weighing 770kg) shown in the diagram above must be securely anchored on a pedestal. This anchoring may take place as follows.
-  First, a battery module consisted of 8 single cells (see diagram), where the bottom two positions
    are empty, is placed on the pedestal.
-  Next, the battery module is anchored to the pedestal by bolts using the bottom empty positions.
   After anchoring a battery module, 2 single cells are fixed in the bottom two positions. That is why
   the bottom two cells seem to be convertible spaces.
-  Further provision for anchoring may be:
   =  more spacing outside the modules, including an accessible central aisle on the keel
   =  the LIBs' front facing the aisle, and
   =  a 6 by 6 row of LIBs arranged in clusters on each side of the aisle.

Perceptions Supporting Model 

In support of the above anchoring model is Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) For LIBs Installation In Surface Ships. One of the requirements for installation is ”battery systems shall be anchored to robust structural elements of the ship by bolts and nuts.”

Also significant are pictures of prototype LIBs of the Japanese Navy (JMSDF) which clearly need a firm installation process. But any positions/holes for bolting outside of the battery module are not apparent. This strongly suggests bolting is conducted inside and at the base of the battery module. Adequate space for bolting is needed - then two single cells can be placed at the bottom of the module.

Batteries on pedestals have the downsides of a higher center of gravity (maybe increasing vibration and top-heaviness) and may expand any stray magnetic field. But mounting LIBs on pedestals has the benefits of providing better access for installation, maintenance and removal.

One should qualify the above comments on LIB arrangements. The comments are reliant on published sources and Japan’s first fully LIB submarine (27SS, see SORYU TABLE) hasn’t even been completed yet.

What Is Known About Old LAB Arrangements Offers Little Help

Looking at a reference of LAB arrangements on old Oberon submarines suggests ambiguity about how batteries are placed or removed. This may or may not take place using both vertical and horizontal hydraulic jacks [1]. Then, there is no the pedestal for LABs. Also battery modules for LABs are arranged in a fully closed packing manner. Whether LIBs use the same arrangement is an unknown.

[1] old Canadian C.F.’O’ CLASS SUBMARINES (TRAINING NOTEBOOK ELECTRICAL) provides detailed information on LABs in Oberon class (aka "O boats") subs, used by Canada, Australia and, of course the UK (designer and builder) etc, see: http://jproc.ca/rrp/rrp2/oberon_battery_and_electrical.pdf [about 5 MB] In particular see Page 11.26. Where it states: “C. Cell Lifiting Gear: Sick [that’s what it says!] cells are removed from batteries by cell lifting gear . Each submarine carries its own lifting gear.” also see:
-  Page 11.2 (Fig.11.01 Battery compartment – typical arrangement) and
-  Page 11.16 (Fig.11.06 Arrangement of cell group water cooling connections)

What We Can Conclude About Japan’s New Submarine LIB Arrangements From 2020 Onwards

First, it has taken a long time to develop LIBs and great deal of effort toward establishment of their safety and reliability. A modern quality control system, utilising a theoretical approach, assisted by computer simulations, provides guidance on any potential for battery failure and helps predict average battery life. But, these theoretical results still need validation through practical use and experimentation, which takes time.

Second, converting a battery system, from traditional LABs (used for up to 120 years by submarine countries) to LIBs, is a difficult process. This replacement process includes:
-  elimination of LABs’ safety ventilation system and water cooling system,
-  total conversion of electrical system (including totally new wiring, switches and
   battery/electrical control computers, etc)
-  installation of the LIBs' safety gas cylinder and piping for fire extinguishing system, and
-  as a submarine's batteries in total weigh hundreds of tons re-balancing the whole submarine is
   necessary, partly achieved by rearranging some fuel and buoyancy tanks. 

So, it is preferable to build a new submarine design (like the DCNS (future) Shortfin) around LIBs rather than retrofitting LIBs in a LABs submarine.

By Anonymous sources and Pete


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Reliability proven by actual production, highest level of development and production capacities based on quality management system, and deep experience related to batteries for submarine are needed for suppyers for LIBs. In the case of start from scratch, it may take ten years to develop and another ten years to prove reliability and safety through acual use.

As performance of LIBs-submarine is much better than that of LABs-submarine, selection of French LABs-submarine with unproven platform is difficult to understand. Judging from various technical reports by RAN, RAN has deep insight into R&D and future technology on submarine. One of the most acceptable explanations of submarine selection is that convensional submarine is Plan B. Plan A is SSN. Convensional submarine is temporary choice for future SSN.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous

Japan indeed appears more advanced in mass storage LIBs (including those for submarine) than other countries.

I worry that China's current LIBs capabilities are unknown and may be more advanced than we open source scholars can estimate. China casts a wide net over overt, classified and reverse-engineering. China has shown a talent at building whole weapon systems (eg. jetfighters, nuclear submarines, missiles and H-weapons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction#Nuclear_weapons

China has increasing financial resources to buy dual-use battery technology and hire Western or Russian contractors to develop the technology for military uses.

On Australia's/RAN's choice of submarine. The ability of France to sell something better than LIBs, that is nuclear propulsion for submarines, indeed seemed a winning offer.

However Australia may not be able to deliver the extraordinarily excessive $50 Billions it promised. Also the power vacuum caused by Trump's America First isolationism may change the Asia-Pacific alliance picture significantly. So Australia could still decide to buy from a Pacific ally (Japan) during our 12 year submarine buying period still to go.



MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

here is an article about an all-electric battery-powered ferry.
The electrical system is provided by Siemens. Siemens also provides the fuel cells for the German submarines.

It is mentioned that the battery capacity on the ship is equivalent to 1,600 car batteries. With estimated 50 Ah for a car battery the ship has a capacity of about 80 kAh at 12 V or roughly 1 MWh. That's far less than 31 MWh. A picture in the article shows "Corvus" is written on the batteries.
1365 kWh installed inside a 40' container with a waste of volume left.

Something operational OTS from Japan, France or China?


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Cancellation of the contract is difficult. As Australia presented massive budget of 50B$ at beginning, everyone thought Australia was cashcow. She should have presented 20B$, that’s enough.

President Trump is badly criticized by liberal, but, he behaves within the framework of his election promise. If he breaks his eletion promise, he can not win next election. On the other hand, he shows a compromise inconspicuously and knows how to popularity through twitter, in other words he is a talented politician. President Trump is more realistic than expected and does not provide power vacuum in the pacific, I hope. Anyway, Japan and Australia should more cooperate together.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

(See, “Diagram of possible shape of a Lithium-ion Battery (LIB) for a Japanese submarine”)
(1) LIB (module) consists of 10 battery packs as shown in the diagram.
(2) In LIB module, each battery pack consists of x unit batteries connected in parallel not in series.
(3) Submarine has two iditical battery-sections.
(4) In each battery-section, y-raw by z-column of yz-LIB modules are closely arranged.
(5) In each battery-section, each raw is connected in series and each column is connected in parallel.

Direct current from LIBs is converted into alternative current with the present voltage for propulsion motors.


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

I'm assuming there are few electric ferries/ships making the Ampere a rare solution?
So much may depend on the power station source eg. coal, gas or hydro (making Ampere efficient).

Until diesel fuel (and coal) become too expensive I'd say alternative fuels will remain rare. More nuclear?

Here's broader site on electric boats https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_boat#Types



Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at 16/2/17 11:55 PM]

Yes if Australia attempted to renege on its submarine project there would be financial penalty clauses with the agreements Australia has already signed with DCNS. Also:
- Australia's international business reputation would suffer, and
- our credit rating may be reduced.

Better that Australia presented no submarine budget like in normal commercial selection processes. It should have been up to the sellers to compete on lowest price.

However the main consideration was domestic political, that is maximising Federal money (via DCNS business) to South Australia, just before the July 2016 Federal Election.

Yes, as the US may rapidly decline in reputation (in soft power and maybe hard power) under Trump Japan and Australia will need to move steadily closer.

Trump is feeling especially vulnerable on his personal closeness to Russia. I expect he seeks long term personal realestate deals with Russia. Putin, after all, heavily finances realestate. Putin paid $10s Billions on property development for the Sochi Winter Olympics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Winter_Olympics#Financing

The Trump family's realestate deals with Russia may clash with US/Western including Japanese interests.



MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,
the point about fuel cell vs. batteries in car industry interesting.
Mercedes has several fuel cell powered public transportation buses driving around in Stuttgart and the NECAR 5 project. The problem about fuel cells is how to make the Hydrogen or Methanol.

The advantage of battery powered cars is they can store power of solar cells and wind turbines in case peak power. In Germany we had a few days where these sources provided more than enough energy and energy was exported even to other states. E.g. France has problems in summer to cool its nuclear power station due not enough water in the rivers.

The future will also contain Methanol produced somewhere in the desert and than shipped to Europe.

The electric boats are also interesting. Just look up how many of them are labeled Made in Germany. The point about the ferry was Siemens already has practical knowledge about LIB use on commercial projects. I am not aware of any French or Japanese implementation. So the Short Fin will be either a testbed or they will use subsystems by Siemens.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete (18/2/17 12:50 AM)

Before correction
(2) In LIB module, each battery pack consists of x unit batteries connected in parallel not in series.
After correction
(2)In LIB module, each battery pack consists of x unit batteries connected in series.

I assumed parallel connection model of battery pack based on various information includintg battery stability. But, alternation of circuit breakers suggests exsitance of another model, i.e., series connection model.