7 June 2018: Exide Technologies has signed a new $75m contract to supply the US Navy with lead battery systems for its fleet of submarines, the battery manufacturer and recycler confirmed on June 7.
The five-year contract continues an agreement made in 2005, which supports the navy’s transition from classic wet lead-acid technology to sealed valve-regulated AGM technology, the firm told BESB.
The latest submarine valve regulated lead acid batteries are specifically designed for submarines because they fit the basic footprint of the battery wells and battery systems, which have not changed since submarine designs were forged in the 1970s.
The new SVRLA batteries eliminate the need for periodic cell watering and air agitation, which is required for wet cells, the company said.
“Since the battery wells are sealed there is basically no gassing, making the batteries almost maintenance free,” the company said. “By design, Exide’s Absolyte VRLA AGM technology is a good fit for submarine applications and are cost effective with proven performance.”
Submarines are one area where the weight of the battery is an important factor.
“The battery wells are strategically designed and located within the boat and the battery weight provides the necessary ballast, by design, to maintain the boat’s level of operations,” said the company.
“A lighter battery would require a lot of extra ballast to maintain the boat’s necessary balance.
“The energy storage requirements of submarines are large and lead acid batteries are tried and true and come with low risk and proven performance over decades. Any change in storage technology from lead acid would raise significant risks, particularly as a submarine application is a sealed vessel, and probably would not be cost effective.
“The batteries are generally installed fully charged at 100% available capacity, and are kept fully charged with float charging during standby operations and is recharged after a duty cycle.”
Exide designed and built the main storage lead acid battery for the US Navy submarine USS Holland in 1898, which served as a training boat at the US Naval Academy from 1900 to 1905.
Exide also designed and built the main storage lead battery for the navy’s first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus in 1954.