ABC in $689k contract for bipolar prototypes for US military

Bipolar lead acid battery firm Advanced Battery Concepts will design prototype batteries for the US Defense Logistics Agency in a move that could lead to its batteries being acquired by the air force and navy, the DLA announced on March 15.

The commitment by the US military — never known for being concerned about price when quality is at stake — underpins the endorsement that ABC will receive if the firm’s batteries are accepted.

The GreenSeal AGM batteries will replace the US army’s 4HN and 2HN flooded lead acid batteries and eliminate the need to open cells and refill them with acid.

The codes 4HN and 2HN relate to military specifications for waterproof lead acid batteries with specific sizes and performance requirements in 12-volt and 24-volt.

“The bipolar design uses electrodes with positive material on one side and negative on the other in a simple stacked, thin planer geometry,” said Reed Shick, director of intellectual property at ABC.

“The thin electrodes have a short acid diffusion distance for high power and the uniform current through the battery yields high energy compared to spiral wound or prismatic batteries. The use of ViaLock internal structural support in an over-moulded case makes the batteries very robust and vibration resistant.

“The expected performance improvements include 50% improved capacity and energy at the C20 rate, 35% improved CCA, 100% improved cycle life (100% DOD C/2 to 50% capacity) and 300% improved vibration resistance.”

Ten drop-in handmade ABC prototypes will be prepared in four months for testing at the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center as part of a phased contract that ABC has proposed, said the DLA’s media relations chief Michelle McCaskill.

A manufacturing line will then be set up to produce another 10 for testing and evaluation over 12 months.

“Once the 12-month research and development contract is complete and the replacement batteries are approved by TARDEC, the US Army Tank-automotive & Armaments Command will ‘provision’ two new National stock Numbers for DLA to procure. The air force and navy will also review TARDEC’s assessment and likely accept the new batteries for their systems,” she said.

ABC’s CEO Ed Shaffer told BESB he believed the company’s new Bipolar+ technology, which allows the GreenSeal design to be adapted for different fitment, voltage and capacity requirements, was the key factor behind the US Army’s decision to trial the batteries.

“Passing the military specification testing will continue to reinforce the readiness of GreenSeal technology for a broad array of military uses,” he said. “Even better, it will show the suitability of the technology for a multitude of applications outside of the military, including SLI.

“ABC has currently licensed our technology to four major battery producers with more in process. At the end of the project, ABC and our licensees will have a clear path to sell GreenSeal batteries to the US military and we look forward to broad commercialization of the technology by our licensees into these and other markets.”

Two of ABC’s four licensees produce AGM batteries for the DLA, Shick said. “We plan to share our learnings with our licensees to allow them the option of producing options to the military for a wider range of battery formats,” he said.