Project 10831 / 01210 Losharik - Lithium Batteries
Representatives of the Russian defense industry have never publicly associated lithium-ion batteries and submarines. In October 2018, Japan announced the launch of the world's first non-nuclear submarine, the Oryu, equipped with lithium-ion batteries. At a scientific conference in Singapore, retired Vice Admiral Masao Kobayashi said at the time that these batteries have a longer service life than lead acid batteries and provide a long submerged run at high speeds. Six months later, the South Korean company Daewoo announced a similar development. It was clarified that the assembly of the boats will begin in the second half of 2019.
The Novosibirsk company Liotech calls itself the only Russian manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries. The creators of the SPARK system are Rusnano and the Federal Property Management Agency. The name is obliged to the abbreviation of the term "Lithium-ion technologies", according to the official website of the company. The scale of solidity is supported by releases about trolleybuses with Liotech batteries, which “have been carrying passengers along the streets of St. Petersburg, Tula, Barnaul, Novosibirsk, throughout the Republic of Crimea and Argentina since 2014”. In February 2019, the commercial service of Rusnano published a message in business publications that its daughter received a certificate from the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping.
An experimental battery caught fire on a submarine in the Arctic. A lithium battery was installed on a top-secret submarine that caught fire in the Barents Sea. A new technology for the submarine fleet was introduced during the last repair. On 04 July 2019, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu publicly reported to President Putin about the fire in the deep-sea research vehicle. "The main cause of the incident was established - it was a fire in the battery compartment, and then it became somewhat widespread." The general's words are quoted in the transcript on the Kremlin's website. "The nuclear power plant on this device is completely isolated and deserted." The fact that it was the lithium battery that exploded off the coast of Severomorsk was confirmed to Fontanka by five structurally unrelated sources. According to Fontanka's data, the volumetric fire was caused by the thermal runaway of the battery, which was followed by a series of explosions. The personnel of the bow compartments were killed. The shockwave was so strong that it was felt on the carrier boat. The device at the time of the explosion was in the process of docking with it. The survivors battened down the central compartment, completed docking, drowned out the nuclear reactor and evacuated to BS-136 Orenburg. Fearing further explosions and the spread of fire to the carrier, the crew of the mother boat flooded the device, for this very reason, upon arrival at the base in Severomorsk, the submarine was completely filled with water.
As a source in the main command of the Navy explained to Fontanka, in addition to a nuclear reactor, electric propulsion units are installed on the deep-sea vehicle. They are used for precise maneuvering and dynamic positioning underwater. This accuracy is important when docking with a carrier boat. These very propellers are powered not from the reactor, but from the storage battery. It is well known that lead-acid batteries are used in the submarine fleet. According to our publication, the lithium battery was installed relatively recently. In any case, exactly after the repairs mentioned in open sources in 2012.
According to Fontanka's interlocutors, the situation got out of control when the device was “attached” to the carrier boat. A short circuit at the moment of docking led to an instantaneous discharge of the battery and its thermal runaway. Electrochemical processes provoked an explosion (according to another source, there were several) and spontaneous combustion.
Modern batteries consist of three parts - a cathode, a positive pole and an energy source, an anode, a negative pole and a "sink" of this energy, and an electrolyte, which allows ions to travel between the cathode and anode. The capacity and power of batteries depend on the composition of the cathode, and their durability depends on how much the electrolyte and cathode material is destroyed during charge and discharge cycles.
LIOTECH is the largest manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries in Russia, the only domestic large-scale enterprise capable of producing a product at competitive prices and quality at the level of the world's leading manufacturers. The Liotech plant, built in the Novosibirsk region, fully complies with all technological and environmental safety standards. The launch of production was carried out in December 2011. The design capacity of the plant - 1 GWh / year corresponds to the level of "gigafactories" of the world leaders and makes it possible to equip about 5000 electric buses with lithium-ion batteries a year.
The manufacture of lithium batteries is carried out both in small laboratories and, in mass production, in large dry rooms. Due to the tendency of lithium metal to react with water vapor to generate heat and form lithium hydroxide and hydrogen, the manufacturing process requires maintaining a relative humidity of less than 1%. The materials used for the manufacture of lithium-ion cells, from which the cathode, anode and electrolyte are formed, do not react explosively with water, but are so sensitive to moisture that even lower humidity is usually maintained in dry rooms of such production. than when working with lithium metal. Water vapor serves as a catalyst for reactions, therefore, in order to achieve a high yield of suitable products and ensure high quality products, it is necessary to supply air with an ultra-low dew point temperature to dry rooms.
The Ekovolt electric catamaran, using lithium-ion batteries, was launched in St. Petersburg on 29 June 2020. The vessel, designed to transport tourists on the Hermitage-Peterhof route, is capable of operating on a single charge for up to 10 hours. It is planned that the serial production of these vessels will use the batteries of the RUSNANO portfolio company Liotech. The catamaran was built by NPK Morsvyazavtomatika with the participation of the National Reserve Corporation, acting as an investor in the project. The ship can accommodate up to 60 passengers, cruising speed reaches seven knots. It is planned that the serial production of environmentally friendly vessels will be established in the Leningrad region. Liotech is the only domestic company that has a certificate from the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping. This allows the company's products to be used on ships of various classes - as uninterruptible power supplies or traction batteries. Liotech already had experience in using its products in shipbuilding.
While lithium batteries are normally safe, they may cause injury if they have design defects, are made of low quality materials, are assembled incorrectly, are used or recharged improperly, or are damaged. In February 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Status Report on High Energy Density Batteries Project reported over 25,000 overheating or fire incidents involving more than 400 types of lithium battery- powered consumer products that occurred over a five-year period.
When lithium batteries fail to operate safely or are damaged, they may present a fire and/or explosion hazard. Damage to all types of lithium batteries can occur when temperatures are too high (e.g., above 130°F). External heat sources (e.g., open flames, heaters, etc.) can also accelerate failure in cells with defects or damage from other causes. Damage to lithium-ion batteries can occur when the batteries themselves or the environment around the batteries is below freezing (32°F) during charging. Charging in temperatures below freezing can lead to permanent metallic lithium buildup (i.e., plating) on the anode, increasing the risk for failure. Charging a device or battery without following manufacturer’s instructions may cause damage to rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. For example, some manufacturer-authorized chargers will cycle the power to the battery on and off before it is fully charged to avoid overcharging. Since ultra-fast chargers may not cycle power, do not use them unless the manufacturer’s instructions include them as an option. Normal service charge/discharge cycles may cause damage to grow in a controlled fashion, until it becomes self-propagating and exceeds the capabilities of the battery management system.
Heat released during cell failure can damage nearby cells, releasing more heat in a chain reaction known as a thermal runaway. The high energy density in lithium batteries makes them more susceptible to these reactions. Depending on the battery chemistry, size, design, component types, and amount of energy stored in the lithium cell, lithium cell failures can result in chemical and/or combustion reactions, which can also result in heat releases and/or over-pressurization. In combustion reactions, a thermal runaway releases byproducts that may ignite to cause smoke, heat, fire, and/or explosion. The by-products from a lithium battery combustion reaction are usually carbon dioxide and water vapor. In some lithium batteries, combustion can separate fluorine from lithium salts in the battery. If mixed with water vapors, fluorine may produce hydrofluoric acid, which is particularly hazardous because workers may not feel its effects until hours after skin exposure.
Exothermic reactions and/or internal electrical shorts may be triggered by manufacturing defects, or mechanical, electrical, or thermal errors, misuse or abuse. If allowed to continue, these reactions or shorts can create conditions for self-heating within the cell; which grow to become uncontrolled increases in temperature and pressure (thermal runaway); and potentially end in venting or catastrophic failure of the cell.
As battery technology matures, the safety risks may increase as manufacturers attempt to obtain greater performance from existing chemistries and adopt new chemistries with less field experience. Increasing the bounds of performance implies operating the battery cells closer to limits where damage initiation and growth, leading to failure, can occur. While all manufacturers intend to deliver safe products, some may be more thorough than others, due to experience and/or resource availability.
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