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Author Topic:   Lithium Ion Batteries for Marine Use
Fishmore posted 04-26-2011 05:12 PM ET (US)   Profile for Fishmore   Send Email to Fishmore  
I was going through my fishing magazine today and came across this new battery for boats from a company called Lithionics.

The batteries come in Group 31 and Group 49 sizes. It is made of Lithium Ion rather than wet cell or AGM. They are quite pricey but the performance and weight is incredible. The Group 31 batteries which normally weigh close to 60lbs in a conventional battery, weigh in at 12 lbs each. They claim to last up to 8 - 10 years and have a recharge cycle of 3000 charges. They also claim to recharge in one-third the time of conventional batteries.

There is really no need to move your batteries to the console with these batteries except if you want more deck space.

The website for the manufacturer is

This type of battery brings us one-step closer to increased use of electrical power for boat motors.

Jerry Townsend posted 04-26-2011 10:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
A bit pricey - you bet! -- "... under $1000 ...". But the value, the pros - are very real as well. --- Jerry/Idaho
Fishmore posted 04-27-2011 08:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Fishmore  Send Email to Fishmore     
I found one web site with prices

$800 - $1457 per battery depending on the size.

This is a very good article about using these types of batteries in an RV.

Regards, Tim

PeteB88 posted 04-27-2011 08:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Battery engineer buddy says lithium ion are incredibly expensive, require sophisticated electronics to monitor every cell (ie Chevy Volt), have weird charge/discharge cycles, total PIA most of the time and unlikely to ever be "perfected". Trend is really back to lead acid. If you got the money honey go for it and keep us posted.
djahncke posted 04-28-2011 12:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for djahncke  Send Email to djahncke     

Nigel Calder wrote this very interesting and informative article about Lithium Ion and TPPL (Thin Plate Pure Lead) battery technologies and their use in cruising boats.

It points out the real advantage to these technologies is their high CAR (Charge Acceptance Rate) throughout the charge cycle which allows you to recharge the batteries to close 100% in a fraction of the time that it takes conventional lead acid batteries.

It would be fun to try these technologies. But alas my cruising style would not significantly benefit from them and my wallet would not support it.

davej14 posted 04-28-2011 07:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I certainly would not want to be an early adopter of LiIon battery technology on my boat. Lithium and water definitely do not mix well. You need to have precise charge control to prevent overheating and most LiIon batteries are not intrinsically safe. An internal or external short could produce an explosion, think about the shock and vibration stress on a small boat. In my opinion the trade offs would not be worth the risk at ANY price.
Chuck Tribolet posted 04-28-2011 09:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Let's say they last 8 years and cost $800 dollars. And
lead/acid battery lasts four years and costs $100.



Fishmore posted 04-29-2011 12:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for Fishmore  Send Email to Fishmore     
I am going to keep an eye on this for awhile. They seem to be picking up supporters from the racing crowd and the Bass Boat crowd due to the lighter weights and the fact that they provide full power until discharged rather than tapering off as conventional batteries do. One article I read on a bass boat is that after switching to these batteries he picked up 2 inches on the water line which allows him to get in to shallower water. The recharge time was boasted at 1.5 hours to full charge. These bass boat guys carry 5 or more batteries so the weight savings is huge for them. The racing guys don't seem to be concerned about accidental explosions and my understanding is that these batteries are rated to be shipped on a plane anywhere. I read a lengthy article on the rigorous testing they had to go through to qualify for delivery via a plane ride. These types of batteries are also growing in popularity for military, electric vehicle, and aerospace applications.

We should get more information and lower prices over the next few years. They are currently advertising a 5 year warranty. Some of the articles I read expect these batteries to last up to 15 years with regular maintenance.

Sounds like a good idea to me if they can get the prices down.

weekendwarrior posted 04-29-2011 07:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
My remote control helicopter and air plane both use lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries. Relatve other technologies, the energy per pound, power delivery and recharge rate are fantastic. Unfortunately it is not all that uncommon for them to catch fire, especially if they get poked and air can get into a cell. The moisture in the air is a problrm for the lithium. Check youtube and you'll see videos. It is fantastic technology, but in my personal opinion a pleasure boat isn't the best application for it.
PeteB88 posted 04-29-2011 07:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Plus it's my understanding that once these batteries are done they are not easy to recycle and are not green friendly. Not sure about all that but I do know that the battery engineer told me the huge problem of what to do with exhausted automobile battery packs is going to get messy. Not green.
Owtrayj25 posted 04-29-2011 08:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for Owtrayj25  Send Email to Owtrayj25     
I am amazed at how much lighter and powerful cordless power tools are becoming, mainly due to the use of lithium ion batteries. This technology would certainly catch on, if it is indeed transferable to the wet cell battery market. As for cost, that too will be appropriately adjusted...remember the enormous size and price tag of the first production microwave ovens?
davej14 posted 05-02-2011 12:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Like I said, Lithium is not a material that I would want on my boat at any price. Water and Lithium don't mix, add some excessive heat or an internal short and you have a reaction that you will not be able to extinguish:

pcrussell50 posted 05-03-2011 03:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for pcrussell50  Send Email to pcrussell50     
Davej14 is pretty much right on. The FAA is doing a LOT of hand wringing lately about Li ion batteries and their tendency to explode and burn VERY hot and quickly. They haven't yet lowered the boom, but it might well be in the cards. To the extent that boats are like airplanes, you might want to think it through.


Jerry Townsend posted 05-03-2011 03:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
With all due respect, it is time to take a breath.

To start, a lithium battery is a high energy density material. That feature provides the performance we all enjoy, but it can be a hazardous material or item. And virtually all hazardous materials are subjected to testing and special handling in the event of an accident or damage.

Some problems with lithium batteries stem from damage (crushing) or short circuiting the cell (releasing a lot of energy in a very short period of time which makes it HOT by definition), and there are probably many, many others. And lithium batteries have exploded, but these are often caused by a short. The seal to the stainless case can be damaged and leak.

Should a lithium cell be damaged, it will discharge hydro chlorine, perhaps sodium hydroxide and other things--but all bad.

And having a damaged or shorted lithium fire on a plane would be super bad. This could happen by crushing or damaging a box or pallet of lithium batteries, or something shipped with lithium batteries.

Don't worry about water and lithium batteries; the lithium in the lithium cells is not liquid sodium or potassium, both of which react violently with water. In fact, use water in the event of a lithium battery fire cools it down and puts the fire out.

And davej14--the tests you reference subject the cells to a "...small alcohol fire....". Yes, a small alcohol fire will increase the pressure in a sealed cell which will increase the internal pressure and can fail a seal, and cheats a bit in trying to start a fire.

And with that, don't be afraid of lithium cells, but be careful when using them; don't damage them and above all, don't ever short a fully charged lithium battery. ----- Jerry/Idaho

Chuck Tribolet posted 05-09-2011 09:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The problems the FAA was looking at were problems with BIG
LiIon batteries being shipped. Mostly stuff for the hybrid
car industry.

Me: There are enough unknowns with LiIon as a boat battery
that I'll let somebody else be the rich Guinea Pig (as I said
earlier, DO THE MATH).


weekendwarrior posted 05-13-2011 01:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
At least in th RC toy market, LiPo batteries are unstable enough that several companies are successfully selling fire resistant bags for storing and charging LiPo batteries: sack&x=8&y=9

Hopefully the batteries used for more serious applications will be more reliable.

Jerry Townsend posted 05-13-2011 06:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Those toy batteries are lithium-polymer - while the batteries we have been talking about are lithium-ion. Apparently they are quite different - as your link lists a lithium-polymer for a toy at around $20. And a fire resistant bag costs more than the battery. --- Jerry/Idaho
pcrussell50 posted 05-14-2011 05:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for pcrussell50  Send Email to pcrussell50     
The problems the FAA was looking at were problems with BIG
LiIon batteries being shipped. Mostly stuff for the hybrid
car industry.

Chuck, they are certainly looking at that, but as with all things government, the decision and it's enforcement will be through a bureaucracy. As with all things bureaucratic, it will cut with a broad, dull blade. *We use Fujitsu tablet PC's, with Li ion batteries, for all of our takeoff/landing/cruise performance calculations. Have been for years. And now the program is in danger of being terminated by the FAA. I _think_ the sticking point is in the fact that we charge on board the jet, with a charging cradle in the cockpit. Charging lithium batteries safely requires a logic board. If it should fail, there could be problems. Or at least that's the the regulators think. In 15 years we have never had a problem. But I think the FAA would be less nervous if no charging took place onboard and in flight. This may result in the use of some kind of device like an ipad or an Android-based tablet where it can operate all day on a charge, and they would be charged overnight, off the jet.

In any event, I don't think I would use lithium batteries in _my_ boat... first because of (obscenely high) cost, and second because of safety while charging.

*The usual disclaimer applies that this is my opinion, and not that of my employer.


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