GA-EMS to develop Lithium-ion batteries for Snakehead LDUUV

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems says it has received a contract from Advanced Technology International (ATI) to develop and demonstrate a prototype Lithium-ion Fault Tolerant (LiFT) battery system for the US Navy’s prototype “Snakehead” Large-Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV).

Illustration: US Navy sailors prepare Large Training Vehicle 38 (LTV 38), an unmanned undersea vehicle, to be unloaded at Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Keyport. Photo: US Navy

The LiFT battery system will power the LDUUV’s propulsion and support systems.

The Snakehead LDUUV is intended to increase endurance, range, and payload hosting capabilities to support a variety of future mission and operations requirements.

It will be modular in design and include hotel functionality (guidance and control, navigation, autonomy, situational awareness, core communications, and power distribution), energy and power, propulsion and maneuvering, mission sensors, and communications.

A prototype vessel is expected to be launched in 2019.

“LiFT batteries are designed with passive safety features not found in other solutions,” stated Rolf Ziesing, vice president of Programs at GA-EMS. “Some lithium-ion battery systems rely on an active forced water cooling system to cool batteries and mitigate thermal events. Active systems add more equipment, weight, and certification requirements to qualify a platform for use in a maritime environment. LiFT battery systems eliminate those complexities, simplifying installation, operation, and maintenance without compromising safety and reliability.”

The LiFT battery system’s modular design and single cell fault tolerance is designed to prevent uncontrolled and catastrophic cascading lithium-ion cell failure, improving the safety of personnel and platforms while keeping power available for high mission assurance.

The system can be configured to meet the needs of manned and unmanned underwater vehicles. LiFT has undergone at-sea testing, including use in other undersea vehicles that have been classified by Det Norske Veritas Germanischer Lloyd, an international accredited registrar and classification society for the maritime industry, further demonstrating the safe operation of the LiFT battery system architecture.