Japan put into service first submarine with lithium-ion batteries

KOBE, (BM) – The Japanese Self-Defense Forces this month at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in Kobe held a ceremony to commission our Ouryu diesel-electric shock submarine (tail number SS 511), which was put into service by the 1st submarine fleet in the port of Kure, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

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Ouryu is the 11th in a series of Soryu-class submarines that have been put into service, but the first of them to use lithium-ion batteries, which eliminates the need for traditional lead-acid batteries as well as Stirling’s non-volatile engines. Compared to lithium-ion, lead-acid batteries require more maintenance and longer charge times.

The Stirling power plant of Soryu-class submarines, used to charge traditional lead-acid batteries, allows you to be under water for more than 20 days. It works by burning diesel fuel, and since the pressure in the combustion chamber is higher than the pressure outside the submarine, the combustion products are thrown into the water. Due to its high capacity, lithium-ion batteries provide extended underwater travel.

The development of lithium-ion batteries for Japanese submarines began in 2002, and testing has been conducted since 2006. On November 16, 2015, the world’s first non-nuclear submarine equipped with the latest batteries was laid down at the Kobe Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard, and on October 4, 2018, Ouryu was launched.

Both Ouryu and the 12th last Soryu-class boat, named Toryu (tail number SS 512), which Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces intend to take in March 2021, will use GS Yuasa lithium-ion batteries.

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They are lithium-nickel cobalt-aluminum oxides or NCA batteries, have a shorter charging time and longer service life, but also significantly higher cost due to the use of batteries using new technologies and the corresponding electrical system.

To recharge the NCA requires powerful diesel generators, increased volumes of air supply and exhaust gas, the use of automatic fuses in electrical circuits. The weight of such batteries compared to lead-acid batteries is much less, which led to some changes in design. The contracted cost of Ouryu submarine is $ 608 million, while the previous 10th Soryu-type ship cost $ 488 million.

Soryu class submarines have a speed of 13 knots on the surface and 20 knots under water. The crew – 65 people, weapons – 6 torpedo tubes and up to 30 units of 21-inch heavy torpedoes, anti-ship missiles or mines. Length – 84 m, width – 9.1 m, height – 10.5 m, draft – 8.4 m, surface / underwater displacement – 2974/4100 t.

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Japan currently has a developed submarine fleet, represented by a balanced naval composition, including the most modern low-speed diesel-stirling-electric and the latest diesel-electric modifications of submarines. According to experts, the Naval Self-Defense Forces of Japan are among the strongest, able to withstand even China.


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