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General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced on 4 February that it has been awarded 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). The LiFT battery system will power the LDUUV’s propulsion and support systems. SNAKEHEAD is intended to increase endurance, range and payload hosting capabilities to support a variety of future mission and operations requirements.

Our LiFT battery systems are designed to withstand the rugged marine environment and provide safe, reliable power that is critical to keeping propulsion and support systems operating throughout a mission cycle,” explained GA-EMS President, Scott Forney. “We look forward to expanding our efforts to develop and demonstrate prototype LiFT battery systems to support the LDUUV, as we continue to provide LiFT systems for various other critical manned and unmanned underwater platforms used by the Department of Defense.”

LiFT batteries are designed with passive safety features not found in other solutions,” added VP of Programs, Rolf Ziesing. “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 flexible architecture of the high energy density LiFT battery system can be configured to meet the most demanding needs of manned and unmanned underwater vehicles. LiFT battery systems have undergone rigorous at-sea testing, including use in other undersea vehicles that have been classified by DNV GL, an internationally accredited registrar and classification society for the maritime industry, further demonstrating the safe operation of the LiFT battery system architecture.

An early prototype LDUUV on display in 2015. (Photo: US Office of Naval Research)

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