Boating NZ : FREE TO READ March 2014
P rice has been the major hurdle to a faster uptake of lithium-iron batteries for boats. Happily, costs are falling, but another possibility – boat propulsion – c o uld spur a rapid migration to the technology. To understand why lithium-iron batteries could make such a significant impact on boat propulsion, it’s worth briefly revisiting their advantages over conventional batteries (wet, AGM and GEL): characteristics which are particularly attractive to boat owners. First though, a point of clarification: while the term “lithium” is used fairly loosely in discussions about modern battery technology, those geared to the marine industry are lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePO4) or lithium-yttrium-iron-phosphate (LiFeYPO4) models. Not to be confused with lithium-ion batteries (lithium-cobalt-dioxide – LiCoO2), their pioneering ancestors. The appeal of lithium-iron batteries begins with simple benefits such as weight and space. Amp-hour for amp-hour, they typically weigh around 66% less than conventional batteries – a big factor for performance-orientated sailors – and, displacing only 25% of the volume, they’re great space-savers. But efficiency and performance are the real advantages: they’re recharged rapidly, deliver a far greater range of usable power and outlive conventional batteries by a factor of four. Lead-acid batteries are typically rated for about 400 - 500 charge/ discharge cycles, compared with 2000+ cycles for lithium-iron batteries. Depending on who you believe, they’re actually good for up to 5000 PRACTICAL BOATING LAWRENCE SCHÄFFLER 58 The new wave in battery technology began with lithium ion – now there's lithium iron. They're easily confused, but it pays to know the difference because batteries are getting lighter, cheaper and more efficient. DRIVENBYVOLTS The genset is a small GX690 Honda. A second Lynch motor is bolted to its flywheel. E-Gen became the guinea-pig for the proof-of-concept voyage. 58 Boating New Zealand March 2014 PBoating_Batteries_March14.indd 58 19/02/2014 10:06:13 a.m.
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