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Limiting Factors to Advancing Thermal Battery Technology for Naval Applications
NAVAL SURFACE WARFARE CENTER SILVER SPRING MD
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Thermal batteries are primary reserve electrochemical power sources using molten salt electrolyte which experience little effective aging while in storage or dormant deployment. Thermal batteries are primarily used in military applications, and are currently used in a wide variety of Navy devices such as missiles, torpedoes, decays, and training targets, usually as power supplies in guidance, propulsion, and SafeArm applications. Technology developments have increased the available energy and power density ratings by an order of magnitude in the last ten years. Present thermal batteries, using lithium anodes and metal sulfide cathodes, are capable of performing applications where only less rugged and more expensive silver oxidezinc or silvermagnesium chloride seawater batteries could serve previously. Additionally, these batteries are capable of supplanting lithiumthionyl chloride reserve batteries in a variety of specifically optimized designs. Increases in thermal battery energy and power density capabilities are not projected to continue with the current available technology. Several battery designs are now at the edge of feasibility and safety. Since future naval systems are likely to require continued growth of battery energy and Power densities, there must be significant advances in battery technology. Specifically, anode alloy composition and new cathode materials must be investigated to allow for safe development and deployment of these high power, higher energy density batteries.
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