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U.S. Navy Buys $81 Million Lithium-Iron Battery

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 4:56 PM on Monday, January 5th, 2015

Energy storage technology just got a big boost courtesy of Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club, also known as the U.S. Navy.

The Naval Sea Systems Command awarded an $81 million contract to K2 Energy Solutions, a developer and manufacturer of lithium-iron phosphate battery technology based in Henderson, Nevada, to design an energy storage system capable of powering “a large modular capacitor bank for the electromagnetic railgun.”

The electromagnetic railgun has become one of the largest science and technology projects supported by the Office of Naval Research. The railgun uses electricity rather than gunpowder or rocket motors to hurl hypersonic projectiles over extremely long distances. The railgun can deliver a projectile at speeds greater than Mach 7. A projectile can strike a target located more than 200 nautical miles away from a warship in about six minutes.

The railgun is one of the crown jewels in the Navy’s directed energy program, which also includes several high-risk, high-payoff laser technologies.

Directed energy technologies have critical advantages over traditional guns, bombs and other kinetic weapons, including the ability to attack multiple targets with greater precision. The Navy is not the only branch of the military pursuing directed energy applications.

“Directed Energy Weapons are a critical game-changing technology for the Navy-Marine Corps Team TISI -3.05%,” said James Thomsen, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition.

The ability to generate the massive pulse of electricity required by the railgun has been a critical barrier to mass deployment. The battery contract awarded to K2 Energy Solution suggests that this barrier has at least partially been cleared.

Lithium-iron phosphate batteries are one of many types of lithium-ion batteries available in the market today. They are rechargeable and are typically used for high power applications that demand flat discharge rates and stay relatively cool.

K2 Energy Solutions Inc Provider NAVSEA

The contract was awarded in July but the first order was not placed until today. The battery system is expected to be completed by 2016. Per the U.S Department of Defense’s press release announcing the award: “K2 Energy Solutions, Henderson, Nevada, is being awarded a ceiling-priced $81,400,000 firm-fixed price/cost-plus fixed-fee, basic ordering agreement for the fully self-contained battery intermediate energy store system required to power a large modular capacitor bank for the electromagnetic railgun.”

In addition to military applications, K2 Energy Solutions has developed both high energy and high power cell battery technologies for medical, industrial and utility applications. The company was not available to comment.

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