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24 Apr 03. A collaboration agreement announced today between two world leaders in battery technology promises to deliver higher performance batteries that will radically change the combat experience of soldiers. The agreement could lead to a weight reduction of 30% for batteries carried by soldiers on operations. With power supply already a crucial factor on the battlefield, smaller lighter batteries will bring significant advantages to soldiers on the ground.

The UK’s AEA Battery Systems and FMC Lithium of the US will work together to develop a new generation cell technology for future applications. The materials technology experience of FMC Lithium along with AEA’s manufacturing and technology licensing experience means that the new technology could lead to an increase in performance of a further 30% – 50% – leading to smaller, lighter batteries.

Lithium-ion cell technology, the current market leading battery technology invented by AEA Battery Systems’ parent company AEA Technology, has delivered a revolution in mobile consumer electronics over the last 15 years. Radically reducing the size and weight of batteries, this technology can now be found in all mobile phones and laptops.

The implications of new technologies for the soldier in the field are huge. The majority of UK soldiers currently use nickel cadmium (NiCd) battery packs meaning that the advantages of this new technology could be dramatic:
* Lithium-ion batteries currently provide a massive reduction in
weight and volume – the average soldier currently carries more than 16kg of
batteries, with Lithium-ion batteries this can be reduced to 3kg – but with
a new technology this could be reduced by a further 30%.
* the new technology will also provide the ability to perform in
extreme temperatures – from -51ºC to +75ºC, with little reduction in
* the new technology will also provide greater reliability and no
‘memory effect’ of Lithium-ion – with current NiCd batteries, repeat
charging over a period of time leads to batteries not accepting a full
charge, leading to unpredictable performance
AEA Battery Systems’ batteries are already widely used by armed forces in the UK and abroad and the company was recently appointed sole supplier of batteries and chargers for the UK MoD’s Bowman project.

David Loughborough, Managing Director of AEA Battery Systems, says:
“Soldiers need to carry an increasing amount of batteries for the new
equipment and weaponry they use. Currently these weigh up to 40 per cent of their total burden and can prove unreliable. Our collaboration with FMC Lithium will help us to spearhead developments in battery technology, delivering lighter, durable portable power solutions. These will have a longer life, higher performance and lower whole life costs. The new batteries would only be five per cent of the total weight, potentially reducing the radio operator or signalman’s average pack weight from 101lbs (current weight) to 83.5lbs.”

The collaboration will also lead to improvements in power technology for a wide range of industries and consumer goods such as mobile phones and laptops. Existing customers from both companies will be offered the
improved technology as soon as it becomes available.

Victor Maurtua, FMC Lithium Primaries Sales and Marketing Director, says: “This collaboration is an excellent ‘fit’ for FMC Lithium.
AEA Battery Systems is a premier battery system developer and manufacturer, widely respected throughout the industry for its expertise in R&D, technology licensing, and cell and battery manufacture. FMC Lithium brings its battery material experience, advanced chemistry expertise and recent process innovations to this alliance, which will provide value-added solutions to meet growing customer demands around the globe.”

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