Home » Case Studies » An autonomous Saft battery solution to monitor the seas despite extreme cold in the Svalbard archipelago
Kongsberg Seatex AS is trusting Saft batteries to power their AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) base stations in Norway. The rechargeable lithium-ion MP 176065 xtd cells offer the required high energy and reliability, even outdoors in the arctic cold.
Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean covered with glaciers. It is home to 7 Norwegian national parks and 23 nature reserves; a largely untouched, yet fragile, natural environment inhabited by seabirds, and polar bears.
Kystverket (the Norwegian Coastal Administration) commissioned Kongsberg, specialist in advanced efficiency and safety technologies for the maritime sector, to provide a continuous overview of ship traffic around the archipelago. Thanks to an AIS (Automatic Identification Systems), the identity, position, speed, and course of ships are captured and transmitted for an efficient vessel traffic management.
Delivering stations that would work on this site posed many challenges. On Svalbard there isn’t any communication at all, no regular satellite coverage. The base stations had then to be located at a specific height to be able to transmit to each other. But then, installed too high, the antennae would freeze, too low, they wouldn’t be safe from bears.
The power source had also to be self-contained to bypass the lack of electricity infrastructure on the archipelago and to minimize the carbon footprint. The first idea was to use solar panels to power rechargeable batteries, but Svalbard is subject to six months of darkness every year. Wind turbines alone weren’t an option either as they didn’t generate enough power and they could freeze. Additionally, lithium-ion batteries cannot usually be charged at cold temperatures: the electrodes contract and the ions cannot penetrate correctly which leads to lithium deposit and a premature aging of the battery.
Finally, the solution had to offer at least 12 months without technical support, being checked or replaced only during the annual maintenance trips. Flying in and out by helicopter, Kongsberg teams have little time to spend on batteries and rather focus on the AIS station itself and on their own safety. Let’s not forget that the Svalbard archipelago is famous for the many polar bears wandering in its breathtaking landscapes.
First, Kongsberg had to find sturdy, reliable batteries, allowing a floating charge at low temperatures and offering good performances. They had been using Saft batteries successfully to power other products and Saft MP 176065 xtd proved to be the only rechargeable battery capable of addressing all their requirements. Each station is powered by 33 battery packs, each containing 9 smaller battery packs, designed and assembled by Saft using a special insulating casing.
To charge the batteries, the team came up with a solution using silicon coated wind turbines coupled to solar panels. The excess energy created by the turbine —once the station’s batteries are fully charged— is used to heat the base station cabinet that holds the batteries, thus preserving the batteries’ capacity. The remaining power goes into a kind of oven outside the cabinet, preventing extreme build-up of ice. The AIS base stations are so providing a continuous overview of ship traffic along the Norwegian coast and offer up to 10 years lifetime in the field. Batteries can be replaced in no time at all to reduce the risks of polar bear strikes during the short yearly maintenance operations.
We had been collaborating with Saft for many years. So, when we searched for a strong, reliable battery solution capable of powering the stations in this challenging environment, there wasn’t any hesitation. Their batteries had the capabilities, the experience was good and hence the choice was made.Henning G. Langlete Marketing & Communication manager - Kongsberg Seatex AS
Discover the full story on Kongsberg website.
For more information on Saft lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, visit the lithium-ion batteries product page.
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