COCKEYSVILLE, Md. (March 9, 2011) – The United States Marine Corps (USMC) selected Saft, the world specialist in the design and manufacture of high-tech industrial batteries, to supply advanced energy storage systems for its Improved Battery System Program (IBS). Saft signed a four-year contract, worth up to $20 million, to supply high-energy and high-power lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries to be demonstrated in military ground vehicles for engine start power and energy for extended silent watch missions.

Saft has a wealth of experience in the defense industry as a supplier of battery systems for emergency back-up lighting, engine starting and other auxiliary systems. Based on this heritage, Saft’s Li-ion batteries were selected for demonstration in military vehicles. The USMC IBS program was funded to demonstrate advanced chemistries to replace existing 6TL standard lead acid military vehicle starting batteries.

“The IBS program shows a commitment from the Marine Corps to demonstrate advanced technology to improve existing platforms and we’re thrilled to be selected as a technology partner,” said Thomas Alcide, general manager of Saft’s Specialty Battery Group. “This program allows us to apply Saft’s advanced Li-ion technology to an existing battery platform, and we are confident that we will be able to improve its capabilities and bring additional value to the end-user. The order could open a large market for replacing existing 6TL standard lead acid batteries with Saft’s Li-ion batteries.”

Li-ion technology advantages

Li-ion battery technology offers a number of key advantages for designers in the defense industry, including high-power and/or energy storage in a compact space and weight-saving package, high-efficiency, long calendar and cycle life (even when operating in extreme temperatures), and zero-maintenance requirements.

Saft has developed a power control architecture that enables the use of Li-ion electrochemistry on a MIL-STD-1275 power bus. This architecture will be used with electrochemical solutions to provide a fully compliant energy storage system specified to meet the needs for the high-power and high-energy Improved Battery Systems.

Compared to lead acid technology, Saft’s Li-ion energy storage solution offers a vast improvement in cycle life, which will result in reduced maintenance costs during demanding military operational profiles.