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Power Management: Lessons from Boeing

BatteryAnyone who owns a boat may have been thinking about batteries and charging systems quite a bit since Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner nightmare. The fact that diagnosis of the problem took as long as it did is a frightening prospect, but one cannot deny the benefits of new battery technologies—provided they’re managed properly. “We’re boat guys and we understand the implications of having something bad happen on a boat,” says Grant Brown, director of marketing for Corvus Energy (www.corvus-energy.com), a provider of lithium-ion battery solutions for the marine market. “You don’t have any place to run.” In the Boeing situation, the batteries themselves and the charging and management system were provided by different manufacturers. “We don’t allow anybody to just go and install our batteries,” Brown says. “When we sell a battery we design it specifically for a system. When the battery is going to be commissioned and actually put into the field to work, we always have the last say on how that’s done.”

Corvus batteries use cells manufactured by Dow Kokam in a state-of-the-art facility in Michigan. Because they are manufactured with a very stable polymer electrolyte, the Dow Kokam cells used by Corvus are rugged when presented with physical trauma. Each battery has a built-in computer equipped with sensors and communication devices. The computer can shut the battery down if there’s a failure or problem, and can transmit data on the problems to Corvus using Internet, Wi-Fi, cellular, or even satellite communications. While it may sound like overkill, these batteries carry a lot of stored energy on a boat. Making sure it remains under control is a smart move. 

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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