A lithium battery was installed on a top-secret bathyscaphe that caught fire in the Barents Sea. New technology for the submarine fleet introduced during the last repair.
The fact that it was the lithium battery that exploded off the coast of Severomorsk was confirmed by Fontanka five structurally unrelated sources. According to our data, the thermal acceleration of the battery led to a voluminous fire, followed by a series of explosions. Killed personnel nasal compartments. The shock wave was of such strength that it was felt on the boat carrier. The device at the time of the explosion was in the process of docking with it. The survivors battened down the central compartment, completed the docking, jammed the nuclear reactor and evacuated to the BS-136 Orenburg. Fearing further explosions and spreading fire to the carrier, the crew of the mother boat flooded the vehicle, for this very reason, on arriving at the base in Severomorsk, the bathyscaphe was completely filled with water.
As explained by the “Fontanka” source in the Main Command of the Navy, in addition to the atomic reactor, electric propulsion devices are installed on the deep-sea apparatus. They are used for precise maneuvering and dynamic positioning under water. Such accuracy is important when docked with a boat carrier. These same thrusters are not powered from the reactor, but from the battery. It is well known that lead-acid batteries are used in the submarine fleet. According to our publication, a lithium battery was installed relatively recently. In any case, exactly after the repair mentioned in open sources in 2012.
According to the interlocutors "Fontanka", the situation got out of control when the device was "attached" to the boat carrier. A short circuit at the time of docking led to an instantaneous discharge of the battery and its thermal acceleration. Electrochemical processes provoked an explosion (according to another source, there were several of them) and spontaneous combustion.
According to experts, the height of the force of the flame at the time of the explosive depressurization of a battery of such capacity reaches several meters, and the decontamination of a lithium battery by volumetric chemical quenching systems or water is inefficient, as the battery itself emits combustible substances and oxygen. “A burning lithium battery can only be cooled,” explained Fontanka on condition of anonymity.
In open sources there is no mention that lithium batteries began to be installed on submarines with a nuclear reactor. In October 2018, Japan announced the launch of the world's first non-nuclear submarine Oryu, equipped with lithium-ion batteries. At a scientific conference in Singapore, retired Vice-Admiral Masao Kobayashi said then that these batteries have a longer service life than lead-acid ones and provide a high duration of underwater travel at high speeds. Six months later, the South Korean company Daewoo announced a similar development. Clarified that the assembly of the boat will begin in the second half of 2019.
Representatives of the Russian defense industry in one row of lithium-ion batteries and submarines have never been put in public. About a year ago, articles on the coming revolution in shipbuilding began to appear in the specialized publications. The press began to promote the trend of unpretentious service, superior energy consumption and almost one and a half times the cost of this type of uninterruptible power supply. The latter thesis, by the way, goes against the Japanese, who recognized that the lithium batteries and the associated power system would cost the project about $ 100 million.
“In addition, lithium-ion technologies have advantages in another, not very recent, issue - fire safety. As already mentioned, LIA does not emit hydrogen, which distinguishes this type of battery from lead-acid and nickel-cadmium batteries. So, LIA does not require special gas removal systems, ventilation and maintenance. Thus, they are safe and convenient to use, ”wrote Korabel.ru last June.
The Novosibirsk-based Liotech company calls itself the only Russian manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries. The creators of the SPARK system are Rosnano and Rosimushchestvo. The name is obliged to the abbreviation of the term "Li-ion technology", says the company's official website. The scale of solidity is supported by releases about the trolley buses with Liotech batteries, which “have been carrying passengers through the streets of St. Petersburg, Tula, Barnaul, Novosibirsk, throughout the Republic of Crimea and in Argentina since 2014”.
In February 2019, the commercial service Rosnano posted in business publications a message about the receipt of the certificate of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping by its subsidiary.
Liotech, being a pioneer of the ground transportation electrification market, hopes to become the first and in the new, only emerging market. Over the next four years, up to 1,325 civilian ships and up to 652 warships will be built under the state program “Shipbuilding Development 2013–2030”. According to our estimates, in the current year the market may amount to about 0.5 billion rubles, with an increase to 0.7 billion rubles in 2020, ”as quoted by Vedomosti, the project sales director (sea fleet) of Liotech »Alexei Oreshin.