Torqeedo announced a new 80-kWh battery option for its Deep Blue electric drives—the Deep Blue Battery 80, which has twice the capacity of the previous generation of Deep Blue batteries and uses lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry. The capacity warranty for the new battery was increased to 10 years, compared to Deep Blue Battery 40’s 9 years (recreational use) and 4.5 years (commercial use).
LFP has lower energy density than lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (Li-NMC) chemistry, but the new battery packs are small, which Torqeedo says “enables a more compact footprint that is easier to install in many boats.” A different cell-to-pack architecture, with individual cells directly integrated into a pack, eliminates the need for intermediate modules or components and increases the energy density by volume to 272 Wh/l or 4.45 Wh per cu in. The company suggested that a low volume-to-weight ratio should make these batteries suitable for larger, heavier displacement vessels—cruising yachts or passenger ferries—that contribute to particulate air pollution and emit more greenhouse gases per mile than buses or trains, which makes their electrification a worthwhile effort.
Torqeedo said there are no customer projects yet to share for the use of the new Deep Blue Battery 80. But it pointed out that the Oranje Nassau, a 22m (72‘ ) 55-passenger sightseeing boat and water taxi operating on Berlin’s waterways, was repowered with a Deep Blue 50i electric drive and three older Deep Blue 40-kWh batteries, which provide enough energy to run for eight hours at operating speeds before they need to be recharged dockside overnight.
“Lithium iron phosphate batteries just took up too much room, but they have come a long way over the past couple of years,” said Torqeedo CEO Fabian Bez. “Li-NMC batteries, which we also use throughout our product portfolio, are still the best choice for many on-water applications due to their extremely high energy density. But LFP batteries have excellent longevity and safety and are made with abundant raw materials, which avoids the high cost, ethical and environmental concerns, and sourcing instability of critical metals in today’s fast-moving markets. LFP is now even being used in electric cars, including standard-range Teslas.”
Responding to my query, Martin Hammer, director of Torqeedo’s Future Product Portfolio, said, “There is no 100% perfect solution, and that’s why it’s important that we offer our customers a choice. For displacement applications and passenger vessels, the newest generation of LFP batteries make a lot of sense. For planing boats, racing sailboats, or any situation where batteries need to be moved or lifted, Li-NMC has the advantage due to its light weight and high discharge rate.”
About safety Hammer said that LFP batteries are more resistant to thermal runaway and much less reactive should it occur. There are also huge price differentials and greater supply chain stability. “You can source iron from almost anywhere, including right here in the USA, so it’s easier to have a clear view on the impacts and how they can be minimized. Plus, it’s a lot less expensive.” A check of the spot markets showed iron ore traded at $112 per metric ton (2,200 lbs) in July, while cobalt stood slightly above $29,000 per ton (and had traded above $80,000 per ton in spring of 2022).
“On the other hand,” Hammer pointed out, “Li-NMC batteries might be more likely to be recycled at end of life due to their valuable nickel and cobalt content. Many of these questions will be answered in time as more EV batteries age out of their second life and start to become available for recycling.”
He declined to offer specifics for the new Deep Blue Battery 80’s estimated carbon footprint, which supposedly is lower for LFP batteries due to lighter weight and smaller volume but difficult to pin down because of variations in construction technologies and materials used. Being free of cobalt, the majority of which is still mined under often precarious circumstances in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is another plus for the LFP batteries, although, as Hammer said, “All extractive processes, including fossil fuels, come with significant ethical and environmental concerns when it comes to their extraction, refining, transportation, storage, and use phases.”
Torqeedo Inc., 171 Erick St., Unit A-1, Crystal Lake, IL 60014 USA, tel. 815–444–8806, www.torqeedo.com.