The application of new generation batteries in old tactical radios
De Villiers, Daniel
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The power requirement for the soldier's equipment is largely supplied by batteries. Situational awareness is critical for a soldier to perform his tasks. Therefore the radio used by the soldier is a key element in situational awareness and also consumes the most power. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) uses the A43 tactical radio specifically designed for them. The radios are regarded as old technology but will be in use for about another five years. The radios still use non-rechargeable alkaline batteries which do not last very long and are not cost effective. The purpose of this study is to research the new generation secondary batteries as a possible replacement for the alkaline battery packs. The new generation batteries investigated in this study are the latest rechargeable batteries, also called secondary batteries. They include nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, lithium ion, rechargeable alkaline manganese and zinc air. The main features of rechargeable cells are covered and the cell characteristics are defined to allow the technology to be matched to the user requirement. Li-ion technology was found to be the best choice. This research also showed that international trends in battery usage are towards Li-ion. A new Li-ion battery was designed based on commercial cells. Tests showed that commercial Li-ion cells can be used in the radio and that they outperform the current battery by far. The study also examined the design of a New Generation Battery System consisting of an intelligent battery, a charger which uses a Systems Management Bus and a battery 'state of health" analyser to assist the user to maintain the batteries. Tests were done to demonstrate that the battery can withstand typical military environmental conditions. Expected military missions for a battery system were defined and used to compare the cost between the existing batteries and the new batteries system. Important usage factors which will influence the client when using a New Generation Battery System were addressed. To summarise, this study showed that by using a New Generation Battery System, the SANDF could relieve the operational cost of the A43 radio while saving on weight and enabling the soldier to carry out longer missions.
- Engineering