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Old 21-07-2008, 18:41   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: On s/v Tahina
Boat: St. Francis 50
Posts: 26
Reducing Engine/Generator Time for Charging

It occurs to me that advances in hybrid/electric car batteries may already offer the ability to greatly alter our experience as cruising sailors when it comes to charging our batteries.

One of the obvious objectives for new batteries is to reduce the charging times without impacting the life-cycle of the batteries. Most boat charging controllers currently have to greatly reduce the number of amps fed to the batteries over time in order to make sure they do not fully charge too quickly to keep temperatures and life cycles within parameters. This means our engines run for a much longer period of time than the output capability of our alternators/inverters are capable of producing.

Toshiba has recently been working towards releasing new battery technology (based on Lithium Ion) that charges 50 times faster at full amp rates, yet still maintains a life cycle of 3000-5000 charges/discharges. The batteries are only being released for commercial applications initially (read expensive). They are called SCiB (Super Charge ion Battery). See their product web site:

TOSHIBA - New rechargeable battery SCiB(TM)

It occurs to me that even if these are expensive initially, it might be possible to justify buying a bank of these batteries with say 1/8th the Amp Hours of your boat's normal battery bank. Then you could start your engine, take advantage of your high-output alternator/inverter and fast charge the SCiB and simultaneously perform initial faster charging of the normal batteries. Then turn off the engine and let the SCiB do the slower topping off of the other batteries. This could cut down the time required to run engines or generator by at least two thirds...

Doesn't this make sense?

Even if these new SCiBs aren't practical (no prices listed, nor have I confirmed they are shipping). Aren't there other batteries out there which can handle fast charging and serve as a reservoir for finishing the charge on our normal batteries? I realize this may require a special charging controller or new software for them. But, I would love cutting the time running engines/generator by a large margin...

Here's some more info on the Toshiba SCiBs:

Green Car Congress: Toshiba Launches New Li-Ion Battery Business; Plans to Enter Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Market
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