Jump to content
skippydiesel

SSB Lithium Iron batteries

Recommended Posts

It has come to my attention that SSB are offering a range of Lithium Ion Phosphate motorcycle battery's with something they call "prismatic cells" and they claim integrated monitoring of temperature, charge and cell balance & auto shut off if any parameter exceeded .

 

Further they claim they have solved the concerns over spontaneous ignition (due to the aforementioned monitored parameters).

 

Got to say their very weight, high CCA's, long charge life, any mounting position & claimed longevity appears VERY attractive.

 

I will be very interested in your collective thoughts on the suitability of these batteries for (experimental) aircraft use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lithium IRON (not ion) Phosphate batteries indeed seem to be immune to the runaway heating / fire of the Lithium ION batteries.

 

I had a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery for a couple of years in my Rotax 582 powered Streak Shadow - basically a drop in replacement for the lead acid battery, and saved approx 5Kg. It ran off the standard rotax regulator, and never gave any trouble.

I have read on this forum that some people have concerns about charging using a standard regulator, but I cant comment except to say that I had no issues at all

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Checked that site,

SSB Gosford, V-LFP-12_18,

but :" search returned no sesults",

They might have it, but not telling !.

spacesailor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Skippy, LiFe batteries don't have spontaneous ignition. That is their feature and why they exist at all. As for the rest of the claims, you would need to know the details of the charging electronics to know.

For example, what method of balancing charge is used? ( each cell needs attention in systems I know of.)

That said, Li is so much lighter than lead that the weight savings are wonderful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to be picky this is from the SSB web site :-

 

"SSB PowerSport Lithium Ion Phosphate Batteries (also known as Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries) are an extremely light weight battery designed for starting applications and are a completely dry battery making them spill-proof and leak-proof. You have to pick one up for yourself to truly understand how light they actually are compared to normal lead acid batteries. "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentlefolk - thank you for your responses. I hope there will be many more and that my real interest will be addressed:-

 

".................................. your collective thoughts on the suitability of these batteries for (experimental) aircraft use. "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

".....................I had a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery for a couple of years in my Rotax 582 powered Streak Shadow ........................- /QUOTE]

 

Horsefeathers - why only two years ??

 

SSB claim an operational life of 10 - did you stop flying the aircraft or did the battery fail ???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had one in my Jab powered aeroplane for 2 years. It weighs almost nothing.

Still going well. Really cranks the engine fast even on minus 5C days. I did put in a Powermate regulator because of a negative voltage spike isdue that resulted in weird fuel flow numbers on my EFIS/EMS based on advice from the EFIS people who said they had a few issues with Jab regulators. Previously the bus voltage at cruise settled at 14.2V but now it's 13.7V. I can't tell the difference other than reading the voltage numbers onnthe EFIS. All works well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Skippy, I sold the aircraft about 3 years ago, and as far as I know, the battery is still cranking OK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Earth X make one specifically for Aviation

Did get some concerns regarding massive output battery possibly giving Jabiru flywheel bolt problems.

They have not solved or even come up with a reason for all these breakages. Just replaced loctite with Nordlock washers

CAE went a different track

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure that problem is limited to lithium batteries. ...plenty of cases of melted alternator windings and escaping blue smoke (blue smoke is the thing that makes all electronics work) from Jabs with lead batteries. I'm now a firm believer in having a fuse/circuit bre a ker in the AC side of the Jab alternator after experiencing blue smoke in the cockpit and then a subsequent ground inspection showing molten copper dripping around the carb...with a lead battery - & the failure was the voltage regulator, not the battery, nor the alternator.

  • Informative 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Earth X make one specifically for Aviation....................................................

 

What price the Earth X ??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A year or so ago ......Very

And with usd worse now

Is an AU distributor in ACT i recall

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not sure that problem is limited to lithium batteries. ....

 

I am sure there are many electrical systems that can, in the right circumstances, generate fire - BUT my interest is the safety/reliability of this particular battery supplier/manufacturer's lithium battery's.

 

I fly a Rotax 912 ULS (100hp) motivated kit built (RAA 19 designation) aircraft. Soooo:

  • Can use non aviation battery if performance & price is right.
  • SSB claims astonishing performance from a motorcycle battery that will save me about 6 + kg for a lower price than dedicated aviation battery.
  • Prices seem to range from about $120 - $400

So far there are two respondents who have 2 years each of experience (all good) with these battery's - anyone else out there.??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Markdun, was the alternator problem with the original Jab alternator or the powermate? And where exactly did you install that AC breaker? I'm interested in avoiding what happened to you.

I thought I understood electric systems but at present I'm baffled by this electric bike. There are only 2 wires from the battery to the controller but from the controller to the motor there are 3 main ones (ok so far) and then about 12 fine wires. I have no idea what all these fine wires do. In my model planes, there are only 3 wires from the controller to the motor.

  • Agree 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am sure there are many electrical systems that can, in the right circumstances, generate fire - BUT my interest is the safety/reliability of this particular battery supplier/manufacturer's lithium battery's.

 

I fly a Rotax 912 ULS (100hp) motivated kit built (RAA 19 designation) aircraft. Soooo:

  • Can use non aviation battery if performance & price is right.
  • SSB claims astonishing performance from a motorcycle battery that will save me about 6 + kg for a lower price than dedicated aviation battery.
  • Prices seem to range from about $120 - $400

So far there are two respondents who have 2 years each of experience (all good) with these battery's - anyone else out there.??

 

I cant comment from an aviation point, but I use the SSB batteries in my motorbikes and JetSki, awesome weight saving, massive CCA. Well worth it from that point.

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought I understood electric systems but at present I'm baffled by this electric bike. There are only 2 wires from the battery to the controller but from the controller to the motor there are 3 main ones (ok so far) and then about 12 fine wires. I have no idea what all these fine wires do. In my model planes, there are only 3 wires from the controller to the motor.

 

Bikes have "sensored" motors. The sensors (hall sensors?) Feed rpm info back to the speed controller (throttle) to reduce power output to safe levels such as when taking off with very low rpm and max throttle. These might be the wires you see.

RC aircraft don't need sensored motors as the prop swings relatively free....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bruce, the 'bluesmoke meltdown' was in a friend's plane I was delivering. It had a rather large and very heavy lead battery with the original Jabiru/Kubota voltage regulator. There was no fuse in either the AC side of the regulator nor the DC side. (And I might add, despite being previously VH registered there is no main battery fuse either) The aircraft had both an ammeter and voltmeter and a toggle switch that could open circuit the DC side of the alternator (ie. you could switch off battery charging). In my familiarisation flights I found the voltage was creeping up to 16V as indicated on an anologue gauge (auto quality). The aircraft had a good avionics panel, transponder artificial horizon, turn & bank etc..almost IFR, but no glass EFIS/EMS. Being worried about damaging the electronics & the battery I thought it wise to turn off the charging whenever the voltage increased to 16V and to turn it back on when the voltage dropped to below 12.5V. Not a big task as the battery was huge...maybe it needed about 5 minutes every hour. However, I have subsequently read a Jabiru advisory that it is possible to exceed the current capacity of the alternator at high rpm with a voltage regulator failure and a battery that will absorb a heavy charge current. Their advice on noticing a regulator failure is to isolate the charging circuit and land and replace the regulator. The approach we have now taken is to install the Powermate regulator which should limit the voltage to 14.2 and current to 8A and to install a 15A auto fuse on the AC side of the regulator (plus a lot of re-wiring as well). This means if the regulator fails, at most you are up for the cost of a new regulator plus a 50c fuse, and not have to contemplate rewinding the jab stator or buying a new one for $500. And more importantly you will not get molten copper dripping onto your carburettor.

 

This is all a bit off topic though.

 

My understanding is that the lithium batteries like the SSB are able to deliver heaps of current for little voltage drop, and so can crank an engine really well, right up to the point of total discharge. However, the electronic battery management system does not tolerate high charging currents...so if you do substantially discharge one, you can damage it by charging with a standard lead acid battery charger/regulator and particularly by 'jumper' connecting it to a charged lead battery or running car's battery. I'm no expert in this, but this is what the battery suppliers say. I think my Lithiumax 400 battery has a maximum charge current of 8A, but it easily delivers 60A plus to crank the Jabbie 2200...real fast. So the one downside of the Lithium batteries are no jump starting.

  • Helpful 2
  • Informative 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recall that's the "aviation" part in Earth X, they have advanced BMS inside protecting battery and output for alarm light

Reckon they were more like $700

  • Informative 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The battery management system can't be that good if it doesn't protect the battery when jump starting. I can imagine a reverse current limiter of some sort to do this.

Thanks Markdun, please let us know how the new setup works over time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It has come to my attention that SSB are offering a range of Lithium Ion Phosphate motorcycle battery's with something they call "prismatic cells" ...

I will be very interested in your collective thoughts on the suitability of these batteries for (experimental) aircraft use.[/Quote]

Skippy I believe that LiFePO4 batteries are the ones which don't burn or explode. I believe they are composed of cells which can't take more than 3.2 volts. One cranks my Jab 2.2. It's claimed to take 16v charge, so I guess it must have five cells. Since the Jab alternator delivers about 14v, I guess these calls are never fully charged.

  • Informative 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few observations on EarthX batteries, specifically the ETX680

 

This was installed in an aircraft with a 912ULS and standard regulator mounted on the cockpit side of the firewall.

The fault line was connected to the EFIS so any fault condition was immediately apparent.

 

Not long after install a fault condition was reported which after consultation with the manufacturer it was decided that the fault was indicating that the cells were not quite balanced. The suggested solution was to charge the battery at a slightly higher voltage (14.2v) instead on the 13.8v which was output from the rotax regulator. The battery was removed and charged at the higher voltage and the fault disappeared.

I decided that because the charging voltage was on the bottom end of the spec (13.9v to 14.6v), that the charging voltage on the rotax regulator would be increased to 14.2 volts.

At this increased voltage there have still been 3 occaisons over 50hours of flying where a fault has been indicated, but the fault condition soon clears after 5 or 10min or so. Possibly a slightly higher charge voltage would stop this but I havent bothered. My suspicion is because of the cell balancing circuitry, a higher charge voltage is beneficial in helping the cell balancing operate. ( no higher than 14.6v of course)

 

Although the manual says “no jump starting from a car battery” the warranty section clarifiies no jump starting from a battery of significantly higher capacity. It does not rule out jump starting persay. This indicates to me that jump starting from a small lithium powercube would not be a problem.

The battery cranks the rotax so well I think more care needs to be taken in choke/throttle settings so that as the engine fires up excessive load is not placed on the sprag clutch.

 

As an aside, when the battery is partially flat, the battery charge current in the above environment is about 8amps. Under this condition with all the other loads the regulator temperature reaches about 70deg on a 25deg day. (regulator output approx 18amp under this condition)

 

Very happy with this battery, saves a few kgs, fantastic cranking regardless of ambient temperature; except of course for the price, although it is supposedly lasts a lot longer.

 

Franky

  • Like 1
  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I recall that's the "aviation" part in Earth X, they have advanced BMS inside protecting battery and output for alarm light

Reckon they were more like $700

 

 

is it possible that the SSB Motorcycle Lithium batteries are using the same sort of protection (BMS??)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A few observations on EarthX batteries, specifically the ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

 

except of course for the price, although it is supposedly lasts a lot longer.

 

Franky

 

Great info Franky.

 

On your last comment - SSB claim a 10 year operational life (2 year warranty). If true, this would make them quite comparative with lead acid equivalents (despite high purchase price)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×