DDD-Batman: launch of international cooperation shines a light on marine battery health

The research institute Fraunhofer ISE, battery supplier Corvus, the Marine Service Unit of Costa Group Carnival Maritime GmbH and DNV GL, the world’s leading classification society, have launched “DDD-Batman”, a new MarTERA-sponsored project to study maritime battery health. As the uptake of maritime batteries increases, being able to provide a better picture of the overall health of installed batteries and the available power, is important for building confidence in the safety of hybrid and electric systems. MarTERA is an EU Horizon 2020 cofound scheme, aimed at strengthening the European Research Area (ERA).

In the automotive industry, all roads seem to be leading to electric vehicles. In shipping the tide is turning a little more slowly, but using battery systems onboard is increasingly becoming an attractive solution in many shipping segments. In addition to pure electric vessels, batteries can enable significant gains in efficiency and emissions reductions in many ship types.

The objective of the DDD-Batman project is to develop data-driven methods for diagnostics and prognostics of battery systems and to provide methods for verifying the battery state of health (SOH) based on real-time sensor measurements. Continuous operational sensor data of the temperatures, discharge rates, voltages and impedance behaviour can be used to model and forecast the degradation of the battery – showing the SOH at any time.

“At the moment, vessels that depend on a Li-ion battery system need an annual validation test of the battery’s SOH. At DNV GL we require an annual validation testing of a battery’s SoH for ships utilizing Li-ion battery systems for propulsion or manoeuvring,” says Sverre Eriksen, Senior Principal Engineer, at DNV GL – Maritime. “This can be quite time consuming and has some limitations in the data we obtain. As batteries continue to penetrate the industry, we need to improve the data we have, especially as we see batteries in operation for longer periods. The DDD-Batman project could result in us having much better data on the health of a battery system, enabling predictive maintenance strategies and offering a better look at the remaining useful life of the battery.”

Corvus is very pleased that this project has now started. Removing the class mandated annual capacity test and replacing it with an advanced analytical model using measured onboard battery data as input will be beneficial to the entire maritime industry. First and foremost, for the shipowner as she or he will no longer need to limit the vessel’s operation to obtain a validated SOH. He or she will also be able to better monitor and evaluate how the battery is used and do needed adjustments which will save costs, provide greater predictability for maintenance and increase security. For Corvus, this means we will be able to automate existing processes and provide better services to our customers. Improved operational data from our installed base will also enable us to further improve sizing algorithms and models to more accurately predict how a change in operational profile affects battery life.

“As Costa Group we want to take a further important step forward along the path to emission-neutral ship operations by installing innovative battery technology on board our ships,” says Jens Kohlmann, Vice President Asset Management Carnival Maritime GmbH, the marine service unit of the Costa Group, the leading cruise operator in Europe. “In conjunction with Corvus Energy, we are working on the use of lithium-ion battery storage systems on board the AIDA fleet. AIDAperla is to be fitted with a battery storage system with an output of ten megawatt hours in what will be the largest system of its kind ever installed on a passenger ship.”

“The service life of battery cells has become significantly longer in recent years. However, since battery systems are associated with high investment costs and have to work reliably, precise state of health monitoring and, ideally, extension of service life by adjusting the operating conditions is of great importance. A major obstacle at present is that although some aging processes are understood, their interaction as well as measurement and prediction during operation are still a huge challenge.” says Maximilian Bruch, scientist at Fraunhofer ISE. “The targeted laboratory tests and at the same time the analysis of load profiles and operating data in real use cases make the DDD-Batman project an excellent approach to significantly increase the precision and validity of online ageing monitoring. In addition to the applied development, the project contributes to the general scientific understanding of battery aging.”

The project will collect operational data from ships in addition to laboratory data and develop reliable and secure strategies for data collection, storage and sharing. The primary focus will be on battery systems for cruise ships, including battery lifetimes, replacement strategies, life cycle assessments and shore connection procedures.

DDD-Batman is also looking to set new standards for reliability and lifetime prognostics, deliver recommendations and give input to standards, recommended practices and class rules for batteries. The project hopes to increase confidence in battery-powered ships, making batteries a more attractive alternative and helping to enhance shipping’s uptake of electric propulsion systems.

See a list of worldwide manufacturers of battery packs.

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