Yacht & Coast

Broad Reach

Mastervolt powers AC, VOR entrants

July 7, 2013 by robert in Broad Reach, Featured with 0 Comments

AMSTERDAM _ Teams in both the 2013 America’s Cup and the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race will set sail with cutting edge battery power made by Mastervolt International BV. The company has equipped them with  its 2nd generation lithium lon battery that are efficient, up to 70% smaller and lighter than lead-acid units and have 3 times their lifespan.

This summer, Oracle Team USA, the 34th America’s Cup Defender, will use Mastervolt’s MLI Ultra battery technology.  As will the one-design yachts being built for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race.

In the yachting industry, lead-acid batteries reign supreme. That’s because weight is a burning issue to neither motor yacht owners nor weekend sailors who rely on dockside wall power. But it is a huge issue for VOR and AC racers whose nav and comms gear gobble up power. Lithium ion technology has made great inroads into laptops, cellphones and cameras. Car and plane makers, too, have warmed to the logic of long-life, quick-charge batteries that discharge more fully than traditional ones. One problem has been overheating _ a hurdle Mastervolt scaled by putting iron-phosphate in the lithium ion batteries it launched in 2009.

Mastervolt developed its MLI Ultra at its headquarters in Amsterdam. It has 3 times the energy storage capacity of lead-acid batteries, is much smaller and lighter and lasts. The compoany says the lifetime of a lithium ion battery is at least four times as long: 2000 (dis)charging cycles compared to roughly 500 for a high-quality lead-acid battery. Furthermore, a lithium ion battery is capable of discharging much more fully: Up to 80%, compared to 50% in a lead-acid battery. This means that the available capacity is 30% better utilized with a lithium ion battery.

At the heart of Mastervolt’s lithium batteries is a smart Battery Management System whose computerized section lies in a waterproof compartment in the unit’s aqua-green cover. The BMS makes quick charging possible, ensures cells are not overcharged or overheated. Nor discharged too deeply or become imbalanced.

Lithium ion batteries cost more than standard ones. Mastervolt Marketing Manager Pieter-Jan Vessies put that into context, telling the trade magazine Jachtbouw Nederland: “If you look at the price per (dis)charging cycle, the lithium ion battery becomes much more attractive. Compare a high-quality, lead-acid battery with a comparable capacity lithium ion one. The former has roughly 500 (dis)charging cycles against 2,000 for the lithium ion unit. So the per-cycle-cost of a lithium ion battery is roughly half that of a lead-acid battery. Put another way: the more the battery is charged, the faster you recoup the costs of a lithium ion battery.”


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