Military battery systems are used to provide power for a wide variety of vehicles and equipment, including land vehicles, robotics, radios and communications, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), surveillance equipment, and remote weapons stations. They are also used in silent watch scenarios, where a vehicle’s engine is switched off and all electrical equipment is powered solely from batteries.
Military batteries are typically designed to be more rugged than regular batteries, as they must withstand greater amounts of wear and tear as well as harsh environmental factors such as impact from drops, extremes of temperature, salt spray, gunfire, shock and vibration.
Primary Cell Batteries
Single-use military batteries that cannot be recharged are known as primary batteries, whereas those that can be recharged are known as secondary batteries. Primary batteries usually become throwaway items once discharged.
Primary batteries typically have a lower self-discharge rate than secondary batteries, making them ideal for applications where they may be left unused or with low current drain for long periods of time. Primary battery chemistries include carbon-zinc, alkaline, and lithium.
Rechargeable Secondary Batteries
Rechargeable secondary battery systems may use a number of different technologies. One of the oldest is lead-acid, which is a reliable and low-cost technology that is easy to manufacture. However, lead-acid batteries typically have a lower energy density than other battery chemistries, as well as a shorter lifecycle which means that they will have to be replaced more often.
Nickel metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries have a greater energy density than lead-acid batteries, and can also be recharged relatively quickly. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries also have a high energy density, and can output a higher voltage, meaning that a battery of a specific voltage can be made more compact and lightweight by using Li-ion cells rather than other technologies.
Military Battery Chargers
Military battery chargers may be standalone units, and some batteries have chargers built into the enclosure. Charging algorithms may be adjustable for different battery chemistries, operating temperatures, and charge time requirements.