Batteries for nuclear power plants

Batteries for nuclear power plants

Early times Nuclear power plants

High-performance plantè battery

In the time from the Second World War to the ’60s open Plantè cells were used for the utilities. The open Plantè cells consisted out of glass containers without the lid. The positive plate was Plantè, the negative also Plantè or a box plate both antimony-free. The connectors were made out of lead. The cells could be repaired if bulging of plates or short circuits occurred. Hence the life was in the range of 20 to 25 years. But because of the open-cell design, new developments in the ’60s removed the open Plantè.

High Performance Plantè battery (GB) or GroE (Germany)

The British company Chloride introduced in the 60es the so-called High-performance Plantè battery followed by the other European companies. In Germany, the type was called GroE. The cell was characterized by still the Plantè battery plate for the positive, but a flat-plate with a PbSb alloy for the negative. The strap and the pillars were also made in a PbSb alloy. The plates were put very near together with microporous separators, so the energy density could be improved. The pillars got copper inserts and the connectors made from copper lead-coated were bolted to the terminals. 

This modernized, so-called High Performance Plantè battery was used for the Nuclear power plants, which were built in the years 1973 to 1986. These types did not reach anymore the lifetime of 20 to 25 years.

Problems of High Performance Plantè Batteries

  • Container cracks: The Plante battery in SAN container had a balcony for carrying the positive plates. At larger cells cracks occurred at the end of the balcony. The later designs of the OGi and OPzS batteries had container without a balcony.
  • Flakes: Due to the combination of different alloys in the cell, flakes from the strap were released and short circuits evolved.
  • Copper inserts and copper connectors require acid-tight pillar bushings. The pillar bushings were not acid-tight, and the cells failed by corrosion. The company KAW Germany went bankrupt due to such failures.
  • The positive active mass is produced during a corrosion process, using potassium chromate. This chemical has to be washed carefully out of the plates. This produces a lot of wash water and if not carefully removed reduces the lifetime strongly.
  • Short circuits by bending and/or growth of the positive plate: The plates had only a distance of 2-3mm anymore, so that bending of plates is more critical. The friction of the positive plates to the negative plates has the effect of lifting up of the poles. The emerging leakages shortened the life.
  • The weight and volume of the High performance Plantè battery were considerably larger than OGi or OPzS type batteries.

Next Generations of OPzS batteries for nuclear power plants

In the meantime the nuclear power plants have got replacement batteries. Due to the above mentioned problems and further developments of OGi and OPzS batteries, including introduction of PbSb1,6% alloys the new OGi and OPzS batteries were replacing the HPPlantè battery to a large extent.

Now we have in Europe still 20% HPPlantè batteries, 40% OGi and 40% OPzS batteries.

Table 1 Characteristics comparison of batteries for nuclear power plants

Plantè Type OPzS OGi
Cycles 75% C4 (IEC) 1500 500
Practical life @ 27 Deg C 10 Years 15 Years 12 Years
Pillar bushing Still today systematic failures occur
Containers With balcony Without balcony Without balcony
Foot Print 190% 100% 100%
Weight 190% 100% 100%
Cost 160% 100% 110%

This article was written by Dr Wieland Rusch for Microtex

Dr Wieland Rusch, designed most of our batteries when he was associated with Microtex during the years 2008 to 2011 During this time he installed several world class processes & methods of battery manufacture which ensure that we produce a high quality lead acid battery, compared with any leading brand worldwide. Dr Rusch is from Germany with an illustrious career in the battery industry. He is the inventor of copper stretch-metal submarine batteries.

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