Tim Knox and I recently (virtually) met with Bruce MacPherson of Acerelon to discuss their recently launched ‘Essential’ battery range whose target market includes marine applications with a view to assessing its potential for Narrowboats and other craft. Aceleron, who are based close to the Worcester and Birmingham canal near Bromsgrove, appear to have a unique approach to battery lifecycle and sustainability, selling products with new cells as well as with ‘second use’ cells.
A single ‘Essential’ battery consists of 128 cylindrical Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LiFePO4) cylindrical cells and their battery controller; what sets them apart from the many other similar products is that each cell can be replaced and each group of 4 cells is individually monitored. What this means is that the battery can be serviced and cells replaced to extend its lifetime without having to dispose of it and buy a complete replacement. Aceleron currently offers this ‘refresh’ service themselves, though it is unclear how easy it would be for end users to perform this or whether third parties would be authorized to offer this in the future.
A rundown of the main specifications for their 48V model which appears the best fit for marine propulsion:
- Nominal Capacity: 28Ah
- Useable Capacity: 1.47kWh
- Warrantied cycles (with new cells): 5,000 @100% useable capacity discharge
- Maximum cells in parallel: 10
- Weight: 15kg
- End-user price (with new cells): £975 plus VAT
Like many modern Lithium battery packs, bluetooth monitoring via a smartphone is supported as well as via a CAN bus connection (though unfortunately it doesn’t claim to be Victron compatible). Our quick take on its suitability for leisure marine applications:
- The acquisition price is on the high side for LiFePO4 battery packs based purely on £ per kWh
- For applications with higher daily usage (e.g. day rental boats) the per cycle cost with the ability to renew the product could make it very competitive
- Would appear to users who appreciate the re-use inherent in the design and the long warranty
- The maximum of 10 cells in parallel could limit its appeal for larger (>50′) narrowboats which are often built with >15kWh useable capacity
Feel free to post any questions in the comments and we will try and answer or pass them onto the manufacturer.