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Old 05-19-2016, 05:06 PM   #1
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Carbon Foam Batteries 1 Year Later

Hi all -

Last year we installed new Firefly Oasis carbon foam batteries. We made a video highlighting our experience with them so far:

http://www.pacificnwboater.com/channels/marine-product-demos-installations/programs/firefly-oasis-carbon-foam-battery

In an effort to dissuade some potential comments, here are a few disclaimers. We are not electricians. We do not sell or make any money off any sales of batteries. We needed a new house bank, so we researched available technologies and decided these were what we wanted. And we think other boaters will be very interested!

If anyone would like to find out more about these batteries you'll find a lot of good info, Nigel Calder's tests and technical specs at Bruce Schwab's website:

http://www.bruceschwab.com/advanced-energy-storage-systems/firefly-energys-oasis-group-31/

If you recognize Bruce's name that's because he was a famous non-stop solo sailboat racer. He's since become an expert at what he calls "energy independence".
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Old 05-20-2016, 02:51 PM   #2
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I don't know why the link didn't work in the original post, so here's another try:

Pacific NW Boater - PRODUCTS - TESTED: Carbon Foam Batteries
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Old 05-20-2016, 04:30 PM   #3
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Yup, we'll be switching over to those when our lead acid golf cart batteries need to be replaced. Hopefully, in the meantime, they'll figure out how to lower the cost to manufacture them...
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Old 05-20-2016, 05:06 PM   #4
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ASTM data?

Nice video
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Old 05-20-2016, 07:02 PM   #5
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Well, no dealer anywhere near South Florida or Texas.
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Old 05-20-2016, 07:22 PM   #6
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They have been around a very short time...from the Firefly website;
http://fireflyenergy.com/about-us/hi...of-innovation/

"Firefly’s disruptive and advanced battery technology was originally developed in the R&D laboratories of CATERPILLAR, a world-renowned manufacturer of heavy equipment, with significant internal investments. CATERPILLAR got involved in lead acid batteries as they had significant failures in the normal lead acid batteries which were fitted on their heavy equipment. A Carbon Foam Grid was developed and used to make the plates of well established & proven Lead Acid Battery Chemistry. High sulphation resistance and delayed corrosion of positive plates provided 2-3 times enhancement in the performance of these Batteries.

Firefly Energy was set up in 2000 at Peoria, Illinois, being the world headquarters of CAT. Looking at the potential of this technology, a patent application was filed and a US Patent was granted in 2005 for the use of Carbon Foam in lead acid batteries. After intensive product development & tests, “Oasis” batteries were offered to several customers in small quantities in 2007.

Several Patents have since been filed and the technology is patented in several countries including Canada, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, South Korea, China and India.

When CATERPILLAR made a decision to shed its non-core equipment businesses in 2010, Firefly International Energy Co. acquired the technology along with all the Patents, R&D, Testing and Manufacturing Equipment.

In 2011, Firefly developed and perfected the processes required to manufacture the Microcell Carbon Foam, a key ingredient in the new revolutionary battery, in-house, and at a highly competitive cost. With new investments, Firefly is manufacturing the patented Carbon Foam battery in-house since 2012 in its 53,00 Ft2 facility in Peoria which includes, among other equipment, a state of the art testing area with over 200 battery test channels.

In 2012, a license was granted to Firefly Batteries Pvt. Ltd., India, to manufacture batteries and cells using this patented technology. Since then, a large scale, world class manufacturing facility has been set-up in India and production has commenced from December, 2014."
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Old 05-20-2016, 07:25 PM   #7
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Greetings,
Firefly eh???? How can they be anything but perfect...

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Old 05-20-2016, 08:09 PM   #8
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Looks very promising! When my Rolls are due to replace, I'll look at these closely.
Thanks for the info.
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Old 05-21-2016, 05:55 AM   #9
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It is nice to have a batt set that is difficult to destroy by removing too much juice.

BUT the real need is for a batt set that can hold as much energy as a gallon of fuel, at the same weight.

About 120 years now of battery tech, still not here.
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Old 05-21-2016, 06:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonfish View Post
I don't know why the link didn't work in the original post, so here's another try:

Pacific NW Boater - PRODUCTS - TESTED: Carbon Foam Batteries
Cool Vid - TY!
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Old 05-21-2016, 08:58 AM   #11
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Interesting video. Will be interesting to see what capacities look like 5 years down the road. If the battery price drop significantly, I could see them being a game changer. From my math, doubling the quantity of the golf cart batteries gives the same duration at less than half the acquisition price. If one compares the two types of batteries in banks with the same draw down capacity, not sure the weight and size difference justifies twice the price in a displacement hull. Also replacing commonly used light fixture bulbs with LEDs would also make a significant difference and reduce generator time.

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Old 05-21-2016, 09:39 AM   #12
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The real difference is that they can repeatedly be left in a partial state of charge with no ill (sulfation) effect.
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Old 05-21-2016, 09:40 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FF View Post
It is nice to have a batt set that is difficult to destroy by removing too much juice.

BUT the real need is for a batt set that can hold as much energy as a gallon of fuel, at the same weight.

About 120 years now of battery tech, still not here.
Too true.
About this comes to mind the concept of a flow battery. Having a flowing rechargeable or replaceable electrolyte.

Might as well just purse a liquid fuel cell, like a SOFC which now exists one powered by gasoline at 3 times the efficiency of a gasoline engine. It works by vaporizing the fuel to gas and converting gas directly into electricity.

Only other technology than that coming to mind is nuclear power. Basically something that gets real hot converting water into steam power. And it can run for decades and be small sized. Too bad they can not make something that would be secure from terrorists cutting open to make a dirty bomb. The capability exists today to have a fridge sized nuclear plant that could run a neighborhood of homes, so easily a boat for decades without refueling.

Maybe a baseball sized reactor passively cooled, so no melt down risk possible is in a future world.

http://www.gizmag.com/small-modular-...eactors/20860/
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articl...n-power-market
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Old 05-21-2016, 10:48 AM   #14
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At $486 ea for a grp 31, I'm going to wait to see how these hold up over time. I'm due for two new 31's as mine are now tired, five or so years old and I abuse them. I'll probably just go flooded again. But I'll be watching these.

For all the testing and testimonials, there is little replacement to actual years of service experience. Some things don't last that well once the years rack up.
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Old 05-21-2016, 11:17 AM   #15
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At $486 ea for a grp 31, I'm going to wait to see how these hold up over time. I'm due for two new 31's as mine are now tired, five or so years old and I abuse them. I'll probably just go flooded again. But I'll be watching these.

For all the testing and testimonials, there is little replacement to actual years of service experience. Some things don't last that well once the years rack up.
That's the problem with anything relatively new to the market. We don't know two years until many have had them for two. We won't know five years until three years later. All the testing and labs in the world don't provide us what we need from real world experiences. I'll keep following it though. Fortunately his batteries aren't much different than ours in age so we can just watch. If his is still going when ours die, then it has our attention. Still I'd need to see more experiences than just his. Still I appreciate him sharing and we will follow closely.
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Old 05-21-2016, 01:06 PM   #16
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I've mentioned it before, but I really like Darren's videos. There have been several that I have found helpful, and all are interesting. Keep it up!

My house batteries won't last too much longer I imagine. They are Chinese sealed LA batteries that came with the boat. The engine start and genset start batteries have had to be replaced already. When the time comes, those carbon foam batteries will be a contender given their ability to be deeply discharged. The other option will be a bunch of cheap golf cart batteries with a fill system. As others have noted, time will tell on the carbon foam.
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Old 05-21-2016, 01:18 PM   #17
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I go completely the other way on batteries and boats.
I buy them used as standard car batteries, but I do pick good ones typically less than a year old, and with at least 800 CCA. They cost me $40. I get at least 5 years from them. I use them till they self destruct, loose a cell or can no longer hold a charge. Advance Auto here sells good used batteries.

My philosophy changed after buying expensive 8D marine batteries and after 3 years seeing them gone bad.
I have a generator, I can charge batteries, I don't need huge deep discharge batteries, I can isolated all batteries keeping some in reserve. My gen has an isolated battery. I have 4 batteries total, I only need one to start any engine. I dont need to drain batteries down till they are dead, which even if marine deep discharge design, I figure that wears them out sooner..

I have one battery in one bank as a dedicated starter battery for 2 engines.
I have 2 batteries I use for house batteries in a second bank.
I can isolate-combine those 3 batteries.

Lastly, I have one dedicated gen start battery separated completely from the other 3.
I have space in my battery tray for a fourth battery to combine into the other 3, but why bother.

I also have a 3000 watt inverter and a UPS inverter for the PC. I get by ok.

If I traveled around the world, then better batteries would be good idea, but I don't. Anywhere in the USA, a good battery is easy to get.
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Old 05-21-2016, 01:58 PM   #18
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I go completely the other way on batteries and boats.
I buy them used as standard car batteries, but I do pick good ones typically less than a year old, and with at least 800 CCA. They cost me $40. I get at least 5 years from them. I use them till they self destruct, loose a cell or can no longer hold a charge. Advance Auto here sells good used batteries.
Not a bad idea and it is certainly is working well for you.
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Old 05-21-2016, 02:11 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by sdowney717 View Post
I go completely the other way on batteries and boats.
I buy them used as standard car batteries, but I do pick good ones typically less than a year old, and with at least 800 CCA. They cost me $40. I get at least 5 years from them. I use them till they self destruct, loose a cell or can no longer hold a charge. Advance Auto here sells good used batteries.

My philosophy changed after buying expensive 8D marine batteries and after 3 years seeing them gone bad.
I have a generator, I can charge batteries, I don't need huge deep discharge batteries, I can isolated all batteries keeping some in reserve. My gen has an isolated battery. I have 4 batteries total, I only need one to start any engine. I dont need to drain batteries down till they are dead, which even if marine deep discharge design, I figure that wears them out sooner..

I have one battery in one bank as a dedicated starter battery for 2 engines.
I have 2 batteries I use for house batteries in a second bank.
I can isolate-combine those 3 batteries.

Lastly, I have one dedicated gen start battery separated completely from the other 3.
I have space in my battery tray for a fourth battery to combine into the other 3, but why bother.

I also have a 3000 watt inverter and a UPS inverter for the PC. I get by ok.

If I traveled around the world, then better batteries would be good idea, but I don't. Anywhere in the USA, a good battery is easy to get.
You GO! sd!!
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Old 05-21-2016, 02:26 PM   #20
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I too do a bit of battery "recycling"!! My thruster batt needs to be pretty hot for good action. When it gets weak, it goes in my pickup truck and get a new one for thruster. Truck batt then goes into the Kubota hurricane genset. By that time gennie batt is pretty weak, and that is the easiest beast to start in my fleet. Each batt I buy gets used three times!!

I do sort of the same with boat house and start batts, when too weak for the purpose, they go to the next easiest thing to start. Last time I replaced those, they had bad cells so they were done.
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