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True Blue Power introduces lithium-ion aircraft batteries at NBAA show

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, at 3:12 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, at 7:04 a.m.

When it comes to airplanes, the lighter the better.

That’s one advantage True Blue Power, a division of Mid-Continent Instruments, gives to two new products — lithium-ion main aircraft batteries for business and general aviation airplanes.

The company introduced the batteries this week at the National Business Aviation Association exhibition in Las Vegas.

The TB44 lithium-ion main battery weighs 53 pounds, a 40 percent weight savings compared with lead-acid or nickel-cadmium batteries.

The TB44 is expected to be standard equipment on a soon-to-be-announced production aircraft, the company said.

A second lithium-ion battery called the TB17 weighs 16 pounds, 46 percent less than the lead-acid alternatives.

“We have done a tremendous amount of testing and a tremendous amount of research,” said Todd Winter, president and CEO of True Blue Power in Wichita. “We’ve been working on them for a long time.”

Both are designed to monitor and communicate temperature, voltage levels, state of charge and health, the company said.

They have superior power, consistent performance, higher levels of energy output and longer useful life, it said. The two products will become part of a family of lithium-ion “main ship” batteries,” Winter said.

The batteries are not aftermarket products but are being marketed directly to aircraft manufacturers.

“We have target customers that we’re engaged with who want to use these packs,” Winter said.

The company plans to offer a series of 16 safety seminars to educate customers because there is some misinformation about lithium ion out there, company representatives said. They will discuss the safety and utilization of lithium-ion battery technology in aviation.

The first seminar will be next month at the Aircraft Electronics Association Central Regional Meeting in Kansas City, Mo.

“Facts are our friends,” said Rick Slater, division manager of True Blue Power. “Not all lithium chemistries are created equal.”

Nanophosphate lithium-ion technology has advantages over other lithium-ion chemistries, but the most significant advantage is safety, Slater said. The Nanophosphate lithium-ion is more chemically stable and produces less energetic reactions in the rare event of battery “over-temperature or over-voltage,” he said.

The two batteries are also engineered with several layers of protection.

“They’re smart packs,” Slater said. “Safety is addressed at multiple levels including the chemistry, cell design, pack and battery system packaging, and the integration of sophisticated electronic protection systems into the batteries themselves.”

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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