Saft has won two major contracts to supply primary lithium batteries for domestic smart meter projects. In its first ever smart gas meter contract in China, Saft will supply around 500,000 Li-SOCl2 cells over the next four years to one of the country’s top five smart gas meter OEMs and around 500,000 Li-SOCl2cells to the leading water meter OEM in China over the next six months.
The two orders represent an important breakthrough for Saft in the Chinese market, which is the world’s largest metering market. Recent reforms are fostering the introduction of AMR (automated meter reading) and smart meters. China’s total demand for smart gas meters is estimated at 40-50 million units between 2011 and 2015, it is also estimated that shipment of smart water meters will reach more than 10 million units in 2015.
The Saft lithium cells will provide the smart meters with a reliable, maintenance free, ‘fit and forget’ source of autonomous power over a minimum 12-year plus service life. The gas meters, destined for projects in Hangzhou and Shenzhen, will be fitted with either A-size Li-SOCl2 cells or C-size Li-SOCl2 cells. The water meters will be fitted with AA-size Li-SOCl2 cells.
Saft has used field and laboratory data collected over more than 30 years to develop a unique life-time model that enables the expected life of primary cells in this demanding application to be predicted accurately by considering the specific utilization profile. Data used by this model includes base current, pulse currents, cut-off voltage and temperature range. Calculated results are combined with results from bench tests, which sometime require years to conduct, to produce the most accurate life prediction.
Saft Li-SOCl2 cylindrical cells offer a nominal 3.6 V, feature a bobbin construction and are high-pulse optimized and UL (Underwriters Laboratories) recognized. The cells are non-pressurized at room temperature, feature a non-flammable electrolyte, corrosion-proof hermetically sealed stainless steel containers and incorporate safety vents and fuses. Furthermore, Saft Li-SOCl2 cells have a low self-discharge rate, less than one percent after one year of storage at 20°C, and demonstrated their reliable performances over long lifetime.