Innovations in Lead Acid Batteries Make Them More Beneficial in Forklift Applications

EnerSys, an International company with facilities in Reading, Pennsylvania, Singapore, and

EnerSys' new NexSys® lead acid battery. (Courtesy: EnerSys)

EnerSys’ new NexSys® lead acid battery.
(Courtesy: EnerSys)

Zug, Switzerland, has made innovations to lead acid batteries that make them more beneficial in forklift applications.

The company is marketing a rechargeable lead acid battery called NexSys® that features an Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) that permits very high charge rates without damaging the battery.

According to the company, traditional lead acid batteries will commonly be charged at 16% to 25% charge rates and up to 50% in a fast charge application. The NexSys® TPPL battery can be charged at up to 100% charge rates. As a result, the benefits of charging at these high rates eliminate the need for battery changing even in some three-shift applications.

This means that for heavy-duty applications including forklifts, high rate opportunity charging, also known as fast charging, can eliminate the need to change batteries.

Opportunity charging and fast charging of industrial batteries has grown significantly, helping many customers to completely eliminate battery changing without the high costs and risks associated with new power source technologies. Opportunity charging is ideal for medium duty applications; users don’t need to purchase high-rate fast chargers and fast charge batteries to gain the benefits of eliminating battery changes, which helps to increase worker productivity.

The fact that a lead acid battery can be charged makes it unnecessary to store spare batteries and purchase battery changing equipment.

The innovation increases productivity because it offers constant power and eliminates battery degradation at the end of battery discharge. The vast majority of motors in lift trucks built over the past five years use Alternating Current (AC) motors rather than Direct Current (DC) motors. This eliminates the slow-down in vehicle performance when the battery voltages have decreased at the end of their charge.

Moreover, higher capacity is achieved after only 400 to 500 cycles. A reputable lead acid industrial battery designed for cycling applications such as industrial vehicles should maintain 80% of its rated capacity for more than 1200 cycles when discharge to 20% state of charge. In addition, most industrial battery warranties will cover the entire service life of the battery.

Batteries like the NexSys® eliminates the need for battery watering and other associated maintenance. Newer lead acid technologies have entered the market recently that can exceed the performance of flooded lead acid while not requiring periodic watering.

Finally, batteries like the NexSys® are environmentally friendly and offers improved sustainability than traditional lead acid batteries. Believe it or not, the Battery Council International has discovered in a study that more than 99% of all battery lead is recyclable compared to 55% of aluminum soft drink and beer cans, 45% of newspapers, 26% of glass bottles and 26% of tires. In fact, lead acid batteries top the list of the most highly recycled consumer product. This is true because the battery features a closed-loop life cycle. The typical new lead battery contains 60% to 80% recycled lead and plastic. When a spent battery is collected, it is sent to a certified recycler where, under strict environmental regulations, the lead and plastic are reclaimed and sent to a new battery manufacturer. This makes lead battery disposal extremely easy from an environmental and cost perspective. Some alternative power sources do not offer recycling as an option and may require a fee to properly dispose of the spent materials.

EnerSys is also involved in fuel cell and nickel-zinc battery research.

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