[what's new in:] Batteries

April 1, 2011
Fleet managers are being challenged by an alphabet soup of battery requirements like at no other time in history

Fleet managers are being challenged by an alphabet soup of battery requirements like at no other time in history. There are batteries for any number of onboard systems, but regardless of what is powered, longevity and cost must be factored into the buying decision.

“[Our heavy-duty] customers are asking for more power from their batteries to operate the increasing number of electrical/electronic components for comfort and enjoyment,” says Greg Shull, marketing manager for Interstate Batteries. “They also require a battery that will sustain these loads repetitively. Each time the battery is discharged to provide these loads is considered a discharge cycle, so they need a battery to provide hundreds of cycles while continuing to start their truck.”

Interstate has taken these needs into consideration when designing products. “We have designed our 31-ECL (extreme cycle life) and 31-MHD to exceed the TMC high-cycle performance standards,” Shull points out. “The TMC high-cycle standard is 300 cycles, and our ECL performs to more than 500 cycles.”


Brad Bisaillon, North American sales & marketing manager for Trojan Battery Co., sees change being driven by the technological complexity of today's vehicles.

“Two areas driving change in battery technology include additional onboard ECMs (electronic control modules) integrated into new truck designs required for DPF and SCR or EGR control systems, and the expansion of anti-idling laws across the nation,” he says. “Heavy truck manufacturers are adding more and more advanced processes within a truck's design, therefore additional ECMs are necessary to monitor various truck operations and emissions controls.”

In response to heavier demands, some fleets have gone to AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries made of very fine fiber boron-silicate glass between the plates. These batteries won't leak acid upon breaking, and can take more abuse than gelled batteries, but they also need special charging applications.

“With the various battery technologies available in today's marketplace, batteries have become ‘application-specific.’ [For example], there are significant differences in the construction and performance characteristics that distinguish a common starting and dual-purpose AGM battery from a true deep-cycling AGM battery,” Bisaillon explains.

Trojan Battery offers two application-specific Group 31 AGM batteries to meet the diverse needs of the heavy-duty trucking market. The TransPower ST1000 is an AGM 31 heavy-duty starting battery that provides cranking power of 1,000 CCA. The battery is constructed using a thicker plate design with high-density paste and a thick wire grid design to “deliver nearly double the battery life of a standard flooded starting battery,” Bisaillon says, adding that it comes with a 36-month full replacement warranty.

Using a liftgate or running an electric APU can use up to 80% of a battery's capacity. To stand up to this, “the Trojan OverDrive AGM 31 is designed with a plate construction thicker than that used in a starting and dual-purpose battery,” he adds. “The thicker section of active materials makes the plate more resistant to the stresses encountered during deep discharge cycling.”

Allan Hillyer, director of heavy-duty on-road segment for Exide Technologies, says his company's customers are asking how batteries can provide longer lasting power. To meet these needs, Exide offers a full line of heavy-duty batteries for Class 8 trucks ranging from conventional power, high-CCA starting types to flooded high cycling, and premium AGM batteries.

“In our flooded line, we introduced the Extreme Cycler 200, which provides a 50% improvement in cycling performance and three times better vibration protection versus a conventionally built battery,” he points out. “Our Roadforce AGM 200 provides a 200% improvement in cycling, 14 times better vibration protection, 40% greater charge acceptance, and 60% longer shelf life versus a conventionally built product.”

Odyssey batteries, manufactured by EnerSys, are designed to provide high cranking power and deep cycle reserve power. The flat plates of the batteries are made with lead alloy. The company says this allows the plates to be made thinner, thereby fitting more of them in the battery.

The batteries are said to be capable of providing engine cranking pulses in excess of 2,250 amps for five seconds, double to triple that of equally sized conventional batteries.

Welded intercell connections enable the battery to withstand extreme vibration and the AGM design holds acid in place to prevent spills, even when installed on its side. Odyssey said its batteries have an eight- to twelve-year design life and a three- to ten-year service life.


Exide Technologies

Interstate Battery Systems of America

Trojan Battery Co.

Delphi Corp.

KBI/Kold-Ban International

Odyssey Batteries

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