What's new in: Batteries

Electrical loads are placing large demands on batteries

Commercial vehicle battery needs continue to evolve, notes Todd Biggs, director of aftermarket parts and service marketing for Daimler Trucks North America, supplier of the Alliance Truck Parts line of batteries. “In today’s trucks, batteries are obviously still used for cold cranking power,” he says. “However, deeper discharge capabilities and cycling characteristics are also needed to operate a growing array of onboard auxiliary equipment.”

The expanding number of electronic accessories and systems on vehicles can have a big impact on batteries, relates Maria Orlando-Krick, marketing manager of Specialty Markets at EnerSys, maker of Odyssey batteries. “The small currents that truck batteries have to deliver continuously have a large effect,” she says.

“The cumulative amp-hours extracted from a battery can be significant,” Orlando-Krick explains further. “For example, if the engine is inactive for a long enough time, parasitic loads will drain the battery to discharge. At that point they are unable to maintain a voltage that is high enough for proper operation of electronic equipment, and the battery will not be able to provide enough power to turn over the engine.”

Another demand on today’s battery technology is the growing number of idling restrictions across the country that further increase power demands on truck accessories.

According to Exide, batteries with better cycling and greater charge acceptance are needed.

POWER TIMES TWO These needs have led truck battery manufacturers to develop absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries that offer both cranking power and deep cycle reserve power. AGM technology was used originally in military aircraft because of its reliability and resistance to vibration. Manufacturers point out those attributes, and the ability to provide power even at very low temperatures, make the technology a perfect fit for commercial vehicles.

Johnson Controls says there are attributes of the design and construction of AGM batteries that go beyond starting and deep cycle performance. In commercial truck operation, according to the company, AGM batteries can incorporate features to extend battery life in tough applications, such as reducing corrosion. In addition, there are no restrictions on mounting the batteries, giving vehicle OEMs added design flexibility.

Interstate Batteries also focuses on offering deep cycling, faster recharging and stronger starting products. “New AGM batteries can accept and produce a tremendous amount of current very quickly, reducing the battery’s charge time,” says Gale Kimbrough, technical services manager. “Additionally, extreme cold and heat challenge a battery’s ability to perform, and new AGM batteries with temperature-resistant properties rise to this challenge.”

The company is now rolling out its new 810 CCA 31-AGM7 battery for trucks. Featuring the company’s Pure Matrix Power solution, the battery utilizes a combination of pure non-alloy lead and an extra-thin plate design.

Johnson Controls, which just debuted a new Eveready-branded truck battery, says its Group 31 dual-purpose AGM provides both starting and deep cycle performance for commercial trucks. The battery is rated at 825 CCA.

Exide’s latest offering is the RoadForce AGM 200 battery for trucks, which is available in either 925 or 700 CCA ratings. In addition, the manufacturer says the RoadForce has two times better cycling and 40% greater charge acceptance compared to conventional battery designs.

EnerSys has rebranded its line as the Odyssey Extreme Series to differentiate between existing products and new batteries that offer cranking and deep cycle reserve power. For fleets, the 31-PC2150 model is available with a 1,150 CCA rating.

Alliance Truck Parts makes available a dual-purpose AGM deep cycle battery designed for day cab, sleeper and vocational truck applications. The battery is rated 925 CCA (at 0 deg. F). Trojan Battery’s OverDrive AGM 31 is a 730 CCA heavy-duty battery that the company says is designed to provide ample cranking power and meet higher and growing hotel load needs.

“There is increasing acceptance of AGM battery technology,” says Patrick Russell, North American sales manager for fleet, rental & OE APU at Trojan Battery. “Fleets are realizing that while the upfront cost may be higher, an AGM battery can provide a broad range of advantages over conventional technologies such as longer life, more run time and less maintenance.”

All-makes AGM batteries from TRP Parts include tightly packaged separators that resist vibration for improved cycle life. Fiberglass strands embedded into the plate surfaces lock active materials to the plates, improving cycling and leading to longer battery life, the company says.

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