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Lead acid and lithium-ion battery, who is better suited to do forklift battery?

2019-10-23

In 2015, the first lithium-ion battery pack for industrial forklifts was launched. Surprisingly, just six months ago, the industry journal Material Handling and Logistics reported that lithium-ion batteries "do not apply to forklifts" because "forklift applications may have different requirements." For example, voltages below or peak currents are higher than existing power applications. "

The truck that ultimately brought the predictions of lithium-ion enthusiasts to life is an ordinary machine. Considering the weight requirements of a seat-balanced heavy forklift, only portable intercom forklifts can use lithium-ion power supplies. Nevertheless, history has been made.

However, a year after the heavy bomb dropped, lithium-ion batteries have yet to surpass the lead-acid batteries of the past. There are several reasons. First, let's examine the benefits of lithium-ion batteries over conventional forklift batteries:

1.     Lithium-ion batteries last up to five times longer than lead-acid batteries, according to industry publication DC Velocity. However, lithium-ion batteries have a five-year warranty, which is similar to most warranties for modern lead-acid batteries. This makes the difference in longevity questionable.

2.     Even the most sophisticated lead-acid batteries require a cooling interval between charging and use. Lithium-ion battery packs are immediately available for immediate use.

3.     Similarly, lithium-ion batteries do not require a balanced charge. They are free of water or acids and therefore have little need for maintenance.

4.     Essentially, lithium-ion batteries are attractive and they are essential for personal electronic devices because of the combination of extreme light weight and high energy density. However, the forklift market has different requirements than laptops, phones and tablets that benefit from lithium-ion batteries.

These benefits are undoubtedly tempting. However, lead batteries continue to dominate the electric forklift market and are likely to dominate in the coming years for a reason. A report frequently cited by Navigant Research's Lisa Jerram predicts that conventional lead-acid batteries for forklifts will dominate at least until 2020, and that this is likely to continue beyond Jerram's research.

The reasons are as follows:

1.     The electric balanced heavy forklift and lead-acid forklift battery grow together. They are sister technology. Contemporary lifting car design sits on the weight of conventional batteries to provide balance to the load. No manufacturer can propose a more efficient combination of power and basic balance than lead-acid batteries.

2.     The cost of lithium-ion batteries is still high. In 2015, DC Velocity cited industry estimates of cost variances: the price of the lithium-ion battery was "four to five times the cost of lead-acid in watts per hour," the report said.

3.     Lithium is a limited resource. It can only be found in some remote parts of the world. Lithium is not in short supply today, but future supply could be a problem if every lead-acid battery is replaced by lithium-ion batteries. In contrast, most components in lead-acid batteries are recovered from existing resources.

4.     Manufacturers have little chance of allowing the kind of fire and explosion that plagues cheaper lithium-ion batteries. Still, the need for thermal out-of-control control continues to increase the price of batteries, and potential shutdown protections may affect battery use.

5.     At the same time, lead-acid battery technology is also constantly improving. Battery processing devices can significantly reduce the costs associated with conventional forklift batteries, making them more affordable, durable and efficient than lithium-ion batteries or hydrogen fuel cells.

Lead-acid batteries continue to evolve along with competitive technologies. As long as forklift manufacturers adhere to traditional designs, the next generation of high-efficiency, environmentally friendly lead-acid batteries will remain the most common source of power for electric forklifts.


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