Lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery packs are “revolutionising” the market for electric industrial equipment, such as forklift trucks and cherry pickers in construction, says industrial lithium-ion battery distributor CHASE Technologies GM Brent Frazer.
Although the LiFePO4 batteries may eventually fall below the efficient operating nominal capacity of 65%, they can still be used in lighter-duty applications or retained as storage batteries; this adds value long after the astounding five-year warranty has expired, he explains.
Further, the LiFePO4 batteries are sealed units that do not require topping up with electrolytes, periodic acid adjustment, equalisation charge or cooling periods.
The batteries are produced without cadmium, lead or mercury, which reduces heavy metal pollution and makes the batteries environment-friendly.
The energy density of LiFePO4 batteries is about 140 Wh/kg, or three times that of lead-acid batteries.
“LiFePO4 is only about 33% of the volume and 25% of the weight of lead-acid batteries. “This means much higher-capacity batteries can be used in the same compartment, with greater configuration flexibility,” adds Frazer.
He points out that a LiFePO4 battery-powered vehicle can travel 1.35 times longer or further than the same vehicle fitted with a similar-capacity lead-acid battery.
Further, the real life span of a LiFePO4 battery is longer than five years. The longer life span results in their not having to be recycled as often as lead-acid batteries.
“The high-power energy cells offer a major total cost of ownership advantage over traditional lead-acid batteries. The increased capacity translates into improved warehouse efficiency and handling capacity, while rapid charging and zero maintenance guarantees continuous operation,” he notes.
Frazer highlights that, when LiFePO4 batteries are being used on site, the quick-charge function allows for a battery that is fully powered for longer.
CHASE Technologies is presently finalising solar linked energy standby systems which can be used to supply power to the charge of the battery and, if required, other equipment on site. This means that the energy cost of operating the equipment will be zero.
“This helps in respect of any possible load-shedding that may happen on site, as well as cost reductions,”he adds.
As part of its marketing plan to further drive the adoption of lithium-ion batteries used in capital equipment, CHASE Technologies will focus on educating the market on the benefits of the LiFePO4 technology, Frazer concludes.