Low Supply For Lithium Is Driving Up Prices

According to Bloomberg Markets, the supply of lithium to keep up with demand is struggling. In an article authored by Laura Milan Lombrana and Johnathan Gilbert, lithium mines are having difficulties getting the raw materials out. Extracting the minerals from areas such as South America are proving to be more difficult than expected, and the result is a change in the market that is driving up prices. “The uncertainty on the supply side is driving prices up and making investors nervous,” said Daniela Desormeaux, CEO of Santiago-based lithium consulting firm SignumBOX. “We need a new project entering the market every year to satisfy growing demand. If that doesn’t happen, the market will be tight.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Australia is the largest lithium producer, with Chile and Argentina accounting for 67 percent of global reserves. In one example, Orocobre Ltd., an Australia based company mining in South America, forecasted it would produce 15,000 metric tons for the year through June but ended up at 11,862 tons. The discrepancy was attributed to additional disruptions from bad pumps and bad weather that have slowed production.

The Bloomberg article goes on to say that expansions by established producers, including China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp. and North Carolina’s Albemarle Corp. will more than likely leave a small global surplus by year end, but supply disruptions could put the market back into deficit, CRU’s Fuentes said. If annual demand for Tesla’s Model 3 reaches 700,000 units, as Musk says could happen, the industry will need additional supplies from lithium newcomers. Click Here for the full story on BloombergMarkets.com.

Is Your Floor Cleaning Machine Undercharged?

Ninety percent of the problems maintenance crews have with their battery powered floor cleaning machines, is that they run out of power before they have time to finish the job. This is due to improper charging, where the batteries are not given enough time to reach full capacity and are starting the work day in an undercharged condition. If this is a constant problem, it can eventually lead to batteries that go bad before they need to, and this can be a costly addition to battery replacement costs.

There’s an easy way to find out the battery’s state-of-charge (SOC) with a simple hydrometer.  First, make sure your floor cleaning machine is equipped with the correct deep-cycle batteries for that application. Using the hydrometer requires gloves, safety glasses and should be done in a well-ventilated area. Measuring the SOC of each battery cell and comparing hydrometer specific gravity readings to the specifications found on the battery manufacturer’s website, you’ll be able to determine if the battery is charged or undercharged. If it’s undercharged it’s imperative to give the batteries additional charging times. If the cleaning machines are always in use, try to find times to give them additional charge time during lunch breaks, or when workers may not be using the machines. This will ultimately extend battery life and increase the run times of the machines and add to productivity.

If, however, the batteries are charged for a long period of time and never seem to become fully charged, it can be an indication of other problems in the battery, or with your charger’s algorithms. Check with the battery manufacturer is these problems persist. For more information and tips to improve battery maintenance visit www.usbattery.com.

Checking Electrolyte Levels On Deep Cycle Batteries

Deep Cycle batteries are designed to be constantly charged and discharged to provide optimum power. The result from this constant “cycling” is that some of the electrolyte evaporates, and over time, the electrolyte levels in the battery drops.

To maintain battery performance and reliability, it’s very important to check the water levels in the battery on a monthly basis. To do this, wear eye protection and gloves before removing the vent caps on the batteries. Check with the battery manufacturer to see how to remove the vent caps, (they usually pull or twist off). Start with one cell at a time.

Get a small flashlight and look into the vent. You will see the cell plates in the electrolyte. The level of the electrolyte should be enough so that the cell plates are submerged. Some battery manufacturers recommend the water level be 1/4 inch below the fill well. That’s approximately enough to cover the battery plates, but not enough to touch the bottom of the vent. For more information on deep-cycle battery maintenance and tips on how to improve battery performance and life, visit www.usbattery.com