Battery Sorting, Training Key To Safe Recycling Efforts

Lithium-ion batteries have become part of our daily lives. They have proven useful for powering many of the electronics that we rely on, from cellphones and power tools to a growing number of electric vehicles. Their chemistry and construction, however, are not compatible with the process used to recycle lead-acid batteries. As a result, the Battery Council International (BCI) has growing concerns that more Lithium-ion batteries may be introduced into the lead-acid recycling ecosystem. The results of such contamination can result in explosion and fire that can cause injury to recycling center personnel and equipment. Lithium-ion batteries must be taken to a proper recycling location to be disposed of these facilities are not the same as lead battery recycling centers. Visit the BCI website to find out where to recycle lithium-ion batteries near you.

Properly Identifying Lead-Acid and Lithium-ion Batteries

Some of the best ways to tell the difference between a lithium-ion battery and a lead battery include:

1) Weight – Lead batteries typically weigh almost double that of a lithium battery of the same size.

2) Labeling – Lead batteries are labeled with the letters PB or have the word Lead Battery somewhere on the battery. Lithium-ion batteries have the letters Li or have the words lithium-ion somewhere on the battery case.

3) Terminal Styles – Most lead batteries have two protruding terminals with a light gray appearance. Lithium batteries may have a number of different styles of terminals.

If you’re still not sure what type of battery you have, you should remove the battery for closer inspection to find a label or other markings that may indicate the chemistry.

The BCI has created a toolkit that can be used by companies, to help employees identify and ensure that lead and lithium batteries are not recycled together.  The toolkit includes training videos, as well as a poster and flyer that can aid lead battery sorters and handlers with proper identification.

Video: https://youtu.be/4TPnUrENTRc

Selecting The Best 6-Volt Deep Cycle Battery For Floor Scrubber Machines

Cleaning companies that rely on deep-cycle batteries to power their floor scrubber machines worry when battery power fades before the job is done. Because deep-cycle six-volt batteries take several hours to fully charge, it can mean lost time and money whenever a floor scrubber is down.

This is why it’s extremely important to select the right deep-cycle battery with a run-time that matches the average length of time floor scrubber machines are on duty. To do this, it requires more than just comparing the ratings on the labels and finding the least expensive battery.

Getting optimum power for floor scrubbers, start by determining the correct size, voltage and ampere hour (AH) capacity required for your specific floor cleaning machine.  Compare this information to the battery manufacturer’s rating charts to determine which battery provides the proper voltage, AH capacity, and/or runtime that matches your application.  If you’re comparing batteries from different manufacturers, it’s important to carefully check the information to be sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples.

Battery cycle life ratings are often based on selective data from the manufacturer.  Typically, cycle life ratings are determined by the depth of discharge (DOD), which is the percentage of AH capacity discharged from the battery during each discharge.  As an example, a battery with an 80 percent DOD has only 20 percent of its capacity left. Most battery manufacturers recommend a 50 percent DOD for optimum cycle life vs runtime, but cycle life can be quoted at a wide variety of DOD ratings. This can result in what appears to show a longer cycle life for one battery type over another but may not be an accurate comparison. When comparing cycle life ratings, make sure they are rated using the same DOD.

Because test methods, temperatures, charging algorithms, and charging methods all affect cycle life, relying on printed ratings shouldn’t be your only point of reference. Generally speaking, less expensive batteries may have fewer or lighter internal components (lead plates and plate construction) and may have shorter cycle life in the same application due to greater DOD.  Batteries with more or heavier plates will typically have longer cycle life but will also cost more initially.

Putting this in perspective, a deep-cycle battery with a lower capacity might be a better choice for a company with a cleaning machine that is used occasionally, or for jobs that take less time.  Cleaning companies or rental fleets with cleaning machines that see heavy cycling, a deep-cycle higher capacity battery would benefit them by providing longer run times and lower DOD resulting in longer cycle life. One might be less expensive initially, while the other may last longer and need to be replaced less often, especially if the batteries also receive regular maintenance.

All that being said, when comparing battery brands and run-times to determine which one will be best, be sure to understand the differences between your application and standard test conditions.  Manufacturers test batteries in laboratory environments that are intended to simulate actual conditions encountered in a variety of applications.  These conditions may not perfectly duplicate those in your application, but by understanding the differences, the best comparison can be made.  If possible, take notes on usage patterns, charging practices, and battery maintenance frequency and compare with the battery manufacturers’ recommendations.  Ultimately you may find that one brand stands out from the others and offers you the best performance-per-dollar for your application.

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Making Your Golf Cart Batteries Last Longer

Nobody likes having to replace a set of 6-volt or 8-volt golf cart batteries every few years, especially if you think you’ve maintained them by frequently charging and watering. So what went wrong? There’s more to making your batteries last longer than simple routine maintenance. According to Fred Wehmeyer, Senior Vice President/Engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing, there are three key factors that maximize battery life.

The first is starting with a better battery. If you’ve always shopped for the less expensive battery, you’re sacrificing capacity and extended operation. Premium batteries cost a little more initially, but simply put, they have more lead plates and better internal construction. This is one of the major factors in battery longevity and with the benefit of greater capacity for longer run times between charging.

A better battery will also help with the second factor towards extending battery life, which is the amount of discharge placed on the batteries. Battery manufacturers recommend limiting the discharge rate to 50-percent for optimum battery cycle life. A 50-percent Depth Of Discharge (DOD), can be determined by first applying a full charge to the batteries, and the run time increases, regularly check the state of charge with a simple hydrometer. Battery manufactures typically have a specific gravity chart that shows what the hydrometer will read at full charge, and also identify when it reaches various percentages of discharge. Periodically checking the hydrometer readings will give you a good idea how much run-time the batteries can operate before reaching 50-percent discharge. Charging the batteries at this level, or before 50-percent DOD, will greatly promote longer service life.

The third factor is one you’re probably already doing, proper maintenance. This includes checking water levels and topping off each cell to the battery manufacturer’s recommended levels as needed. It also includes visual inspections that require looking for clean terminals and wiring, then making repairs as necessary. Performing regular equalization charges at least once per month is also an important part of a proper maintenance routine that can prevent stratification and shorten battery life.

Does this really work? The best examples come from new and used golf car dealers who are seeing the benefits of providing training for their customers on these important factors, as well as proper maintenance procedures. Many report that they have had customers get an average of five to seven years out of their batteries, which can dramatically reduce the cost of owning and operating a battery powered golf car over the long haul. For more information on battery maintenance and selecting the right battery for a variety of applications, visit www.usbattery.com.

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Renewable Energy Pushes For Deep Cycle Battery Storage in Large Scale

Attending a roundtable forum on energy storage, Kevin Moran, Executive VP at Battery Council International, says he realized the discussions on large-scale battery storage will be a necessity for areas in the U.S. that are embracing and expanding their use of renewable energy sources. “The potential for an expansion in grid-scale battery storage installations may be even greater that I had previously thought,” said Moran in an article in Batteries International Magazine.  “Several states have either passed, or are considering setting targets for [energy] storage.” 

Moran pointed out that California recently passed a mandate that 100 percent of its electricity must come from renewable sources by 2045. “It’s hard to believe they can meet this goal without a massive investment in battery storage,” said Moran. 

His views on energy storage for the future points to progress made on the battery storage front over the next several years, and that different battery chemistries will be competing with ways on how their products will meet the demands for energy storage in the future.

Large scale battery storage has been used in a variety of industrial applications utilizing specialized batteries designed for this purpose. Dutt Electronics, in Spain for example, utilized U.S. Battery RE series batteries in an autonomous system to balance the power output between stored energy consumption and battery charging during peak energy hours. While systems like these have proven to work in an industrial scale, they can also provide a solution to the growing need for energy storage and distribution in a larger scale.

Additionally, energy storage grids utilizing deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries for storage also offer an environmental advantage, according to the BCI, as these types of batteries are nearly 100-percent recyclable in a closed-loop system that offers zero impact on landfills.