Battery designs and technological innovations are geared towards highly cyclic, quick recharge batteries and those that sustain higher temperatures in order to cater to ever changing customer needs
By Richa Chakravarty
Wednesday, October 10, 2012: The power and energy sector is booming in India, and the battery domain has leveraged the maximum benefit from this scenario. Owing to the growth in industries like telecom, railways, banks, insurance, textiles, food, small scale industries, data centres, pharmaceuticals, etc, there has been a huge demand for industrial batteries. Environmental concerns, leading to a major shut down of battery companies in China, have indirectly aided Indian companies. The renewable energy segment is another area offering good potential for batteries. Hence, to cater to such vast industry demands, manufacturers are offering batteries with advanced technology that are green, clean and also meet consumer specifications.
What’s in demand
Industrial batteries are classified on the basis of their chemical composition—lead acid, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride and lithium ion. Sealed acid varieties can be further divided into two major categories—flooded and sealed. Flooded batteries are further subdivided into automobile batteries, tubular batteries, traction batteries, etc. Sealed batteries are sub-classified as absorbed glass mat (AGM) and gel, based on the carrier used to store the acid. Sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries are also divided into deep discharge, high rate discharge and electric vehicle (EV) batteries, based on the intended use for which the battery’s material and design is fine tuned to.
While lead acid batteries are the conventional variety, their advantage is that they can withstand extreme temperatures. In India, with severe weather conditions and the perennial power crisis, these batteries are very much in demand. The advanced technology of these batteries enables them to give good power backup.
In deep cycle batteries, the percentage of tin used with lead calcium is increased to make
deep plates. These batteries are designed to work at 25°C internationally, but in India, these batteries can work in temperatures as high as 45°C.
However, with the environmental concerns regarding the use of lead in batteries, new standards have been established to ensure cleaner production. Also, the lead and plastic from used batteries are being recycled for reuse in the manufacture of new batteries. Lead acid batteries are, therefore, environmentally safe from the point of view of industrial waste.
The advances in technology have resulted in consumers being offered batteries that require minimal maintenance. Sealed maintenance free VRLA batteries comply with the expectations of those customers who need to install batteries that require minimal or no maintenance, while being clean. Ranging from a capacity of 12 V, 7 Ah to 200 Ah, these batteries are largely used in telecommunications and in the large UPS systems installed in industries.
AGM is an advanced technology used in SMF batteries. It has a relatively high discharge rate, a limited cycle life and is the cheapest of the VRLA range to manufacture. It is, therefore, the most commonly used VRLA battery type. One of the biggest advantages of this battery is that once filled with acid, it is permanently sealed and there is no need to top it with water.
Another technology in demand is the flat gel plate. These batteries are the same as the AGM type but with the electrolyte immobilised in a silica based gel. This helps to improve the temperature withstanding capability of the battery, and is therefore, considered to be more robust.
The biggest advantage of these batteries is that they not only offer high quality and stability but they are leak proof, offer a high discharge rate, come in compact designs and are maintenance free.
While VRLA batteries are widely used, tubular batteries are better suited for the Indian market. Base Corporation, with its expertise in industrial batteries with the design, offers a five year guarantee on its VRLA batteries. It uses the pressure dye casting (PDC) process to manufacture the spines of tubular batteries. With PDC, lead is blown into the mould at 100 bar pressure resulting in no air bubbles throughout the plates, and makes it consistent and robust enough to endure deep cycle efficiency, while having the maximum lifecycle, even when used in the highest temperatures. These batteries can be customised by altering the thickness of the spine and their tube size, based on the overall life required for the battery. Also, a lot of customisation can be done with its depth of discharge.
The life of the battery is another area on which manufacturers are currently focused. The number of cycles determines the life of a battery. Manufacturers like Artheon provide a life of 1300 cycles with 20 per cent depth of discharge (DOD), which is close to four years. The company manufactures all kinds of SMF VRLA batteries in 2, 6 and 12 V. In 12 V, it offers a range from 7.2 Ah to 200 Ah. In 2 V, it offers a range from 200 Ah to 3000 Ah
banks. In the front terminal (FT) range, it has developed 12 V-100 Ah, which comes with front access to the terminals. In partnership with North Star of USA, Artheon offers batteries with thin plate pure lead technology, which charge very fast due to the large surface area of plates and have a very high cycle life. Artheon’s North Star Blue battery works very well in partial state of charge (PSOC) conditions. Although these batteries may never get charged fully due to the intermittent power, their output is excellent. These batteries are ideal for telecom companies as they get charged very fast.
Keeping weather conditions in mind, manufacturers are offering batteries as per the tropical climate. Heat is considered as the biggest killer of a battery, as it dries up the electrolyte in the battery and also fastens up self discharge. To withstand such high temperatures, Fusion Power Systems under its brand name Amptek, offers a wide range of SMF-VRLA batteries with special additives added to the battery plates and the electrolyte so that the batteries perform well in extreme heat conditions.
All Relicell batteries are backed by a 13 month warranty. Using advanced AGM VRLA technology and highly pure material, Relicell from Greenvision Technologies offers UPS batteries that are completely maintenance free. These have a long float and cyclic life span, high specific energy and a low self-discharge rate. They come in capacities ranging from 12 V 7 Ah to 200 Ah, are completely leak proof, have excellent anti-corrosion properties, and perform flawlessly in varying temperature conditions, according to the company. They have a design life from five to 15 years, depending on the model.
Focusing specially on the solar segment, HBL offers tubular low-maintenance lead acid batteries called Taurus. These batteries not only conform to quality and environmental standards but also deliver good performance. They offer high
reliability with low maintenance costs, a long cycle life with low lifecycle costs and give high power at a low rate of discharge. Hence, these are suitable for deep discharge applications and are ideal for high temperature applications, claims the company. To meet rigorous usage needs, HBL also offers tubular gel VRLA batteries with a combination of a tubular plate and gelled electrolyte, which is a perfect fit for telecom, solar and railway applications, where the application demands are high.
Amara Raja’s Amaron Volt is a high performance battery designed to meet the demands of a wide range of industrial applications. It is modular in structure and is capable of accommodating a wide spectrum of capacities, depending on the application. With quick recharge, it offers a design float life of 20+ years, which incorporates the time tested and high end
VRLA technology for telecom networks. It also offers deep discharge.
With a sleek and compact design, the Amaron Sleek offers high volumetric energy density for maximum power with a minimal footprint. Designed to perform under harsh tropical conditions, it comes with a design float life of 12+ years and can easily be accommodated in a standard 58.42 cm (23 inch) rack.
Exide offers a complete range of lead acid batteries with automatic water filling of 2 V tubular batteries. This automatic water filling system is an intelligent and efficient alternative, where the replenishment of battery grade water is done automatically without manual intervention. Added to this are other benefits like low initial charging, improved safety,
corrosion resistance, improved insulation and minimum electricity consumption, to name a few. They are available in ranges from 80 Ah to 1200 Ah, and are ideal for material handling in the industrial sector. Exide has steadily developed the technology to power electric vehicles as well as water vessels driven by battery power. Its special power packs are considerably lighter and can be recharged faster than conventional batteries.
How to choose the right battery
It is important to choose the right battery for the right application. This ensures that the battery functions properly and lasts long.
The life of a battery depends on various factors including temperature, overcharging, impure topping of water and excessive cycling. Hence, it is important to look at all these aspects when making a purchase decision.
Check the ambient temperature conditions for the battery. It should have the proper capability to measure temperatures. The SMF VRLA battery is designed to work at 25°C, so its capacity would change as per temperature conditions. So while installing, the sizing of the battery is very important.
Next, check the brand and its track record for quality and the infrastructure that’s provided by the company for sales and support activities. This is critical in the long term.
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