Equipment Spotlight: Truck batteries becoming smaller, lighter, tougher, smarter

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Updated Apr 16, 2015

For all of our dependence on truck batteries in commercial applications, they largely are forgotten or ignored – until they fail. That’s why most of the slowly evolving developments involving automotive batteries over the past century have centered on longer maintenance-free life.

Today, the focus is on additional storage capacity and power density. Rising fuel prices, anti-idling laws, alternative-drive vehicles and an exponential boom in the power requirements on commercial vehicles all are driving more battery research and development.

Many of the most popular batteries on the market today are absorbed glass mat units that can handle new trucks’ complex electronic systems, and the truck battery evolution is just beginning.

Experts say the next generation of products will be smaller and lighter with even greater energy storage capacity. Also on the way are “smarter” batteries designed to control and prioritize energy consumption while automatically counteracting temperature extremes.

Carrier PowerRush Platinum AGMCarrier’s PowerRush Platinum AGM battery is engineered to retain more power in low temperatures by using absorbed glass mat technology to provide 1,150 cold-cranking amps of high starting power, deep cycling ability and added cold starting performance. The pure lead battery is designed for higher performance and longer life than conventional 12-volt wet-cell batteries.

Deka 65 Intimidator AGMDeka’s Intimidator AGM battery line is built with a tightly compressed structure and a reinforced internal design that helps protect against intense vibration while providing added starting power. The unit also has a sealed exterior to help resist moisture and a flat-plate design for added cube space. The battery is designed to handle severe driving conditions, frequent stopping and starting and power for electronic devices.

Exide Extreme Cycler Group 31Exide’s Extreme Cycler 200 battery is a bridge between the company’s pre-existing Group 31 product lines and its valve-regulated RoadForce AGM-200 battery. The flooded product is available with 700 cold-cranking amps and 200 minutes of reserve capacity for no-idle demands. Design elements include flooded epoxy anchor bonding, a reinforced ribbed case, heavier terminal connections, screw-in caps with rubber manifold venting and oversized cast-on straps.

Interstate Batteries MT7 AGMInterstate’s MT7 AGM battery features the company’s Pure Matrix Power, a 99.99 percent pure nonalloy lead in ultra-thin plates. The battery, available in group sizes 34, 65 and 78, is designed to accommodate the cycling demands of additional devices such as cellphones, backup sensors and GPS navigators. The unit also is leakproof, vibration-resistant, maintenance-free and installable at any angle except upside-down.

Maxwell Technologies UltracapacitorMaxwell’s Engine Start Module is a highly specialized 12-volt battery that uses power-dense ultracapacitors designed to provide a sustained burst of starting amps to start the engine. The Maxwell ESM replaces a single Group 31 battery in the vehicle’s battery box and connects directly to a truck’s starter via a dedicated third terminal on the unit. The remaining truck batteries are isolated from the cranking process and concentrate on providing long-term power to the vehicle when it is at rest, while the Maxwell ESM is dedicated solely to starting the vehicle and is not drawn upon when the engine is turned off. Once the ESM has started the truck, the alternator recharges it in less than 15 minutes.

Odyssey Performance Series 31-800The Odyssey Performance Series 31-800 battery from EnerSys is engineered to provide 802 cold-cranking amps and a deep-cycle capability of up to 400 cycles at 80 percent depth of discharge to handle the increase in onboard accessories in today’s heavy-duty vehicles. The nonspillable battery is designed to resist vibration and has a two-year storage life at 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

TRN_OverDriveAGM31_LTrojan’s OverDrive AGM 31 is engineered for deep-discharge applications such as hotel loads by providing 730 cold-cranking amps while delivering longer-duration energy storage. Performance and overall life are enhanced by a heavy-duty thick plate construction, a high-density paste and a rugged polypropylene case, while the sunburst-array design of its corrosion-resistant grid helps facilitate peak starting performance by channeling power to the battery’s focal point of charge.

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