|Firefly Energy’s micro-cellular-based foam plates offer much greater surface area for optimizing the lead-acid chemistry than conventional lead plates. Click to enlarge.|
Firefly Energy, the carbon-graphite foam lead-acid battery company (earlier post), is expanding into the trucking market with the commencement of a BCI Group 31 battery development program. Battery Council International (BCI) provides standardized definitions for the physical dimensions of a wide variety of batteries, and the Group 31 size battery is a broadly-deployed battery type in trucks.
The Firefly Group 31 battery will be available initially next summer with full production scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2008.
Firefly Energy’s development program comes several months before landmark trucking-related regulations take effect in the State of California. On 1 January 2008, diesel trucks operating in California face a five-minute idling limit. Traditional lead-acid batteries will be challenged by the severe strain of trying to support a trucker’s various “hotel loads” (air conditioning, TVs, etc.) which were previously powered by diesel engine idling. The result, says Firefly, will be premature battery failure since traditional lead acid batteries cannot easily withstand repeated deep discharging.
Truckers historically have bought batteries based on cold-cranking ratings and price. The game is now changing, and battery performance will become much more important in its contribution to trucker safety, comfort, and productivity. This calls for game-changing battery technology, which is why we are very excited to optimize our carbon-graphite foam lead acid battery technology for the needs of truckers.—Ed Williams, Firefly Energy CEO
The as yet un-named battery will have a sealed valve-regulated design. The primary characteristic of the first Firefly Energy lead acid battery is the inclusion of a high surface area, non-corrodible and light weight carbon-graphite foam material. Firefly Energy’s 3D carbon-graphite foam delivers more of the high power potential of lead acid chemistry which was impossible to achieve in the past.
The technology not only reduces the lead content making the batteries smaller and lighter, but additionally enables faster, deeper and more reliable discharges and recharges. This significantly extends the battery’s life, makes it more environmentally friendly, and less expensive than lithium and nickel battery chemistries.
While conventional deep-cycle lead acid batteries used in truck starting show sizeable performance drop-off after some 200 deep discharge cycles, the Firefly Energy battery is capable of achieving more than triple the deep cycles while still maintaining more than 90% of its initial capacity.
The company’s 3D battery offers continuous power through the discharge process, a fast recharge to 100% capacity, excellent vibration resistance and greater cold-starting capabilities.
Typical battery life is extended since sulfation is reduced. When tested in cold weather extremes at -20°C, the batteries were capable of delivering above 65% of their rated “room temperature” capacity compared to 20% or less for standard Group 31 batteries. This can help minimize alternator damage incurred while attempting cold-weather engine starts when batteries are low.
The Group 31 battery is similar to a battery Firefly Energy is developing for the US Army to give combat vehicles enough on-board electrical storage to power equipment without significantly decreasing battery life.
Firefly Energy technical backgrounder