Lithium-ion batteries have long been considered dangerous and liable to trigger fires, which has thus far made their use in explosion-protected areas unthinkable, despite their considerable advantages over conventional batteries. In the development of the LiTex battery, the topic of safety was therefore paramount.
“Safety is the overriding directive,” stresses Jörg Backhaus, ATEX representative at Stöcklin Logistik AG and developer of the explosion-protected battery. “From the selection of the battery cells (LiFePO4) and their arrangement to the active balancing and the high level of thermal safety, numerous factors were taken into account in order to guarantee flawless functionality.”
Following the type approval test in December 2019, authorization is now in place for the patented battery, which is guaranteed for problem-free use in gas (zone 1) and dusty atmospheres (zone 21). Thanks to both the flameproof battery housing and the pressurized enclosure in which the charger is housed, the battery can be charged in hazardous areas, which optimizes the use of vehicles powered by the LiTex battery.
Maximum lifespan with minimal maintenance
The advantages of the lithium-ion battery are the minimal maintenance it requires and its long lifespan. One inspection per year is sufficient. The battery doesn’t need to be changed, and can instead be charged directly within the device—even on-site in an ex-protected area. There is no need to bother topping up water levels or deal with battery acid. Since the battery is not only able to handle intermittent charging but is indeed designed for it, drivers can use their breaks to recharge it—the more frequently the better. Hence rigorous use in 24/7 operations is not a problem, provided certain guidelines are adhered to. With the benchmark data Stöcklin proposes, a lifespan of up to 5,000 cycles is not a problem.
Stöcklin Logistik AG has already spent seven years working on the development of lithium-ion batteries, which are in ever greater demand. Since 2017, every fifth vehicle has left the Stöcklin Logistik AG plant equipped with a lithium battery. A stable trend is also emerging for the still young 2020. Other areas in which the battery may be used are primarily mining, cleanroom technology and offshore platforms, where the lithium-ion battery eliminates the problem of the inevitable “decompression” for battery changes and the risks of lead-acid batteries “degassing”.