Calstart to test military battery technology

Tests to integrate large military starter batteries in commercial trucks.


The U.S. Army has awarded Calstart a contract to test 12V Li-Ion batteries in commercial trucks. Using lithium chemistry in starter batteries could enable cost and fuel savings and greater electrification of trucks going forward.

This is the first time the military 6T configuration–a standard military form factor used in a wide variety of applications–of Li-Ion batteries will be tested in commercial trucks. Understanding the broader uses of batteries in commercial trucks–including hotel loads, idle reduction and other auxiliary power–can lead to improved energy efficiency and reduced dependence on oil.

Calstart's test of three different Li-Ion chemistries by three different manufacturers will assess if the batteries can deliver performance and reliability in multiple geographies in commercial trucks.

"Lithium-Ion battery technologies promise to hold out better in the field," said CALSTART president and CEO John Boesel. "In its own testing thus far, the military has found that lithium batteries last longer, resulting in fewer battery replacements and less need for inventory. If these field tests prove successful, the commercial trucking industry may, in the future, make the switch to lithium starter batteries. Higher production volumes would result in lower prices, benefiting both the military and commercial sectors," Boesel said.

The specific purpose of this effort is to apply recent advances in Li-Ion based anode, cathode, electrolyte and separator battery materials to electrode, cell and pack designs in order to develop twelve volt and twenty-four volt 6T batteries with significantly improved power and energy densities over existing lead acid alternatives. The three battery companies participating in the Calstart-led test are Navitas Systems LLC (www.navitassys.com), EaglePicher Technologies (www.eaglepicher.com), and Saft (www.saftbatteries.com).

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