Energy Storage Solutions in Use Today
When we talk about energy storage, we're referring to the battery packs used to operate electric GSE. Battery packs can store and retain energy from one source to be used later in mobile applications, like with electric aircraft tugs. Of the many battery pack types, few are rechargeable, and even fewer are suitable for powering electric GSE. This is why most operations use either lead acid or lithium-ion batteries.
What Is a Lead Acid Battery?
It's important to note that lead acid battery packs are often still the preferred option for early-generation electric aircraft tugs, where the additional weight is another added benefit. Considering how easy and cost-effective it is to acquire a mass number of lead acid batteries, they will likely remain popular.
What Is a Lithium-Ion Battery?
While a lithium-ion battery pack is quick to charge, can be used for long cycles and has an excellent range and energy density, there is still a glaring issue facing the aviation industry. We're quickly discovering that lithium-ion battery packs are much more challenging to recycle sustainably than a simple lead acid battery. Once lead acid batteries are discarded, most of the components (lead and plastic) are completely recyclable and can be used for the next production cycle. The process for lithium-ion batteries is much more complex. Much of the battery pack is non-recyclable, and not every recycling center will take them.
The Future of Energy Storage and Electric Aircraft Tugs
It's an exciting time for the future of electric GSE energy storage solutions. Much research is being conducted to provide the best possible solutions for the aviation industry. While electric-powered GSE has its limitations, using electric aircraft tugs is still a significant step forward.
Of course, diesel power will always have its place in the aviation industry. But electrical power continues to showcase its immense potential in airports, ground handling companies and fixed-base operations worldwide. Sustainable electric GSE is not only more environmentally responsible, but it's also a far safer and more practical option for operations.
A Note on the Possibilities of Lithium Titanate
Lithium titanate is an emerging solution with a significant advantage over lithium-ion batteries. It can charge even faster than lithium-ion, enabling fifteen-minute charging times in all weather conditions. Regardless of the application, one of the most significant limitations to electric aircraft tugs is their limited capacity to operate in extreme weather conditions (particularly extreme cold). Lithium titanate currently carries a low energy density, a drawback of this emerging technology. However, as it develops, there are possibilities that it may become the prevailing all-weather energy storage solution for electric aircraft tugs.