Guide to GSE Energy Storage Solutions

Energy Storage Solutions

There are currently two main types of energy storage solutions airports, ground handling companies and fixed-base operations use to power their electric ground support equipment (GSE): lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. Electricity has long been used in the industrial sector to power equipment – mainly in work environments where carbon emissions are too dangerous. However, the aviation industry views the electrification of GSE as part of the global effort toward cleaner and greener airport transportation. While there are some limitations to electrically powered GSE, like electric aircraft tugs, energy storage solutions are still a significant step forward in cutting emissions and reducing the aviation industry's carbon footprint.

This article will serve as a guide to electric GSE energy storage solutions, highlighting the current state of energy storage and exploring future possibilities.

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?

Lead acid batteries have been in use for over a century. While they are not the most efficient energy source on the market, they can be easily paralleled for added storage or tied in a series in order to amplify their voltage.

Additionally, lead acid battery packs are an extremely cheap option for any operation. Because they can provide high surge currents at a low price, the lead acid battery remains a popular choice for combustion-starting electric GSE. Lead acid batteries are also deep cycle, meaning that while they are designed to be used and recharged for long periods, it is often recommended not to discharge below 45 percent of their capacity to extend their life.

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?

Lithium-ion batteries are a much newer rechargeable battery pack technology than their lead acid counterparts. They are made up of cells containing lithium ions that move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode through an electrolyte. Lithium-ion batteries have a much higher energy density than lead acid batteries, making them a perfect fit for electric aircraft tugs, cars and motorcycles. They are also mainstream in tablets, laptops and phones.

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

All GSE, including electric GSE, relies on the current technology of our time. Lithium-ion batteries are the newest energy storage solutions, but they still have issues.

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.

Power Your Electric Aircraft Tugs With Energy Storage Solutions From Eagle Tugs

Create a cleaner, greener environment at your airport, ground handling company or fixed-base operation with the help of Eagle Tugs. Each industry-leading electric aircraft tug in our lineup is outfitted with energy storage solutions that will meet your operation needs with unparalleled efficiency. We also carry a great selection of aircraft charging equipment to ensure your electric GSE and aircraft batteries never lose their charge. Browse our entire catalog today. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us anytime. We're always happy to help.

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