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PEC 20M: 2:71:48 Northstar Battery Factory Tour
» SUMMARY _»- MORE INFORMATION
NorthStar Battery produces thin- www.northstarbattery.com
plate, pure-lbad AGM batteries. www.batteriesplusbulbs.com
NorthStar may ba a new name in the
car battery business, but in at least
one field test, they have already
proven to make the best batteries.
orthStar Battery
Company has always been at the
very top of the short-duration, high-
energy, lead-acid battery technology.
Their thin-plate, pure-lead Absorbed
Glass Mat (AGM) batteries and bat-
tery packs are used in Telecom
Power Systems (cell tower backup),
Uninterruptible Power Supplies, and
mission-critical Engine Start appli-
cations. Think of them as the Aston
Martin of lead-acid batteries.
NorthStar does not produce any
standard flooded cell, maintenance-free
automotive batteries. They do not make
any conventional, calcium AGM batter-
ies. They do not make any gel batteries.
NorthStar only manufactures “pure-
lead” AGM batteries.
NorthStar batteries are designed and
built in America. NorthStar has over 100
distributors in 37 states and 90 distribu-
tors in Canada. When combined with
650 Batteries Plus Bulbs™ locations, a
NorthStar-built battery can be provided
to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada.
LAW and ORDER had a chance to
tour the NorthStar production facil-
ity in Springfield, Mo., the heart of the
Lead Belt, to see how the best kind of
The best time to install an AGM battery, like
the NorthStar, is during the initial upfit. That
is the low total cost option to replacing an
average of three OE batterles during the lite of
a typical police vehicle.
(The original Winchester shot tower
THIN-P Ë Гана PU RE-LE AD AGM = the world leaders in lead production.
=
ous process, the lead ingot is melted
i = automotive batteries are made.
== All the NorthStar car batteries used
* in North America are assembled in
the USA from USA or Canadian raw
materials. All of the plastic parts (base
+. and lid) are molded in the Midwest.
All of the lead—and these are pure
lead batteries—comes from Canada.
| ~~ The Midwest used to be the leader in
в lead production. About 70 percent of
the lead mined in the U.S. comes from
is across the river from St. Louis.) Re-
cently, however, the lead in NorthStar
BATTERIES:.MADE INTHE USA | Thin Plate, Pure Lead
ст emm ondo € The process begins with 99.99-
NEO Lie e 3 ; i ; o a Ta Е E Ea ==
By LAW and ORDER staff EE mier : = LET = and poured over a wide, flat cold wheel
FACTORY TOUR ~~ the Lead Belt in Southeast Missouri.
= batteries has come from Canada, one of
percent pure lead ingot. In a continu-
50 LAW and ORDER | April 2015
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® The NorthStar thin-plate, pure-lead AGM battery came E The first step in the AGM manufacturing process
in first in the long-term continuous 40-amp draw test is to pour molten lead over a cold wheel and then
and first in the short-burst winch pull test. The blue top precisely roll it to just 1 mm thick.
means this is a private label NorthStar battery.
where it solidifies. This thin layer of lead is squeezed between
two rollers to precisely flatten it to 1mm thick.
In AGM battery technology, there are two basic designs of
lead plate: thin plate and thick plate. Conventional calcium
AGM batteries use thicker lead plates and the pure-lead AGM
batteries use thinner lead plates.
The thin plate design is the best for high battery capacity,
which is expressed as Amp-hour. Battery capacity is a measure
of the charge stored by the battery. This is the maximum amount
of energy that can be extracted by the battery in a short, heavy
burst of power. The thick plate design is best for a high reserve
capacity. Reserve capacity is the battery’s ability to sustain a
minimal electrical load in a slow, steady, low drain over time.
By mechanically compressing their Imm lead plates tightly to-
gether, NorthStar makes a true thin plate battery that also acts like a
true thick plate battery. The NorthStar battery has both a high bat-
tery capacity (thin plate) and a high reserve capacity (thick plate).
After precise roll-flattening, the flat strip of thin lead is then fed
through a punch press where the grid is stamped. The grid is where
the lead oxide-lead dioxide paste is pressed. The paste replaces the
liquid acid used in non-AGM batteries. Red-brown paste is positive
(+) lead dioxide, while gray paste is negative (-) lead oxide.
El
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Absorbed Glass Mat
An extremely thin fiberglass mat is placed between the positive
and negative plates. Itis from this process that the battery technol-
ogy gets its name: Absorbed Glass Mat, AGM. (This is also called
Absorbent Glass Mat and Advanced Glass Mat.) The micro-fiber-
glass mat looks and feels like cotton. The acid paste (the electrolyte)
is absorbed into the glass mat, and the non-conductive fiberglass
cloth keeps the positive and negative plates from touching.
The correct number of alternating positive and negative plates ® Thin plates of lead, alternating positive and
separated by the paste saturated mat are stacked together, then negative, separated by a thin mat are stacked and
squeezed under tremendous pressure. Remaining under com- then tightly compressed. This allows the thin plate
pression, the plates are inserted into a reinforced, proprietary battery to also perform like a thick plate battery.
www.lawandordermag.com 51
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E The AGM battery technology gets its name from a
thin piece of absorbent fiberglass saturated with
electrolyte paste that separates the lead plates.
TU
im
E The battery is filled with the precise amount of
sulfuric acid.
RETO nude
E The massive lugs are plasma welded together.
These inter-cell joints simply never fail. The AGM
battery is the most vibration tolerant design.
compound polypropylene battery base.
This step of pressing the thin plates into one solid battery,
then holding that compression inside the battery housing,
is what makes a pure-lead AGM battery. The NorthStar lead
plates undergo up to a 38-percent compression. That is the dif-
ference in stack height between all the plates, paste and mats
just laying on top of one another and the final, compressed di-
mension as it is inserted into the battery housing.
Once in the battery base, the “inter-cell” connections are made
with thick, massive lead lugs. Inter-cell connectors are cast into
the plates, and bonded to resist vibration and eliminate internal
sparking. These over-the-top connections are plasma welded.
This spot weld is a complete reflow of the lead connection, the
strongest cell-to-cell connection in the industry. The inner lid is
then epoxy-sealed to the base to enclose the battery box.
From assembly, the new battery goes to acid fill. A filler adapter
is placed over the six vents in the battery lid. Precise amounts of
sulfuric acid are added. The batteries are then placed in a cold
bath to stop the initial chemical reaction. A “formation” process
takes place, curing the lead plates. The battery is fully discharged
and then recharged in a ‘series’ electrical connection.
All batteries outgas to some extent, even thin-plate, pure-lead
AGM batteries. Like all Valve Regulated batteries, the NorthStar
pure lead AGM has valves that vent internal gas over-pressure
to the outside. The same valve that allows the initial addition of
sulfuric acid at the factory is also the one-way ‘relief’ valve that
allows the battery to ‘burp.’
The final assembly step is the addition of an outer cover plate
over the battery lid. This cover plate is critical because it has the
vent channels that route gasses to the internal spark arrestors
that in turn vent to the outside of the battery. After a five-day
quality assurance process, the NorthStar battery is ready to start
police vehicles.
LaO Post your comments on this story by visiting
“di www.lawandordermag.com
52 LAW and ORDER | April 2015
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