Komatsu unveils sodium-ion powered forklift

News Story
- 14 Mar 2024 ( #1170 ) - Tokyo, Japan
1 min read
Komatsu says it has made the world's first sodium-ion powered forklift
Komatsu says it has made the world's first sodium-ion powered forklift

Japanese equipment maker Komatsu has unveiled a forklift powered by sodium-ion batteries.

Komatsu says the proof of concept forklift is its first venture into equipping machines with sodium-ion batteries, as well as the world’s first sodium-ion powered forklift.

Proof of concept testing will begin at customer worksites from this month.

“Komatsu has developed this concept machine to provide an appropriate option for worksites with shortened, light-load operations,” the company says in a statement.

The concept machine is equipped with a sodium-ion battery pack developed by Shanghai Hirano Environment Technology Company using sodium-ion battery cells manufactured by China-based Jiangsu Highstar Battery Manufacturing Company.

The battery pack is designed for Komatsu's 1.5 T class electric forklifts.

“The forthcoming site trials aim to validate the optimal usage based on the new battery's performance and its unique characteristics, with an eye toward future commercial production,” Komatsu says.

Komatsu already offers forklifts powered by standard, lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries.

“Despite these advancements, electrification faces challenges, especially in worksites with shortened, light-load operations, where the high initial costs often lead to the selection of engine-driven forklifts due to high initial costs of electric models.

“This newly equipped sodium-ion batteries, despite their lower energy density, support rapid charging, enabling continuous operation through frequent recharges.

“Their long cycle life (the number of times the battery can be repeatedly charged and discharged) also prolongs the interval before battery replacement becomes necessary, offering the potential to reduce running costs.

“Moreover, the use of sodium, which is abundant on earth, ensures stable supply and the prospect of cost reductions in the future, presenting significant advantages.”

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