Why Lithium-Iron Phosphate Batteries Are the Future of Ice Resurfacing

Why Lithium-Iron Phosphate Batteries Are the Future of Ice Resurfacing

At WM technics, we placed our bets on the electric drive with lithium-iron phosphate batteries for our ice resurfacing machines. This is due to the good odds: our ice resurfacers are “born electric”, meaning we have designed them as electric vehicles right from the start. Also, we are certified battery assemblers and won’t work with anything less than state-of-the-art technology – and that’s what lithium-iron phosphate batteries actually are. E-mobility is a pretty young market prone to constant change, innovation, and paradigm shifts.

 WM Mammoth Batteries

So is also the ice resurfacing business. Which batteries are being used? And why does WM technics bet on lithium-iron phosphate batteries? So many FAQs – we have the answers.


On which kind of motors do ice resurfacing machines run?


What are the benefits and disadvantages of the different kinds of batteries (lead-acid, lead-gel, lithium-iron phosphate)?


On Which Kind of Motors Do Ice Resurfacing Machines Run?

The whole topic is complicated, so our answers cannot be too detailed. That is why we are breaking everything down here into 2 different types of drive.



1. Combustion Engines

a. Fuel or gasoline

The good, old combustion engine driven by fuel or gasoline is still a thing in ice resurfacing. But the signs are clear: there won’t flow much water down the river until the market turns fully electrical. That is happening for pretty good reasons: combustion engines are deafening, emit polluting exhaust gases, and will one day no longer be affordable as oil reserves dwindle. But we will still turn the corner before the last oil reserve has been drained dry: even the automotive industry is gradually accepting the change to -mobility.


b. Natural Gas (LPG)

LPG engines are actually combustion engines and dominate the ice rinks in the United States. And there are good reasons for that: the US has high gas reserves; therefore, the stock and reasonable prices are secured for a long time. However, the states are perceiving the wind of change, not least because of the recent European shortage of natural gas, and its implicit consequences have not gone unnoticed overseas. Even the last person in the States has come to the conclusion that natural gas is a finite resource and that e-mobility has become a central aspect of future mobility scenarios.


2. E-drive with batteries

a. Lead-Acid & Lead-Gel Batteries (Pb/AGM)

Lead acid and lead gel batteries are iconic of the rapid development that e-mobility has taken in just a few years, especially in the logistics sector (forklift): Just as they have become standard in ice resurfacers, they are already a phase-out product for the industry. Lithium-based batteries are slowly but surely overtaking them. Why? We will explain that later.


b. Lithium-Iron Phosphate Batteries (LiFePO4)

WM technics doesn’t cope with phase-out products. When we develop new technologies, we only work with state-of-the-art - that means in terms of battery-powered e-drive in ice resurfacing machines with lithium-iron phosphate batteries. High cycle stability is only one of the advantages; all lithium technologies have in common: no combustion gases, no unpleasant odors, and no noise.


Born Electric

That is why we devote ourselves to the “born electric” principle: our ice resurfacers have been thought, designed, planned, and built as electric machines equipped with in-house assembled batteries.


Battery Access

What Are the Benefits and Disadvantages of the Different Kinds of Batteries (Lead-Acid, Lead-Gel, Lithium-Iron Phosphate)?


Battery Access

Get here a short overview of the benefits and disadvantages of the different battery kinds:


1. Lithium-Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)




Lifetime: at least 3-4 times as many charge cycles as lead batteries

Weight: weight reduced by 75% compared to lead batteries

Efficiency: only 1-2 kWh per ice treatment

Performance: high discharge power and extremely high peak power

Charging time: extremely fast charging with a fast charging terminal (80 % in 60 minutes)

Maintenance: maintenance free

Energy density: high energy density - one small battery is sufficient

Temperature range: -45 °C to 85 °C (recommended: -25 °C to 55 °C)

Fast payback: due to less maintenance, high efficiency in consumption, longevity

Cost/benefit: cost-intensive purchase/long lifetime

Security: Due to their cell chemistry, LiFePO4  cells are considered to be intrinsically safe as they eliminate the risk of thermal runaway and membrane melting which can occur in other lithium-ion accumulators. Operator safety is enhanced as no toxic gases are emitted while charging.




Acquisition cost: about 2-3 times more expensive than lead-acid batteries with the same capacity

Charge balancing: battery management system (BMS) necessary



2. Lead-Acid Batteries/Pb




Reliability: the most reliable of all batteries

Lifetime: up to 1,800 charging cycles

Maintenance: individual cells replaceable with commercially available parts

Cost/benefit: inexpensive purchase




Maintenance 1: water level maintenance once a week

Maintenance 2: annual all-around maintenance of approx. 120 minutes

Odor: gas or sulfur odor (formation of oxyhydrogen gas);

Corrosion: accelerator in case of poor ventilation

Infrastructure: garage with ventilation necessary

Charge: constant charge necessary

Charging time: 6-7 hours with qualitative charging

Efficiency: poor



3. Lead-Gel Batteries/AGM




Maintenance: low-maintenance/maintenance-free

Features: sealed cells with gel carrier without liquid acid

Infrastructure: no special garage is required




Acquisition cost: 1.5-1.7 times more expensive than Pb

Cost/benefit: medium acquisition/less power density

Efficiency: poor, high internal resistance and therefore relatively low power output