Blog | February 21, 2018

Dreams Come True, Thanks to Lead Batteries

Young man compeeting at giant slalom race, bending the red gate, against the blue sky

Every four years, some of us become a tad obsessed with winter sports. Suddenly, we’re armchair experts on triple axels, downhill skiing and snowboard acrobatics.

Did you know that lead batteries play an essential role at winter sports competitions around the globe? Our behind-the-scenes heroes take care of business, so the rest of us can dream about what fabulous attire Tara and Johnny will don as they critique a figure skaters’ choreography, or whether blue uniforms really do give speed skaters an advantage.

Smooth Surfaces for Skaters

Front view of young adult women performing jump on the indoor rinkGold-medal skaters are all about perfection. Even a single ding in the ice can derail the best talent and training. Thankfully, the electric Zamboni Model 552AC  ice resurfacer – powered by an 80-volt lead battery – is the ice resurfacer of choice to prepare and repair rinks for elite competitions around the world. If you catch a glimpse of a Zamboni machine on the ice, give a cheer for what’s “under the hood”!

While many Zamboni machines, named for their inventor Frank Zamboni, run on gas, propane or natural gas, a large percentage of the machines are electric powered. Frank Zamboni introduced the first electric powered ice resurfacer during the 1960 Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, Calif. With the evolution of battery technology, the company continued its development of emission-free equipment for indoor rinks, and introduced the Model 552 battery-powered resurfacer in 1990. Since that time, more than 1,000 of the electric Zamboni machines have been delivered around the world. But Zamboni machines have captured the imagination of skating fans since figure skater legend Sonja Henie, a three-time Olympic champion, insisted on having her own personal Zamboni machine accompany her on ice revue across the United States.

Ideal Snow Conditions for Skiers

The winter games not only hold the aspirations of athletes, but also people like Paul Hoagland of Dillon, Colo. As the age of 54, he is achieving his Olympic dream – to manicure the snow at a winter Olympics. He is on an international team of 10 who rise at dawn daily to operate a four-ton PistenBully 400 winch cat snow groomer, affectionately known as a “snowcat.” This powerful piece of equipment runs on two 12-volt batteries and performs in the toughest conditions. It builds and grooms courses for elite skiing competitions, including the Montafon World Cup 2017. In an interview with Steamboat Today, Hoagland said he and his nine colleagues have built a downhill course with “a meter-and-a-half of minimum snow depth across the 2,700 feed of vertical gain.” The course will be used for men’s, women’s and Paralympic competitions.

A Gold Medal for Lead Batteries

No matter who you’re rooting for, winter sports unite the world. We’re thrilled that lead batteries help pave the way for all kinds of dreams to come true.

For more behind-the-scenes tales, click here.


Sign up to receive our monthly news summary.

John Howes

The Energy Storage Grand Challenge report….reflects growing recognition from DOE and others that lead batteries are among important energy storage technologies that require investment to secure America’s global leadership on technological innovation and a green economy infrastructure.

John Howes, Principal, Redland Energy Group