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ALABC showcased three 48V hybrid demonstrators at AABC featuring advanced lead-carbon batteries

The Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) last month showcased three hybrid electric concept vehicles resulting from its R&D program that demonstrate the real-world potential of lead-carbon batteries in 48V architectures. The cars, two of which were produced in association with major OEMs (Ford and Hyundai/Kia), exhibit substantial environmental and fuel-efficient benefits through low-cost hybridization. The vehicles were part of the ALABC display at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC Europe 2015) held at the Rheingoldhalle in Mainz, Germany.

All three vehicles feature advanced lead-carbon batteries, also known as carbon-enhanced lead-acid batteries. The batteries, Exide’s spiral-wound Orbital AGM and East Penn Manufacturing’s UltraBattery (the latest model of which was also on display at the ALABC stand), are some of the most effective lead-carbon designs for 48V hybrid electrification, ALABC said.

As pointed out by Kia and other partners, these batteries were chosen for this particular hybrid application because of:

  1. their performance in high-rate partial state-of-charge operation;
  2. their ability to operate in sub-freezing temperatures;
  3. the lack of need for an active battery cooling system;
  4. their cost advantages over lithium-ion batteries; and
  5. their high recyclability rate.

The latest lead-carbon battery designs can operate between 30 to 70% state-of-charge at 12.5kW, which seems to be the target rate for micro/mild hybrid electric vehicle duty. Additionally, as with conventional SLI (starting-lighting-ignition) batteries, advanced lead-carbon batteries can be used at temperatures as low as minus 30°C (-22°F), which is currently not possible with lithium-ion batteries, but is an essential requirement for vehicles used in the snow-belt areas of the northern United States, Europe and various parts of Asia. Lead-carbon batteries also differ from lithium-ion in that they require no active cooling and no expensive battery management system at a cell level.

As with all lead-acid batteries, the cost-to-performance ratio provides high production value that is already well-known to automotive manufacturers, and despite their relative enhancements, lead-carbon offers cost advantages that are still significantly lower than other battery chemistries. Finally, lead-carbon batteries, like all lead-acid batteries, have a recycling rate of 99% in North America and Europe.

The concept of 48-volt mild hybrid powertrains is drawing quite a bit of attention from automakers because they are working diligently to lower CO2 emissions by increased electrification of the powertrain as opportunities for achieving still more fuel efficient engines diminish. The problem is, while needing to reduce emissions, it is necessary to keep production at a relatively low cost. Right now, we believe the best way to achieve that is with a modified micro/mild-hybrid powertrain powered by advanced lead-carbon batteries.

—ALABC European project coordinator Allan Cooper

The three vehicles in the ALABC’s 48V hybrid display included the following:

  • The 48V LC SuperHybrid. (Earlier post.) Project Partners: ALABC, Controlled Power Technologies (CPT), Valeo, AVL Schrick, Provector, Mubea, and the University of Sheffield)
    Earlier conceptualized in a 12-volt architecture, this micro/mild hybrid is also based on a gasoline-powered, turbo-charged 1.4 TSI Volkswagen Passat and enhanced with a Valeo electric supercharger and a CPT integrated starter generator (ISG) both powered by Exide Orbital lead-carbon batteries to enhance performance, extend mileage and lower emissions at an affordable cost.

    The 48V demonstrator differs from the 12V design by offering additional functionality including torque assist to the engine for enhanced launch and acceleration, optimized cruise conditions, and the ability to harvest significantly more kinetic energy from regenerative braking. While the vehicle is still undergoing enhanced calibration, initial results indicate a 13% CO2 reduction over the base car and simulation indicates a possible extra 5% reduction over the NEDC cycle. This was the ALABC’s first 48V demonstration, and it has drawn considerable attention from OEMs.

  • The 48V Kia Optima T-Hybrid. (Earlier post.) Project Partners: ALABC, Hyundai Motor Group, AVL Schrick, Valeo, and East Penn Manufacturing
    Loosely-based on the 48V LC SuperHybrid, this concept vehicle is powered by the Optima’s existing 1.7 liter CRDi turbo-diesel engine, paired with a Valeo 10 kW electric starter generator and electric supercharger powered by a 48V version of East Penn’s lead-carbon UltraBattery. The diesel-electric powertrain concept enables the T-Hybrid (turbo-hybrid) to be driven in electric-only mode at low speeds and when cruising, with deceleration serving to recharge the battery pack. It includes start-stop functionality and regenerative braking, but also provides the enhanced power and torque at low speeds that made the aforementioned LC SuperHybrid so popular in test drives.

    During the conference session on 28 Jan., Ulf Stenzel, Lead Engineer New Battery Technologies – Hybrid & Electric Powertrain Systems at AVL Schrick, provided an overview of the battery and powertrain technology used in the 48V Kia mild-hybrid system and a brief summary of the achieved results.

  • The ADEPT 48V. (Earlier post.) Project Partners: ALABC, Ford Motor Company, Ricardo, CPT, Provector, Faurecia, the University of Nottingham, and the University of Sheffield
    The ADEPT (Advanced Diesel Electric Powertrain) combines low-cost, micro/mild hybrid technologies similar to those in the LCSH with a high degree of synergy to reduce current class-leading C-segment CO2 emissions by an additional 15-20%. Based on a Ford Focus, this vehicle is projected to cut CO2 levels to 75g/km while indicating a pathway to 70g/km at a cost/emissions reduction ratio superior to a full-hybrid solution.

    The system includes regen braking and other efficiency improvements for optimized oil flow and pressure control, as well as a 48V electric turbine that captures exhaust waste heat for conversion to additional recovered electrical energy. However, unlike the other two cars, it does not have an electric supercharger but will rely solely on the starter/generator for initial torque assist on the engine.

The ALABC and its member companies have worked for more than 20 years to bring lead-carbon technology from the laboratory to the marketplace. Companies such as East Penn Manufacturing, Moura, Energy Power Systems, Exide (Europe), FIAMM, and Shin Kobe are all working on various lead-acid and lead-carbon technologies for 48V automotive applications, and many are participating in ALABC projects to enhance these batteries and prove their viability in the emerging 48V marketplace.

Some of the support for the Kia Project was obtained through special funding from ALABC members including the RSR Corporation, the Doe Run Company, Teck Metals, Acumuladores Moura, Britannia Refined Metals, and an anonymous metals trader.

The Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium is an international research cooperative comprised of lead producers, battery manufacturers, equipment suppliers, and research facilities organized to enhance the performance of lead-acid batteries for a variety of markets, including hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) applications, renewable applications, and various other energy storage systems.

Founded in 1992 as a program of the International Lead Zinc Research Organization (ILZRO), the ALABC pools the resources of its global membership in order to perform specific research on advanced lead-acid batteries that otherwise would not be possible by any single entity.


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The non-polluting alternative to the lead-acid batteries would be Toshibas and Johnson Controls new 12V lithium titanate batteries. See

These titanate batteries can as the only lithium based battery chemistry do the all important cold cranking just like the good old but highly polluting lead acid battery. It is time to prohibit these lead-acid batteries as they are no longer needed.

Account Deleted

Here is a link to Toshibas product page


To be fair Henrick, lead acid batteries are usually around 99% recycled or more... they are illegal to dump, and most people are charged a core charge if they fail to return the old one for recycling.

The lead industry has stopped mining in the US, but Lb batteries are still common place.

But like anything, criminals will find a way to dump or otherwise ruin the environment.... I'd be more worried about the millions of gallons of unaccounted oil from oil changes each year rather than the relatively few batteries that don't go reclaimed.

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Lead is a very toxic heavy metal that accumulates over time in our bodies and causes more and more damage. The largest source of lead contamination (now that leaded gasoline is history) in our food chain is all the batteries that goes into autos. I know that 99% are recycled. But the that still leaves 1% that are not or some 2,000,000 = 0.01*200,000,000 lead acid batteries globally that may end up in the food chain. A lithium titanate battery can be dumped on a corn growing field with no harm to the corn grown. But they will also be largely recycled to salvage their scrap value.

Oil spills only contain relatively non-toxic hydrocarbons that quickly breaks down. They are not a long-term threat to the food chain like lead acid poisoning.


It usually affects those under 24yo, I wasn't aware that lead moved up and through the food chain like mercury. I thought it was contact environment based(Dust, paint chips etcetera)

I did say 99% or more it is probably closer to 99.999% maybe 1400 a year. Many states charge $12 or more for a core. Globally is a very different story, and on a global scale Li-Ti batteries are going to not be as competitive in 3rd world countries, Lead is going to be the mainstay. Globally I could see an issue.

Well with used oil you have a lot of toxins, and heavy metals from the rings, and the combustion event. New Oil, or even Crude is very safe (just very inconvenient) compared to used oil.

Account Deleted

OK I thought you referred to oil spills from oil drilling. These spills are not as bad for the environment as many thinks. I agree that spills and unlawful disposals of used motor oil is a bigger problem. Problem here is that there is not good alternatives apart from driving BEVs and most people cannot afford that currently and will not until we get autonomous vehicles However, everyone can afford the 70 USD or so extra that a lithium titanate battery will cost extra when Johnson make them available starting 2018.


If they got these going with AGM batteries initially and transitioned to Li Titanate, it would be OK.

If it is cheap enough to partially hybridise diesel cars, it would be a very good thing (all those diesels not being used in cities).

Thomas Pedersen


Do you have any sources that document that lead from batteries gets into the food chain?

I mean, in order for lead from batteries to get into the food chain, it would have to come in contact with the food chain.

Are you (or someone else) saying that 1% of lead-acid batteries get dumped in the crop fields and quickly de-compose to enter the food stream?

I do not know much about this subject, I must confess.

It seems to me that the benefits of these batteries are quite substantial and serve to simplify hybrid vehicles.

Thomas Pedersen

I see a substantial potential for the application of these batteries.

- Launch assist: An additional starter motor connected to the gear box allows electric propulsion from 0-5 mph, at which point 1st gear can kick in. Results: greatly reduced wear on the clutch and/or reduced losses in the torque converter. But more importantly, a higher 1st gear can allow for a lower spread of gear ratios while still achieve higher top gear. This leads to cheaper gear boxes to off-set the cost of the additional battery and tighter gears or fewer gears leading to fewer loss-inducing gear shifts. If assist is given by a beefed-up starter/generator, then it leads to additional clutch wear, rather than less.
- Electric turbos. There has been plenty said about these, and the backing by Audi serves to prove its potential. Used by Ricardo for aggressive down-sizing (although down-sized gas engines have had trouble reaching their theoretical potential in real life driving).
- High gear torque assist. I cannot count how many times my auto gear box has downshifted <5 sec. before I reach the peak of a small hill. Combination with navigation system (as already developed by Mercedes) can apply electric assist in those situations where additional torque is required briefly, without having to down-shift. This will also lead to fuel savings and emission reductions by keeping the ICE in the sweet spot.
- Higher regen. Already elaborated on.
- Longer period of hotel loads for passenger cars, but more importantly, trucks.
- Low-speed electric driving. While this perhaps does not save much fuel, I bet many people would be happy to drive pure-electric close to their own home.

I'm sure there are more benefits but those were the main ones I could come up with of the top of my head.


A 20% CO2 (fuel) reduction is fine, but leaves money on the table.

What really needs to be integrated into these concepts is micro-PHEV.  A 700 Wh battery with a 30%-70% SOC window in operation could be charged to 90% off-line, an average of 280 Wh of energy.  This is sufficient to drive the average vehicle about a mile.  A charging connection can also be used to pre-condition the cabin for driving, saving additional fuel consumption.  280 Wh is about 12 minutes of charging on a Level 1 connection, meaning it could easily be spread out between half an hour to a work day as dispatchable demand for V2G grid regulation.  Then the driver gets roughly 1 mile of fuel savings over the next several.  Do this several times a day and you could get another 10% fuel savings.

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