Lead battery research consortium promises big leap in performance; technical roadmap under development
A global battery consortium charged with advancing lead battery technology has re-launched as it prepares a new technical roadmap designed to extend both the performance and lifetime of the core battery technology. Since it was formed as the ALABC 25 years ago, the Consortium for Battery Innovation has ushered in innovations including start-stop batteries to help reduce CO2 emissions and boost fuel economy.
The Consortium, which includes more than 90 member companies worldwide supporting pre-competitive research into lead battery technology, is preparing for a surge in demand for energy storage in the next decade.
The program, which will be unveiled later this year, will fund projects designed to increase the cycle life of advanced lead batteries and further improve their ability to operate in applications such as start-stop and micro-hybrid applications.
Other areas highlighted for future study include in-depth research into the addition of elements such as carbon aimed at extending both lifetime and performance.
One of the Consortium’s studies is already underway in the US in partnership with the Argonne National Laboratory. It uses the laboratory’s synchrotron x-ray source to study the chemical changes occurring during charge and discharge reactions in real time, something not previously conducted with lead batteries.
I expect worldwide demand for energy storage to jump significantly in the next decade. In Europe alone demand is set to jump by up to 10 times by 2050. So advanced lead batteries will be critical to meeting that requirement, which is over and above existing uses such as start-stop batteries and back-up for mobile networks and emergency power.
There are many factors driving this demand, including decarbonisation and electrification. Excitingly, lead batteries are now becoming more common as energy storage for renewables, such as solar and wind, as local grids and independent electricity systems come on line. Cost, recycling, safety and reliability, as well as performance, are all important factors for these systems, which play to the strengths of lead batteries.
Overall there is of course an ever-present need for better performance and longer lifetime, so our next set of research priorities will amount to a big leap in the technology’s capability to help meet this surge in demand. The push for greater electrification requires a mix of battery technologies capable of delivering at scale. We are working with government research teams and universities in the US and Europe to develop the technology that will usher in the next generation of advanced lead batteries.—Dr. Alistair Davidson, Director of the Consortium for Battery Innovation
The Consortium includes an advisory panel made up of global battery experts who help define, assess and guide research.
The Consortium for Battery Innovation’s first workshop this year, taking place in Shanghai, China on 5 March will discuss the new research program.
Lead batteries currently account for 75% of worldwide rechargeable battery energy storage. As well as starter lighting and ignition batteries in vehicles, the batteries support everything from back-up power for data centers, mobile networks and hospitals to forklift trucks, boats and military applications. Increasingly, lead batteries are supporting renewable energy including solar and wind farms and micro-grids.
The Consortium’s technical roadmap will be published at the BCI Convention, New Orleans, 28 April - 1 May, 2019.