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Better Batteries Through Research

The Consortium for Battery Innovation is dedicated to advancing the technology of the lead battery. Yes, the thing you probably have under your hood.


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Although everyone—it seems—is chasing alternatives to the internal combustion engine, there are still stalwarts who are convinced there is a whole lot more than can be obtained from the spark- or compression-ignition engine, improvements that will give the powertrain a longer life before being relegated to the history books by electric motors.

And speaking of electricity, while there are multitudinous efforts to come up with lithium-ion-related chemistries for vehicles, there are still those who haven’t given up on the lead-acid battery.

Like the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI).

The organization, which says that through the work of its members—battery manufacturers, suppliers, research institutes and universities—over the past 25 years there has been “cutting-edge research pushing the boundaries of innovation in lead battery technology.”

UCLA Researchers Looking at It

It has just announced that a team of scientists at the University of California, Los Angles (UCLA) will be deploying scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) to observe the crystallization and dissolution of the phases in the charge-discharge cycle in a lead acid battery.

Stem image

This is an image of lead (Pb) dendrite growth and collapse taken with a transmission electron microscope. (Image: CBI)

This isn’t just any exam. It is being done at the nanoscale.

This project will be conducted over an 18-month period with the objective being to determine how to increase the performance and life of lead batteries.

As Professor Chris Regan, who is leading the UCLA research team, put it: “Lead batteries have been a mainstay technology for more than a hundred years, but there is a significant amount that is still to be understood about the fundamental reactions occurring in this chemistry. We believe this new technique will help unlock new technological data to improve the performance potential.”

Seems like the internal combustion engine as we’ve known it may be around a lot longer than some people seem to think.


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