Research for Better Batteries—Lead-Based Batteries
Don’t let the lithium-ion references fool you. Lead still matters.
Even in Europe, the lead-based battery matters. (Images: Consortium for Battery Innovation)
Although there is a whole lot of attention being given to various and sundry types of battery developments—all of which have the word lithium associated with them—there is still a material that has significant presence in the auto space: Lead.
According to the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI), which includes “the leading players in the lead battery value chain, including battery manufacturers, lead producers, recyclers and industry suppliers.”
According to the CBI there are more than 275-million vehicles on the roads in the U.S. right now with lead batteries.
And clearly they don’t want to lose space to that other element.
The road ahead
To accomplish this they have developed a three-year roadmap indicating research priorities. (Some of which are non-automotive, but which have automotive implications, such as smart grids and residential energy storage: let’s face it, if there are going to be electric vehicles, electricity is good to have available.)
For the auto space they’re concentrating on batteries for start-stop systems and micro hybrids.
According to the study, for these applications, “Lead batteries still retain most of the market both now and in the medium-term, but Li-ion are getting better and cheaper. Improving DCA and resolving the associated water loss issues needs to be addressed urgently. The requirements are high and stable DCA, PSoC durability with fast SoC recovery to provide stable SS/micro-hybrid capability over life and lower failure rates in hot climates.”
- Li-ion: lithium-ion
- DCA: dynamic charge acceptance
- PSoC: partial state-of-charge
- SoC: state of charge
- SS: start stop
According to Dr. Tim Ellis, president of RSR Technologies, “a research and development company engaged in the non-ferrous smelting and refining industries,” and chairman of the CBI: “There is no doubt that in the U.S. we will need to support a range of battery technologies to meet the needs of diverse products and applications. One of the great advantages of lead batteries is that we’re only now beginning to unlock the full potential of the technology.”
That last bit sounds like what the promoters of the internal combustion engine say, as well.
Ram Truck chief exterior designer Joe Dehner talks about how they’ve developed the all-new pickup. “We’ve been building trucks for over 100 years,” he says. “Best I could come up with is that this is our 15th-generation truck.”
Chrysler pioneered the modern-day minivan more than 30 years ago and has been refining and improving that type of vehicle ever since.
A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.