The continuing success of lead battery products and the potential for new markets were among the encouraging news for delegates at the sell-out 14th European Lead Battery Conference (14ELBC) held in September.
Near record numbers (698 delegates from more than 50 countries and more than 100 exhibition stands) attended two days of presentations in Edinburgh, Scotland, on the theme of sustainability at the conference organised by the International Lead Association.
Among the positive developments for lead batteries were:
• Emission-saving start-stop vehicles, using advanced lead batteries, are predicted to be 50% of the new automobile market in Europe by 2020 with signs that they will then dominate the market. China and USA are also expected to follow suit.
• Large-scale energy storage is seen as the next major market for lead batteries, with several papers in the Energy Storage for Future Electricity Networks session describing real projects now in operation using lead batteries. Several battery manufacturers have off-the-shelf modules on the market which are easy to install. Some parts of the industry believe there is the potential for this market to become as large as, if not larger than, the market for vehicle batteries.
Keynote speaker, Julian Allwood, a Lead Author of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), put the role of lead and lead batteries firmly in the context of the need to reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels in order to help control carbon emissions. He homed in on lead’s recyclability (much less energy to recycle than to smelt from ores) and the need for lead batteries for energy storage (to capitalise on renewable energy sources).
In other sessions, the dramatic improvements in lead batteries resulting from the addition of carbon to the negative active mass were seen as a critical focus for future research. The task now is to understand why the carbon is so beneficial, and to identify the most effective parameters of that carbon (size, shape, optimum % addition, etc) and especially the type of carbon (carbon black, graphite, graphene, nanotubes, etc).
A limiting factor in the wider use of lead batteries is the speed at which they can be recharged. This is known as Dynamic Charge Acceptance (DCA) and will be another major focus for future research.
The next European Lead Battery Conference will take place in Valletta, Malta, 13-16 September 2016.
The International Lead Association is the worldwide membership body that supports companies involved in the mining, smelting, refining and recycling of lead. The ILA represents the producers of about 3 million tonnes of lead.
With offices in the UK and USA the ILA provides a range of technical, scientific and communications support and is focused on all aspects of the industry’s safe production, use and recycling of lead and helps funds bodies such as the International Lead Management Center and ILZRO.
The Lead REACH Consortium is a stand-alone project of ILA-Europe and its activities are funded by 100 member companies.
ILA also supports the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium, which manages the research, development and promotion of lead-based batteries for markets such as hybrid electric vehicles, start-stop automotive systems and grid-scale energy storage applications.