Lead batteries: keeping electric vehicles safe
Europe and the United States along with many other states have set ambitious goals to reverse climate change and reduce carbon emissions by 2050.
In Europe, the initiatives are being driven through the EU Green Deal – and one of the central ways this will be achieved is through low carbon mobility.
Electric vehicles are at the forefront of discussions around low carbon vehicle fleets and the future of the automotive industry.
Both lithium and 12V auxiliary lead batteries are a critical onboard component for electric vehicles and lower emission vehicles such as hybrid vehicles. Lead batteries offer a number of key strengths in this application in comparison to other technologies.
The 12V auxiliary lead battery provides back up power for safety relevant features such as power steering and brake boosting. It is also essential for a vehicle’s comfort features such as radio and sound systems.
In the event of the failure of the high-voltage propulsion lithium-ion battery, the auxiliary lead battery takes over and powers the safety features of the vehicle to enable the car to safely pull over.
Lead batteries are highly safe and reliable, and it is vital that the safest technology is used in this application.
Current European investments in batteries has focused on the development of new battery technologies that can provide increasing system voltage levels of up to 800V. But this ignores the established 12V lead battery which is backed by an industry with 90 GWh installed production capacity located in Europe.
This industry, which collects lead batteries at end-of-life at rates of almost 100% in Europe and North America, is one of the leading examples of the circular economy in action.
From a production and supply standpoint, lead batteries are domestically produced in Europe and the United States for all of the target markets. This independence from global supply structures exists due to the established and well-maintained recycling industry, where almost 80% of material in a new lead battery comes from recycling. Even though the impact from full cradle to grave is small, in a recent lifecycle analysis of the environmental impact during the manufacturing phase, 12V automotive lead batteries as a technology were shown to have a lower impact compared to other technologies.
The safety record of lead batteries makes them an invaluable technology for Europe’s future low carbon mobility sector.
Through a long history of co-operation with the automotive industry, both the performance and the geometrical dimensions of the 12V lead battery are designed according to well established industry standards. This makes the automotive integration easy for the layout of new electric vehicle platforms.
We are in the age of the battery, and recognition should be given to the essential role different chemistries will play in achieving the green ambitions of countries. This needs to be recognized when these same countries come together to discuss climate goals at COP26 in November.
Recognising and utilising the strengths of 12V lead batteries, based on their performance, sustainability and safety profiles, will ensure Europe is a leader in the shift to an electric vehicle future.
Originally published by the Consortium for Battery Innovation.