Lead batteries will remain dominant battery technology across the world for the foreseeable future
London, 6th February 2018. Lead batteries will remain the dominant battery technology on the world’s roads for the foreseeable future, experts at Advanced Automotive Battery Conference in Germany indicated last week. Electric vehicle and advanced battery market experts dismissed the bullish predictions of several global auto OEMs who claim that pure electric vehicle market penetration will hit 20% by 2025. The mild hybrid market is largely expected to dominate in Europe and outside of China there is no path to a full electric vehicle market of any size according to experts of electrified vehicles gathered in Germany last week. This has direct consequences on the battery technologies used. “Developments in electric vehicle technology are moving quickly but improvements in lead battery technology speeded up faster than anyone could have expected”, according to Dr Boris Monahov, speaking at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference in Mainz Germany. “If the EV market even reaches 25% that means the key energy storage system used to electrify cars in 2025 will be the advanced lead battery technology,” said Dr Monahov of ALABC (Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium), the pre-competitive research organisation representing the lead battery industry.
The lead battery industry has moved quickly to meet automotive manufacturers’ requirements for the huge micro-hybrid and start-stop segments of the electrified vehicle market. The main criteria for choosing an advanced lead battery remain its unique combination of cost, safety, reliability, excellent performance and high recyclability advantages, compared to newer battery technologies, but on top of this the industry is now confident they are close to meeting car manufacturers’ targets for other key technical criteria. “ALABC is in the process of deploying a new technical roadmap that will take into account new OEM requirements in terms of performance and environmental targets. These include reduced tailpipe emissions,” said Dr Monahov, “which is closely linked to a critical factor known as dynamic charge acceptance—a battery’s ability to accept electrical energy produced when an electrified car is braking.” The ALABC’s technical programme includes further investigation into the fundamental science of the effect of carbon additives, which are already used to transform lead battery performance. Carbon additives are known to enhance dynamic charge acceptance but a detailed model of why this happens and how it can be improved further is not yet developed. The better this factor is, the more fuel-efficient the vehicle becomes. ALABC is also working on increasing the specific energy and weight reduction and the end of life cost estimation, to show that the new carbons keep the end of life cost low.
Real world benefits
The results coming from current ALABC projects indicate very encouraging advancements in the DCA of lead batteries, however it is vital that current tests and standards appropriately reflect the improved performance. This is why ALABC and its members are developing new tests to measure dynamic charge acceptance (DCA) in batteries more effectively and more quickly, with the objective of reducing them from the current 16 to only two weeks. The evolution of DCA of advanced lead batteries is really encouraging. Starting from 0.1 – 0.2 amperes per ampere hour (A/Ah) it increased rapidly as a result of optimizing cell design to 0.6 A/Ah. Today the most promising battery designs offer as much as 1.6 A/Ah. Improving DCA further is a high priority goal for ALABC. The overall feeling about lead batteries today is one of confidence. They have the lowest costs, highest recycling rate (over 99% of lead batteries are collected and recycled in Europe and North America) and highest reliability of all automotive batteries currently in use. Building on these well-known benefits, the industry is now also on track to shoot for even more ambitious energy density targets creating a real challenge to more expensive technologies.
The Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium is an international research co-operative comprised of lead producers, battery manufacturers, equipment suppliers, application developers, and research facilities organized to enhance the performance of lead batteries for a variety of markets, including hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) applications. A program of the International Lead Association, ALABC pools the resources of its global membership in order to perform specific research on advanced lead batteries that otherwise would not be possible by any single entity. For more information about the ALABC, visit www.alabc.org.
International Lead Association (ILA)
ILA is the trusted and authoritative global trade association for the lead industry. Its member companies are at the forefront of lead mining, smelting and recycling and through ILA are working towards a vision of a sustainable global lead industry that is recognised for the positive contribution it makes to society. www.ila-lead.org.
Jill Ledger (Ledger and Woolf) +33 6 63 74 84 44; [email protected]Gerry Woolf (Ledger and Woolf) +44 7950 848 774; [email protected]Hywel Jarman, Director of Communications (International Lead Association) +44 (0)20 7833 8090; [email protected]
Notes for editors
Definitions of electric and hybrid vehicles
The electrified vehicle market falls into the following segments: Stop-start, mild or micro hybridHEV or strong/full hybridPHEV or plug-in hybridEV, BEV or full electric vehicle
Stop-start, mild, micro hybrid
The mild family includes cars with so-called start stop functionality, where the combustion engine stops when the car is at traffic lights etc. and then the engine is cranked again when the vehicle moves off.As many as 70% of new cars have this functionality and it comes as a standard feature. These vehicles all use the lead battery technology. Next up in the family of mild vehicles are those which can recover the energy which would be normally wasted in braking and turn it back to electricity and move a short distance on electric power only. The now 20 year-old Toyota Prius used this design initially.
HEV, strong or full hybrids
So-called strong or full hybrids are able to use electric assist to boost acceleration on the highway but are still very dependent on the internal combustion engine. Hybrid electric vehicles are powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, which uses energy stored in batteries. The extra power provided by the electric motor may allow for a smaller engine. Full hybrids have more powerful electric motors and larger batteries, which can drive the vehicle on only electric power for short distances and at low speeds. These vehicles have a lead battery for SLI and safety functions and another technology battery for electric traction.
PHEV or plug-in hybrid
The plug-in hybrid carries much bigger batteries than the former classes and the drive train can be structured in various ways. It can run for as many as 50 miles on full electric power or it can run as a conventional car. Some run entirely on electric power delivered from a home charger while others have a small IC engine to recharge the main battery when the vehicle is on the road. These vehicles all use lead technology batteries for the SLI and safety functions and Li-ion batteries for electric traction.
EV, BEV or full-electric vehicles
Entirely independent from IC engines are pure battery electric vehicles, and these vary in driving range and performance based on the size of the battery and therefore price. These vehicles all use lead technology batteries for the SLI and safety functions and Li-ion batteries for electric traction.
Which battery technology for which vehicle?
The key issues surrounding the development and indeed the justification of electric vehicles are emissions and C02 reduction. Electric motors are at least three times as efficient at delivering power to the wheels with minimum heat. To match the performance of IC powered vehicles, on board energy storage must deliver sufficient driving range—this is known as energy density. This can be measured in volume terms – the amount of space batteries take up – (Watt hour per litre) or weight terms (Watt hour per kg).