The Humble Battery Sparks a Success Story
The flourishing future of the humble lead-acid battery is electrifying industry insiders, according to David Wilson, Director of the respected International Lead Association.
Seven hundred delegates at the recent bi-annual European Lead Acid Battery Conference in Istanbul heard speaker after speaker detail the developments and market trends that will ensure the lead-acid battery stays at the cutting edge of automotive production for years to come.
It is in emerging economies such as China and India, where car ownership averages just 25 vehicles per 1,000 head of population — in America it’s 820 per 1,000 — that the biggest potential lies.
“China has become the largest car manufacturer in the world and a huge proportion of its production is going to the domestic population,” said Dr Wilson.
“Couple that with the fact that China and India have the biggest populations in the world and the potential for the lead-acid battery industry is absolutely astronomical.”
Over the last 20 years, China has emerged as the world’s largest producer of lead producing nearly four million tonnes a year, more than three times that of its nearest rival, the USA.
Delegates also heard that although beefed-up lead-acid batteries are widely in use in “micro-hybrid” cars such as new BMWs, which have a “stop-start” system that
cuts out the engine when the vehicle is at rest and starts it again when the accelerator is pressed, the Holy Grail remains the full hybrid vehicle.
Currently, hybrid cars such as those made by Toyota and Honda use nickel metal-hydride batteries to power their electric motors, but these are not suitable for starting the internal combustion engine or running the vehicle’s electrical systems. This means they also have to have a lead-acid battery.
Dr Wilson said the industry had commissioned tests in which lead-acid batteries were used to power a hybrid car and which had proved highly successful but, as yet, the technology has not been “commercialised.”
He said: “The advantage that lead-acid batteries have over nickel metal-hydride ones, as far as manufacturers are concerned, is that they are considerably cheaper and we have now proved that they can be just as efficient. And, of course, a lead-acid battery is 100 per cent recyclable.”
Of the nine million tonnes of lead produced globally every year, 85 per cent of it is used in the manufacture of lead-acid batteries, with China as the largest battery maker.
“I think everyone left the conference with the feeling that the future is looking very positive,” said Dr Wilson. “It was an extremely successful event and I think that was reflected in the number of people who attended. We hold the conference every two years and normally we would expect around 450. To get 700 is a clear demonstration of the health of the industry.”
For more information contact: Dianne Nott Tel: +44 1565 652074
Mob: +44 7860 272 754 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Andrew Leatham
Tel: +44 1204 81105 Mob: 07908 657 154 E-mail: email@example.com