US study finds life cycle of lead batteries has lower environmental impact
New research tracking the life cycle of lead batteries and lithium iron phosphate batteries in the U.S. concludes that lead batteries have a lower environmental impact.
The goal of the research was to assess the environmental profile of two different batteries used in the automotive sector – the cradle-to-grave environmental impact of a lead-based (Pb) automotive battery and a lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) automotive battery within North America.
The study, a Comparative LCA of Lead and LFP batteries for Automotive Applications by U.S. based consultancy Sphera Solutions, was commissioned by Battery Council International and the International Lead Association. It was designed to better understand the environmental impact of 12V lead-based battery production and promote continuous improvement in the environmental sustainability of lead batteries.
The new analysis found that, overall, lead battery manufacturing has a lower environmental impact compared to a LiB (lithium-ion battery) and LFP battery. The environmental impacts of manufacturing the LFP battery compared to manufacturing the Pb battery are roughly greater by a factor of four.
Most impact categories showed small differences between all batteries assessed, with lead batteries performing better in the baseline scenario due to lower burdens in manufacturing (ranging from 90% to 39% depending on the impact category).
Typically, 99 per cent of lead batteries collected in Europe and the United States are recycled and the materials re-used in new battery production.