energy storage

A global battery consortium charged with advancing lead battery technology has re-launched as it prepares to unveil a raft of new research designed to take the technology to the next level.

The Consortium for Battery Innovation, which includes more than 90 member companies worldwide supporting pre-competitive research into lead battery technology, is preparing for a surge in demand for energy storage in the next decade.

Since it was formed as the ALABC 25 years ago, the Consortium has ushered in major breakthroughs including start-stop batteries – the technology which allows car engines to stop and re-start, reducing CO2 emissions and boosting fuel economy.

Now, the Consortium for Battery Innovation has stepped-up its work by preparing a new technical roadmap designed to extend both the performance and lifetime of the core battery technology.

Cycle life of advanced lead batteries

The programme, which will be unveiled later this year, will fund projects designed to increase the cycle life of advanced lead batteries and further improve their ability to operate in applications such as start-stop and micro-hybrid applications.

Other areas highlighted for future study include in-depth research into the addition of elements such as carbon aimed at extending both lifetime and performance.

One of the Consortium’s ground-breaking studies is already underway in the US in partnership with the Argonne National Laboratory. Read more: The road ahead for lithium-ion batteries

It uses the laboratory’s synchrotron x-ray source to study the chemical changes occurring during charge and discharge reactions in real time, something not previously conducted with lead batteries.

Dr Alistair Davidson, director of the Consortium for Battery Innovation, said: “I expect worldwide demand for energy storage to jump significantly in the next decade. In Europe alone demand is set to jump by up to 10 times by 2050. So advanced lead batteries will be critical to meeting that requirement, which is over and above existing uses such as start-stop batteries and back-up for mobile networks and emergency power.”

Drivers of advanced batteries

According to Dr Davidson, there are many factors driving this demand, including decarbonisation and electrification.

“Excitingly, lead batteries are now becoming more common as energy storage for renewables, such as solar and wind, as local grids and independent electricity systems come on line,” he noted.

Dr Davidson also pointed that cost, recycling, safety and reliability, as well as performance, are all important factors for these systems, which play to the strengths of lead batteries.

“Overall there is of course an ever-present need for better performance and longer lifetime, so our next set of research priorities will amount to a big leap in the technology’s capability to help meet this surge in demand,” he stated.

Dr Davidson further highlighted that the push for greater electrification requires a mix of battery technologies capable of delivering at scale.

“We are working with government research teams and universities in the US and Europe to develop the technology that will usher in the next generation of advanced lead batteries,” he concluded.