America’s Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has announced a new agreement with 14 members of the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) to undertake pre-competitive research to improve performance and longevity of lead batteries.

“Exide Technologies is excited to be a part of this groundbreaking research into the complex chemical interactions that take place inside lead batteries,” Tim Rehg, senior VP, Product and Process Engineering.

For his part, Diptarka Majumdar, Research and Development director, Americas, added: “With this research we expect to gain a more fundamental understanding behind the science of lead acid batteries at the atomic scale to see how lead batteries work as well as the understanding to make better batteries to meet the growing future demands for energy storage worldwide.

“This is one of the few times the lead industry has come together to advance lead technology. Even though lead batteries have been used for over 100 years, there is still much to learn about how we can get even better performance out of lead and the associated materials.”

While lead acid batteries have been a vital part of the energy storage industry for more than 100 years, more needs to be understood about the complex interactions and chemical processes involved in the functioning of a lead acid battery. Though much empirical knowledge of battery operation has been accumulated over the years, a deeper fundamental understanding of the changes occurring in the battery during the processes involved in its manufacturing (eg formation) is needed to improve both performance and life of lead acid batteries.

The North American lead acid battery industry has therefore formed the Lead Battery Research Working Group to develop.

The Working Group has developed a Technical Programme in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory to utilise these resources to develop a basic understanding of the crystal precipitation/dissolution process.

One such capability is Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) which is a synchrotron light source which produces high-energy, high-brightness x-ray beams. By using the APS scientists can observe in real time the chemical transformations at atomic and molecular levels that occur in lead batteries during use.

“This project is very important to the lead battery industry since Argonne has focused much of its attention on lithium-ion and beyond-lithium-ion batteries until now,” noted Rehg. “Lead is still very much a viable chemistry for energy storage technology and now we will have the critical research results to advance lead batteries and applications into the future.”