A new European research collaboration between two academic institutes will use tailor-made carbons and utilise advanced physical and electrochemical techniques to study key performance indicators for lead battery technology.

The partnership between the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (Fraunhofer ISC) and Wroclaw University of Science and Technology (WUST), has been facilitated by the (Consortium for Battery InnovationCBI), a research hub dedicated to advanced lead battery technology.

"Responding to market demand from the automotive sector, this new research project is building on collaborative workshops organised by the Consortium in partnership with OEMs and car companies over the last few years," said CBI director, Alistair Davidson.

"It's one of a new set of projects aiming to enhance the performance of lead batteries to meet the technical requirements of start-stop and micro-hybrid vehicles."

The two-year project involves Fraunhofer ISC, a long-standing partner of the Consortium and one of the leading Bavarian centres for material-based research and development in the fields of energy, environment and health, as well as WUST, one of Poland's technical universities.

The research project will explore the fundamental properties of carbon additives with focus on surface functional groups and the effect they have on lead battery performance. Specifically, it will look at the impact on key performance indicators in lead batteries:

  • Cold cranking amperage (CCA): The high discharge pulse power responsible for starting a car, rated at -18 °C for 30 seconds
  • Dynamic charge acceptance (DCA): The ability of a battery to accept instantaneous energy during charging
  • Hydrogen evolution reaction (HER): The side reaction occurring on a negative electrode surface, which accelerates the electrolyte loss

Studies of these three performance indicators will use screening techniques combined with tailor-made carbons to examine how carbon chemistry interacts with lead and other common additives.

Carbons are a popular additive for enhancing battery performance and the project is building on existing research by using techniques to conduct in-depth exploration of additive effects.  

This knowledge is essential for improving the DCA of lead batteries and increasing their uptake in start-stop, micro and mild-hybrid applications.

CBI's technical roadmap has identified improving DCA performance as one of the vital research goals essential to continuing advancements in lead battery technology for both energy storage and automotive applications.