Exide Joins Lead Industry Leaders to Support Advanced Research

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory recently announced a new agreement with 14 members of the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) to do pre-competitive research using Argonne’s most advanced tools, techniques and capabilities to help improve the 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.

“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,” said Diptarka Majumdar, Research & Development Director, Americas.

It is significant that the lead battery industry is collaborating in this research.

“This is one of the few times the lead industry has come together to advance lead technology,” said Majumdar. “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 over 100 years, a lot 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 (e.g. 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 this fundamental understanding.  The Group’s objective is to build a foundation of knowledge upon which, individual battery companies can further enhance the performance of their lead acid technologies.

You may wonder why this research has never been done before now. The most significant impediment to developing this fundamental understanding has historically been the inability to monitor these reactions within the battery as it is in operation (i.e. “in situ” and “operando”). Over the past few years, many resources, both human and hardware, have been developed in the US national laboratory system to conduct in situ/operando process studies/analyses. The Working Group has developed a Technical Program in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory to utilize 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 that 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,” said 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.”

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