A New Roadmap for Advanced Lead Batteries

Date: Mar 13, 2019

Last week, members of the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) gathered in Shanghai to chat about rare earth alloys, obscure methods of lead recycling, and the future of energy storage. The engineers, industrialists, and academic scientists who made up the 120-odd attendees at the technical workshop are at the center of a global search for technology that could mitigate the effects of climate change.

At the CBI’s two-day workshop, the group mapped out a plan to develop a new generation of lead batteries. In terms of dollars per kilowatt-hour of energy, lead batteries are already the most cost-effective energy storage system available. And unlike alternative types of storage, lead batteries are fully recyclable, allowing for minimal waste from their usage.

Still, lead batteries have a significant weakness: they are vulnerable to various types of physical failure, from corrosion to overheating to internal short-circuiting, all of which result from frequent usage.

In Shanghai, the conversation repeatedly returned to the growing demand for reliable grid-scale storage in the push toward renewable energy sources. Alistair Davidson, Director of CBI, predicts that the renewables market “will evolve from short-term energy storage to stabilise the network with the increased use of renewables, to longer term storage to fully exploit intermittent sources such as wind and solar.”

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