Lithium replaced with lead in ALABC/Missouri University project

Scientists at the University of Missouri Science and Technology are to work with the ALABC — the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium — to replace lithium-ion batteries with lead-acid in a project that begins in October.

The project aims to create a solar-powered EcoVillage microgrid to power six homes on the university campus in Rolla, Missouri, using solar panels with lead battery energy storage units. In past projects, Missouri S&T has used lithium batteries.

Initial project planning took place at a meeting between the Missouri Department of Economic Development Division of Energy, the Missouri Public Utilities Alliance, and ALABC members Ameren, Doe Run, NorthStar, Exide and Enersys.

“The quantity of batteries will depend on things such as the depth of discharge, length of time we want the village to be able to operate when islanded from the main power grid and the actual power requirements for all of the homes,” Angie Rolufs, a project engineer for the S&T Microgrid Industrial Consortium, told BESB.

“From an ALABC point of view, this project is expected to highlight how lead batteries are the right choice in this type of application as we believe that they provide an excellent energy storage option for the project,” said Alistair Davidson, technical director for the International Lead Association which runs the ALABC.

The lessons learnt about the performance of lead batteries in the project will be available to all the ALABC 70+ member companies globally, with the potential to help determine the future direction of research and development, according to Doe Run.

The project is in line with the ALABC’s recently announced technical communications programme. This has already been put into action during a visit to China, where many of the Chinese big hitters in lead acid met to discuss sharing technical information.

The ALABC has also begun working with automotive OEMs and lead battery makers in a collaborative programme to push the development of the next generation of energy storage systems that will be advanced enough to meet the needs of micro hybrids which are due to come onto the market within two years.

European standardization committee CENELEC, Aachen University battery chair professor Dirk Uwe Sauer, and Ford’s European research centre all joined a technical workshop in Germany, where more than 70 professionals discussed the need for better charging performance and high-temperature durability in lead batteries.

Members of the meeting agreed that the consortium would work more closely with car manufacturers to standardize testing as well as push technical development.

“The test standardization includes harmonizing methods for determining water loss, dynamic charge acceptance, and start-stop cycle durability — the key feature which has made micro hybrids the most successful electrified cars, accounting for more than 60% of the European car fleet,” said Davidson.