The International Lead Association (ILA) has welcomed a new study by Europe’s automotive and battery industry which concludes that lead-based batteries will by necessity remain the most widespread energy storage system in automotive applications for the foreseeable future.
The study, A Review of Battery Technologies for Automotive Applications, comes at a time when ILA is working on behalf of the lead industry to maintain the exemption for lead-based batteries within the EU End of Life Vehicle Directive’s wider ban on lead in light-duty vehicles, due for review in 2015.
ILA Managing Director, Dr Andy Bush, said: “This study highlights the technological and socio-economic advantages of lead-based batteries to power a vehicle’s starter motor, lights, and ignition system.
“ILA believes that the conclusions of the study will considerably strengthen the case for the continued use of lead-based batteries in automobiles as a reliable, cost effective, safe, and fully recyclable energy storage solution.”
The study concluded that 12V lead-based batteries are the only battery technology tested for the mass market that satisfies the technical requirements of conventional vehicles (including start-stop and basic micro-hybrid vehicles) and that it is not possible to replace one battery technology by another without impacting the overall performance and vehicle cost.
It also confirmed that lead-based batteries are essential in providing energy storage solutions, not just for conventional, start-stop and micro-hybrid vehicles, but also for plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles working alongside other battery technologies.
Among the advantages of lead-based batteries are their low cost and unparalleled ability to start the engine at cold temperatures in conventional and micro-hybrid vehicles plus their use as auxiliary batteries in all other automotive applications.
The report also advocates that where substitution between battery technologies is possible, this should be left to the manufacturers of applications, so they can chose the most suited batteries for their products. The EU’s legislative and regulatory framework should also guarantee a fair and technology-neutral competition between battery technologies.
The study, A Review of Battery Technologies for Automotive Applications, reached its conclusions on the continued application of existing battery technologies using the combined input of EUROBAT, representing Europe’s automotive battery industry, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), the automobile manufacturers’ associations of Japan (JAMA) and South Korea (KAMA), as well as contributions from the International Lead Association.
Notes to editors
The study assessed in depth the performance profiles of the automobile battery technologies currently in use:
1. Conventional vehicles, including start-stop and basic micro-hybrid vehicles are equipped with a 12V lead-based battery, which is required to start the engine and supply the complete electrical system, and can also be expected to provide start-stop functionality, as well as the entry class of braking recuperation and passive boosting.
Due to their excellent cold-cranking ability, durability and low cost, 12V lead-based batteries remain the only battery technology tested for the mass market that satisfies the technical requirements for these vehicles. This is expected to be the situation for the foreseeable future.
2. Hybrid vehicles, including advanced micro-hybrid, mild-hybrid and full-hybrid vehicles rely on the battery to play a more active role, with the energy stored from braking used to boost the vehicle’s acceleration. In full-hybrid vehicles, the stored energy is also used for a certain range of electric driving.
Several battery technologies are able to provide these functions in different combinations, with nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries coping best as requirements increase, due to their fast recharge, good discharge performance and life endurance. At high voltages, lead-based batteries are so far limited by their more modest recharge and discharge power and capacity turnover.
3. In plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles, high voltage battery systems (up to 100kWh for commercial vehicles) are installed to provide significant levels of electric propulsion.
Lithium-ion battery systems remain the only commercially available battery technology capable of meeting requirement for passenger cars according to EV driving range and time, due to their high energy density, low weight, good recharge capability and energy efficiency. Other battery technologies (nickel-metal hydride, lead-based etc.) cannot deliver the required level of performance for these applications at a competitive weight.
For commercial applications, harsh environments and heavy duty vehicles, high-temperature sodium nickel chloride batteries are a competitive option
All hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles also utilise a second electrical system on 12V level for controls, comfort features, redundancy and safety features. This electrical system is in all cases supplied by a 12V lead-based battery.
ILA is a membership body that supports companies involved in the mining, smelting, refining and recycling of lead. The ILA represents the producers of about 3 million tonnes of lead. ILA’s work has a broad focus, covering all aspects of the industry’s safe production, use and recycling of lead.
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