An evolution of lead-acid batteries?

by Ray Jing   2013-02-07

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A recent technology breakthrough could bring new life to the lead-acid batteries as vehicle manufacturers search for lower-cost solutions to meeting increasingly tougher fuel-economy regulations.

The Energy Power Systems, a U.S.-based startup, said it is developing a new-wave lead-acid battery which is a fraction of the cost of Li-ion but will deliver the power needed in many hybrid applications.

The secret of Energy Power Systems’ battery is its physical design. “We’ve changed the particle size, the morphology of the material, how we make the electrodes, their dimensions and thicknesses (and) how they’re assembled,” said Subhash Dhar, chairman, CEO and founder of the company.

The CEO said the new technology would land in a power rating of 1,900 W/kg, four times the best lead-acid battery on the market.

If all goes well, production will start in the fourth quarter of 2014 and be ramped up in early 2015 for aftermarket, conversion-vehicle, stationary and commercial-vehicle applications.

The breakthrough could mean a dramatic change to the dynamic growth of lead-acid battery-powered low-speed electric cars which are prevailing in certain regions in China.

There has been prejudice against lead-acid batteries and low-speed EVs in China because of the pollution accusation.

But lead-acid batteries per se are not polluting but promising, said Yang Yusheng, academician from the Chinese Academy of Engineering at an industry forum.

Lead-acid batteries will not cause pollution if their production process could be well controlled and managed, said Yang, adding that the safer and cheaper lead-acid batteries should be prioritized in the development of EVs, especially low-speed EVs.

Yang argued that lead-acid batteries are becoming more promising as new technological breakthroughs have been made in this field in foreign countries, but China lags behind in this technology renovation due to lack of government support.

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