Lead acid battery advantages and disadvantages
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Lead acid battery advantages and disadvantages

It is true to say that batteries are one of the major innovations which have combined with other technologies to shape the modern industrial world. Despite the plethora of chemistries and applications, it is the lead acid chemistry which is still, after 161 years since its invention, the most prolific provider of stored energy on the planet. The lead acid battery is an electrochemical storage device and as such has the same principle of providing an electric current and voltage as all other electrochemical batteries, some of which preceded the adoption of lead acid as a method of storing and delivering electricity. However, it was the first battery which was rechargeable. 

Lead acid battery advantages and disadvantages

What are the advantages of Lead acid battery?

  • Many of the teething problems in any new technology have been resolved many decades ago.
  • Robust and predictable battery technology as at present
  • Over the years, lead-acid battery technology has evolved very significantly, albeit at a slow rate. Starting from wooden separators to synthetic separators to invention of lignin from wood as an additive for negative plates are major breakthroughs in the evolution of Lead-acid battery.
  • In the 1960s came Sonnenschein‘s gel battery. Unfortunately, this invention was apparently ahead of its time and was not received with the attention it deserved at that time; but has revived many decades later & today gel battery is one of the best battery technology for storage power

Benefits of lead acid battery

  • Then came low antimony in grids to reduce water loss, use of selenium as grain refiner in alloys, corrosion-resistant alloys.
  • Introduction of lead-calcium alloys which made maintenance-free batteries possible. It was also the forerunner for VRLA-AGM designs.
  • Recently, the efforts of ALABC (ADVANCED LEAD-ACID BATTERY CONSORTIUM today called the CBI – Consortium for Battery Innovation) constituted in the 90s enlarged and quickened the pace of research especially for Electric [ BEV] and hybrid electric vehicles [HEV]. This was a challenging job. Research efforts of many manufacturers and research organizations worldwide were pooled. (A cooperative research with no overlap of efforts). The favourite technology at that time was Nickel-metal hydride for EV’s
  • The Ultra-battery which has a conventional battery with a super capacitor to give a high current discharge for seconds made the re-entry of the lead-acid battery into EV applications possible. The present CBI organization continues these research efforts.
  • The comparatively humble battery- the ENHANCED FLOODED BATTERY (EFB) was introduced much later following mandates of Governments of European countries (EU), Japan to reduce pollution levels.
    EFB needs the attention of Indian battery manufacturers to improve the life and performance of batteries being currently made. In particular, automotive batteries will improve beyond their expectations. Introducing some of the features of EFB in existing batteries will yield significant dividends in terms of performance and life.

Disadvantages of lead acid battery

  • The short life of the LAB in some applications is a serious bottleneck. This is caused by many factors like sulfation, plate shedding or loosening of active material, grid corrosion and stratification of electrolyte. There are remedies available for every issue. These need to be implemented. The cost impact is inevitable but necessary for survival in the competitive market in the long run.
  • Lead Battery is heavy due to the high atomic mass of Lead. (207 in contrast to Lithium 6.9)
  • Slow charging due to inherent chemistry.
  • Cycle life is low compared to Li-ion and other chemistries
Fig 1 breakdown of battery sales by type and MWh lead acid battery advantages and disadvantages

Why use lead acid battery?

Lead acid battery has proven its dependable performance over the last 160 years. It is now a mature technology and has overcome several hiccups any new technology faces in the initial years. It is robust, performs well in spite of its lower energy density compared to lithium ion. It does not have the safety issues associated with newer technologies like lithium ion. It does not require a battery management system to keep it safe from catching fire. Lead batteries will continue to improve in terms of performance. For example Bipolar batteries, nano carbon additives in lead acid battery that give it better charge acceptance.

Lead acid batteries are the most recycled commodity in the world. Abundant lead supply and surprisingly more recycled than mined lead is made available due to efficient recovery from a spent lead acid battery. Almost 97 per cent of the lead acid battery is completely recovered. A battery manufacturer will pay you to take the spent battery back from you. While a lithium ion battery manufacturer will collect money from you to recycle the battery. There is yet no commercially viable options available for recovering the almost 27 chemicals present inside a lithium ion battery

Lead is green and environment friendly. It has one of the most efficient and long established recycling processes. It is the most recycled commodity in the world!

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