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  • Writer's pictureNick Fleming

Lead Battery Science Research Program

The Lead Battery Science Research Program (LBSRP) is a pre-competitive research consortium, consisting of lead-acid battery manufacturers and industry suppliers representing more than 90% of the North American lead battery industry. LBSRP members include;

· Clarios

· Crown Battery

· Doe Run Company

· Exide Batteries

· East Penn Manufacturing

· EnerSys/NorthStar Battery

· RSR Technologies

· Trojan Battery Company

· Advanced Battery Concepts

· Borregaard Lignotech

· Cabot

· Gridtential

· Microporous

· Superior Graphite

· Teck Metals

The LBSRP conducts research work at the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement managed Electric Applications Incorporated. The resources of the national laboratory system provide the capability to perform basic and applied research into the electrochemical processes inherent in operation of a lead battery, that is beyond the capability and the resources of any single lead battery manufacturer. A better understanding of these processes will ultimately provide the consortium’s members the pre-competitive scientific insights to help make significant product improvements in key performance areas such as Cycle Life, Partial State of Charge Cycling and Dynamic Charge Acceptance.

In the second year of a three year program, LBSRP research work is conducted at ANL by its Chemical Sciences and Engineering division (CSE) and by its Material Sciences division (MSD).

Research work by the CSE division at ANL is led by Principal Investigator Tim Fister and utilizes the ANL Advanced Photon Source (APS). The APS is a national synchrotron-radiation light source research facility funded by the United States Department of Energy Office of Science. Using high-brilliance X-ray beams from the APS it has been possible to study the precipitation and dissolution of lead sulfate crystals on working Plante negative electrodes. Recent work has progressed to more complex pasted electrodes; by utilizing a small specifically designed lead-acid test cell it has been possible to study the in-operando phase and crystallographic changes on both electrodes during formation and subsequent cycling.

The APS provides a unique capability to trace the electrochemical reactions in an operating lead battery cell, providing insights into parameter affecting battery operation that have never before been visible in a working cell. Additional advanced techniques, such as tomography, are also being successfully applied to study lead-acid working electrodes. Research work by the MSD division at ANL is led by Principal Investigator Vojislav Stamenkovic exploring the basic science of lead battery operation using the Advanced Materials Laboratory at ANL. Under the laboratory direction of Pietro Papa Lopes, MSD experimental work has focused on cyclic voltammetry and in-situ ICP testing of very high purity Plante negatives and the influence of additives to the negative electrode active materials. Recent work is investigating the role of carbon in the negative electrode by studying the electrochemical processes on glassy carbon electrodes.

Consortium member scientists and engineers regularly meet to review and debate technical progress, agree on significant findings and provide future direction for the research program. This level of pre-competitive technical co-operation between companies competing in the marketplace has been critical to the success of the LBSRP. Future research performed by the LBSRP will build on this pre-competitive cooperation and will focus on developing a fundamental understanding of lead battery electrochemical processes under a range of operating conditions and influences from various additives. Mathematical modelling of these processes will ultimately provide design tools for LBSRP members to improve the design and operation of their battery products.

- Donald Karner, President, Electric Applications Incorporated

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