For the first time ever in a public arena, a leading figure in lead-acid R&D has admitted that lithium-ion technology is no longer just a challenge to lead in its traditional markets but a real threat.
The comments came last week at the Metals Bulletin 8th world lead conference in Amsterdam as Norbert Maleschitz, VP of R&D in Exide Europe addressed an audience of lead producers and traders.
Because of the rapid uptake of microhybrid technology in Europe’s car population, lead acid could see a 5% drop in expected vehicle market share by 2020.
Then there could be an even sharper 17% loss by 2025 as microhybrid cars dominate, offer much more than simple stop-start functionality and move to 48 volt lithium technology.
Maleschitz was also concerned about the lack of lead-acid take up in stationary energy storage systems— a fact made even clearer by Julia Badeda of ISEA-RWTH Aachen University who showed that nearly 95% of home energy storage installations in Germany were based on lithium battery technology.
Alistair Davidson of the International Lead Association explained the organisation’s new role would be to manage the long standing Advanced Lead acid Battery Consortium and that the main focus would be improving dynamic charge acceptance— the Achilles heel of lead acid’s features.
When asked how many researchers might be focused in dealing with the problem, Dr Davis was unable to provide an answer.
However, Dr Steve Clarke, who presented his company’s Aquametals lead recovery technology remarked the organisation would be outnumbered at least 1000-1 in researchers.