L Pugazhenthy, industry veteran and executive director of the India Lead Zinc Development Association, shares a personal reflection on the back-to-back International Secondary Lead Conference (ISLC) and Asian Battery Conference (ABC).
The fact that the global lead battery industry was anxiously awaiting the most popular biannual mega event in Asia was clearly evident from the very large participation. After the scary and deadly COVID-19, when webinars and video conferences became the norm, everyone in the lead industry was eager to join physical events to meet their old acquaintances and meet new friends.
At the ISLC this year, the most talked about lithium-ion battery recycling and its comparison with lead-acid battery recycling was discussed. The inclusion of lithium was an excellent idea on the part of the organisers.
Lead recycling in China, Africa, Japan, Korea, and Fuji were covered. Challenges and future opportunities for lead recycling, new innovative technologies like solvent-based processes, oxygen-rich side-blown smelting, new environmental legislation, hedging financial risks, prevention of take-home lead particles etc., were deliberated.
The concluding session on understanding slag was a novel thought. A working group has been formed for the future to bring about a better understanding of a complex waste like slag coming from the lead recycling plants.
My highlight of the 20th ABC was presenting the International Lead Medal to Dr David Rand, a renowned research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia, where he had a long stint.
David Rand awarded International Lead Medal
Research scientist Dr David Rand was presented with the International Lead Medal for his contribution to the international lead battery industry. He is a “mobile university” and “mobile encyclopaedia” on lead batteries, said L Pugazhenthy, Executive Director of the India Lead Zinc Development Association.
Rand is an honorary research fellow at Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and is chief energy scientist of the World Solar Challenge. Before retiring in 2008, he was CSIRO’s scientific advisor on hydrogen and renewable energy. He spent over 50 years at CSIRO. He was educated as an electrochemist at England’s Cambridge University and received a PhD and ScD.
He co-invented the UltraBattery with Lan Lam in 2005. It is the first lead-based hybrid battery that incorporates a supercapacitor.
ABC deliberations were focused on the Asian market, future opportunities, road map, energy storage systems, EU regulations on environmental management of lead batteries, new separator materials and additives, paste formulation, bipolar batteries, lead carbon batteries, e-rickshaw batteries, next-generation batteries, thin tubular lead battery technology, simulation, extending battery service life, improvements in designs and manufacturing process.
The concluding panel discussion on lead battery technology and performance witnessed very thought-provoking discussions, both by the expert members as well as the conference participants.
Following the global thrust to electric vehicles due to decarbonisation efforts, there will be more and more usage of lithium-ion batteries in the coming years. As a result, recycling technology for these batteries has to be in place when they reach end of life.
Recycling used lead-acid batteries is very well established throughout the world. Therefore, the presentation “Comparison of Recycling Technologies for End-of-Life Lithium-ion and Lead-Acid Batteries” by Dr Nawshad Haque (CSIRO, Australia), Mark Stevenson and Dr David Rand, was very timely and relevant at this event.
It is high time that there are viable, well proven recycling technologies for lithium-ion batteries, ready for commercialisation, because we need recycled lithium in the future for new lithium-ion batteries, due to the very limited natural sources of lithium in the world.
The other presentation “the World’s Most Remote Lead Smelter”, was an eye opener and very informative. It was quite surprising that Fiji has a modern green lead recycling plant, thanks to the excellent work done by Brian Wilson, consultant with the International Lead Association.