One of the lead-acid industry’s best friends in the automotive industry told the AABC conference in Mainz last week that in his opinion lithium-ion is a better technology.
But the car player has not entirely given up on its love of lead.
Eckhard Karden, head of battery research at Ford Aachen, said that additives to improve DCA PSOC and “lazy battery syndrome” were not entirely effectives.
“There is no magic black powder which will fix everything. These additives should not increase water loss but they do,” he said.
Lead-acid batteries lazy? Well apparently they are, as they age. Age means increased electrical resistance, which means reduced charge acceptance and less energy.
It seems that under standard steady state water loss test conditions, increasing carbon additives has a detrimental effect on water loss i.e. increased gassing.
However, another revelation at last week’s AABC was that the current water loss test (constant overcharge) is not representative of what happens in the field.
The field test results were provided by a taxi firm in Las Vegas where there are extremes of ambient temperature. The results were a little surprising, there was far less water loss than expected.
This finding prompted a slightly tense debate about the differences in test methods between car OEMs and battery suppliers. They need to be harmonised, said Karden, who made his position clear.
“It is up to the battery manufacturers to provide OEMs with tests which give results that match those of real life. Otherwise we simply do field trials instead.”
Karden listed the technologies now being investigated to keep lead-acid in the game but warned the “mostly lead-acid players in the audience that they had to survive the next three years.
“All the political pressure which being applied to promote lithium-ion is resulting in faster developments from that sector,” he said.
He went further: “A few years ago if we wanted a better battery we could approach another lead-acid company. Now we’ll go to a lithium company instead.”