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Lead batteries blamed for increased blood lead levels in 632M children from LMIC countries

Fri, 01/07/2022 - 12:36 -- Paul Crompton

Informal lead-acid battery recycling and manufacturing remains a contributory factor for children’s elevated blood lead levels in emerging countries around the world.

The findings were published by Lancet Planet Health following an investigation into the leading sources of lead exposure to people living in 49 developing countries. 

An estimated 632 million children in low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC) are estimated to have a blood lead level exceeding 5 μg/dL; and 413 million were estimated to exceed the previous reference value of 10 μg/dL.

Last October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its blood lead reference value (BLRV) from 5 µg/dL to 3.5 µg/dL in response to the Lead Exposure Prevention and Advisory Committee (LEPAC) recommendation made on May 14, 2021. 

The Lancet report stated: “Given the toxicity of lead, even at low amounts of exposure, urgent attention is required to control exposures and to expand population-based sampling in countries with no or scant data. 

“Major sources of lead exposure were informal lead acid battery recycling and manufacture, metal mining and processing, electronic waste, and the use of lead as a food adulterant, primarily in spices.”

In Mexico, lead-based ceramic glazes were a significant source of exposure, stated the report.

Lead exposure in LMICs

According to Lancet, reports have suggested that lead exposure remains substantial or is increasing in some LMICs but few studies have attempted to systematically assess blood lead levels over the full range. 

Data on blood lead level were extracted and pooled, as appropriate, to make country-specific estimates of the distribution of background blood lead levels among children and adults, along with information on specific sources of exposure where available. 

The researchers searched the PubMed database for the 137 countries in the World bank LMIC grouping.

The search yielded 12,695 studies (between 2010 and 2019). There were 520 unique studies included (1,100 sampled populations from 49 countries comprising more than 1 million individuals). 

Pooled mean blood lead concentrations in children ranged from 1·66 μg/dL in Ethiopia to 9·30 μg/dL in Palestine; in adults the range went from 0·39 μg/dL in Sudan to 11·36 μg/dL in Pakistan. 

Historical causes of exposure

The report noted the greatest historical source of lead exposure was the use of tetraethyl lead as an anti-knocking agent in petrol, which resulted in the dispersion of at least nine million tonnes of lead into the environment.

The global phase-out of leaded petrol began in the US during 1975, and was progressively adopted by high-income countries (HICs) in the 1980s and 1990s.

As a result, the average level of lead in the blood for people aged 1–74 years in the US decreased by 78%, from 12·8 μg/dL to 2·8 μg/dL; similar decreases were noted in other HICs such as Sweden and Germany between 1976 and 1991.

Phase-outs were slow to be adopted in LMICs, but by the end of 2005 nearly all had eliminated use of leaded petrol in automobiles.

Image: Pooled mean background blood lead levels in children in 34 low-income and middle-income countries with available data 

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Lead-acid battery replacement market growth spurs lithium-ion firm ABS to triple in size

Fri, 11/19/2021 - 09:42 -- Paul Crompton

Lithium-ion battery maker American Battery Solutions is tripling the size of its Innovation Center in Michigan, US, and adding to its team of battery professionals. 

The company is expanding the size of its facility from 40,000 sq. feet to 115,000 sq. feet and added 75 engineering, test and research jobs to support both internal product development and custom battery pack contracts.

Financial details of the expansion were undisclosed.

The new areas will house additional engineering test laboratories, a hardware-in-the-Loop BMS development laboratory, and a prototype battery pack assembly line to complement the existing module prototype line. 

The expansion will be followed later this year with the introduction of its Industrial Series batteries, which are designed as drop-in replacements for lead-acid batteries in motive power applications such as utility vehicles, floor cleaning machines, pallet jacks and mobile elevated work platforms.

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Battery maker Systems Sunlight hires new CEO and president for US subsidiary

Mon, 10/18/2021 - 14:37 -- Paul Crompton

Greek lead-acid and lithium-ion battery maker Systems Sunlight has appointed Todd Sechrist as CEO and president of the Greek firm’s US business. 

Sechrist, who has been a board member for Sunlight for 11 years, has also become a member of the Sunlight Batteries USA’s executive committee.

He joins the company from warehouse material handling firm Pengate Handling Systems, where he held the dual position of president and CEO.

Sechrist— the former president-Americas and COO at lead battery firm Enersys— began the role at the company’s subsidiary Sunlight Batteries USA on 18 October.

Systems Sunlight established the US subsidiary in 2019, and began assembling and distributing lead and lithium batteries for industrial electric vehicles (EVs) from its manufacturing plant in Greensboro, North Carolina, last year.

The firm is in the process of tripling capacity at its Greensboro plant with the addition of advanced machinery and equipment for the assembly of complete lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries by Q1, next year.

Last month, Sunlight announced it would invest an additional €50 million ($59 million) into its US and European plants to increase lead-acid and lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

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Battery separator firm Entek build new facility as it continues expansion plans

Wed, 10/13/2021 - 15:45 -- Paul Crompton

Entek Manufacturing has opened a new US manufacturing and engineering facility as part of the lead-acid and lithium-ion separator firm’s expansion.

The 98,000 square foot building in Henderson, Nevada, will be home to the wear parts production, fabrication and assembly, and engineering sectors of the business.

The expansion is to “better meet the needs of customers’ growing businesses”.

Kimberly Medford, the company’s president, said Entek was investing more than $10 million in new equipment for the Nevada facility and would begin interviewing and hiring new staff immediately.  

Entek chose Nevada for the new facility because it is a growing area of the country with a strong labour market.

Medford said: “We used an outside firm to do a multi-city survey, and the greater Las Vegas metro area came out first when it came to the availability of skilled labour such as machinists and engineers.

“It’s a good location for us, and not far from our headquarters in Oregon.” 

Last month, Entek International completed the acquisition of the majority stake of Japanese Nippon Sheet Glass’ (NSG) lead-acid battery separator business.

Read more about the deal and Entek’s expansion goals in the latest edition of BEST HERE

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Hammond wins BCI innovation award for its lead battery-boosting additive

Fri, 10/01/2021 - 09:29 -- Paul Crompton

Lead-acid additives firm Hammond Group has been awarded the 2021 BCI Innovation Award— the second time the US company has scooped the industry title. 

The award was presented to Hammond’s for its patent-pending lead silicate innovation, which enables batteries to achieve the benefits of reduced acid stratification without any of the downsides inherent to traditional solutions. 

The additive integrates with the lead oxide plate structure significantly increasing surface area. 

These “micro-sponges” trap the acid electrolyte and slow its release during charging. By reducing the rate of electrolyte outflow, the acid density gradient is minimised.

Battery Council International (BCI) presents the annual award to celebrate innovation in equipment, processes, services and products that advance the lead battery industry. 

The award was established in 2016 to honour industry thought leader, Sally Breidegam Miksiewicz, former CEO of East Penn Manufacturing Co. 

The Indiana, US-based company specialises in manufacturing technically-supported battery oxides, read leads, expanders and other specialty chemicals.

Terrence Murphy, chief executive officer of Hammond, said: “Hammond is honoured to again be recognised for its commitment to the lead battery industry and our commitment to enhancing this technology for advanced energy storage.

“We’re committed to this industry as a specialty chemical company and look forward to continuing to work with [the industry] in our combined efforts to continue to improve the most sustainable energy storage technology on the planet — lead batteries." 

Battery Council International received eight submissions for the Innovation Award

Roger Miksad, executive vice president of BCI, said: "We continue to be impressed with the innovations companies are creating to move the lead battery industry forward and we are eager to see the impact these advancements will have."

Abertax received an honourable mention for their submission.

Hammond first won the inaugural award in 2016 for its innovation and technical breakthrough that improves lead-acid battery charge acceptance and cycle life.

You can read BEST’s exclusive interview with Terry Murphy HERE

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Birla Carbon enters the storage market with carbon black for lithium-ion and lead batteries

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 13:21 -- Paul Crompton

Carbon black manufacturer Birla Carbon has announced its entry into the energy storage systems market with a portfolio of conductive carbons for the lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries.

The portfolio of conductive carbons is designed to enable customisation in formulation and performance in a variety of segments, including automotive, telecoms, motive power, energy storage systems, and e-bikes.

Birla says its Conductex e product portfolio will help increase charge acceptance, cold cranking power, cycle life, gassing and water loss and disperibility in lead batteries.

The firm sees the ideal applications in start-stop micro-hybrid EFB or VRLA applications, SLI and enhanced flooded batteries, e-bikes, energy storage systems and deep cycle operations in e-bikes.

The products leverage the firm’s Ultra process to ensure purity and conductivity, enabling increased charge acceptance, particularly under partial state-of-charge operation.

Birla says its engineered conductive carbon additives can unlock “5-15% energy savings” in lead batteries. 

Dr. Ann Schoeb (pictured), chief R&D officer and business head, Energy Systems, Birla Carbon, said: “As we deepen our focus on innovation and an innovation-driven culture, Birla Carbon has achieved remarkable success in enhancing the contribution of carbons to advanced battery applications.” 

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Gelion partners with lead battery makers to build zinc-bromine ESSs for Australian market

Mon, 09/20/2021 - 14:17 -- Paul Crompton

Renewable-energy storage firm Gelion Technologies and lead-acid battery maker Battery Energy Power Solutions will partner to manufacture and commercialise non-flow zinc-bromide systems in Australia.

The partnership represents the next stage of commercialisation for Gelion. With the stationary batteries due to be deployed in production trials next year ahead of commercial availability.

Battery Energy will provide manufacturing scale-up of Gelion’s Endure battery at its site in Sydney, Australia.

Gelion was founded in 2015 by professor Thomas Maschmeyer as a spin-out from the University of Sydney.

The Endure energy storage system (ESS) is suitable for irrigation, water purification and desalination systems, remote communities, mining facilities and agriculture.

The ESS can be completely discharged and recharged with no loss of function. 

Gelion Technologies’ CEO Andrew Grimes said: “Our vision is to play a leading role in the transition to clean energy across the globe. The partnership is both an environmental and business breakthrough – and a win for local manufacturing, given Australian know-how often goes overseas for production.

“In the coming months, we will be focused on demonstrating our next-generation battery systems in-field in Australia, commencing later this year.”

According to Wood Mackenzie’s ‘Global Energy Storage Outlook H1 2021’, total overall investment in the grid connected energy storage market could be up to $86 billion globally by 2025, with Australia representing 8% of global energy storage investment.

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Sunlight investment to expand lead and lithium-ion battery production in Europe and US

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 08:47 -- Paul Crompton
Sunlight lead-acid lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant

Battery maker Sunlight will invest an additional €50 million ($59 million) into its US and European plants to increase lead-acid and lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

The Greek firm will invest €30 million ($35.5 million) to increase production of motive power lead-acid flooded products at its plant in Xanthi, northeastern Greece, from 4GWh to 5.3GWh up to Q3 next year.

This investment will include the expansion of existing infrastructure with automated, state-of-the-art machinery in the battery plant. 

The remaining €20 million ($24 million) is being invested to expand its lithium-ion battery assembly plants in Verona, Italy, and North Carolina, US.

Those plants will install three automated assembly lines for lithium modules and complete lithium battery systems, as well as one assembly line for prototyping and R&D purposes.

This investment is part of the company’s goal to offer integrated lithium products for off-road mobility, industrial use, and energy storage applications. 

Production is anticipated to begin by Q3 next year and deliver 1.7GWh of manufacturing capacity a year, while additional space reserved with the potential to increase capacity up to 4GWh.

This latest investment brings Sunlight’s total committed CAPEX spend for 2021-2023 to €180 million ($213 million), with €150million ($170 million) committed to the expansion of lithium production. 

Sunlight’s CEO Lampros Bisalas said: "The investment is already under implementation, and we’re excited for the new, state-of-the art machinery to be installed and further expand our capabilities.

“We’re keen to meet both current and future demands in the off-road mobility and RES energy storage, by scaling up capacity and rendering our Xanthi industrial park a true gigafactory.”

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Entek completes NSG deal to open door to offer PE, AGM and lithium-in battery separators

Mon, 09/06/2021 - 15:40 -- Paul Crompton

Battery separator company Entek International completed the acquisition of a Japanese lead-acid battery separator firm.

Entek finalised the purchase of the majority stake in Nippon Sheet Glass’ (NSG) lead-acid battery separator business on 1 September.

The deal was first announced in May when both companies executed the relevant agreements and had to await approval by the laws and regulations in the relevant jurisdictions, including NSG’ home country Japan.

Larry Keith, CEO of Entek International, said the acquisition was an “important milestone” in the growth and evolution of the company’s global business.

The combination of manufacturing footprints and product portfolios will enable Entek to support customers around the world and produce all three primary separator technologies­­— polyethylene (PE) separator and absorbent glass mat (AGM), and lithium-ion separators— for the global energy storage industry.  

The transaction included all NSG's lead-battery separator manufacturing facilities in Japan and China for both AGM and PE

The investment provides Entek with the capacity and expanded product offerings to meet broader customer demands as well as enabling entry into new markets.

The acquisition is one of many strategic initiatives underway by the US firm, others include the expansion of the Indonesian manufacturing site, investment in specialty films at the Oregon campus, expansion of its equipment division and collaboration and investment at the Britishvolt gigafactory site in the UK.

You can read more about the deal in the latest edition of BEST magazine, available here

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Showa Denko to sell lead-battery business interests for $540m

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 09:55 -- Paul Crompton
Showa Denko headquarters

Battery maker Showa Denko is set to sell its underperforming lead-acid operations for a reported 60 billion yen ($540 million). 

The Japanese firm sold its interests in the lead-acid battery market to investment firm Sustainable Battery Solutions, which is operated by Sustainable Battery Holdings (whose largest shareholders are the investment fund Advantage Partners and financial services company Tokyo Century), according to news outlet Nikkei Asia.

Lead battery firms CSB Energy Technology and Thai Energy Storage Technology Public Company are part of a wider company split and incorporation of a new operating company called Energy Storage Devices Spin-Off Preparation.

The transaction will be concluded on the condition that SBS obtains the clearances and licenses necessary under the domestic and international competition laws and other laws and regulations. 

Showa Denko Materials, the consolidated subsidiary of Showa Denko, shall be the splitting company and new company will be the successor company when the split happens this December.

The moves comes as Showa Denko announced it will record an extraordinary loss of about 30 billion yen ($270 million) for the first half of the year. 

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