Argonne National Laboratory

Lead-acid battery companies join forces with Argonne National Laboratory to enhance battery performance

September 1, 2016

Exploring the unrealized potential of lead batteries is the goal of a new collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and two leading lead recycling and lead battery manufacturing companies, RSR Technologies and East Penn Manufacturing.

The collaboration will enable RSR and East Penn to use Argonne's state-of-the-art analytic technologies to accelerate the research of lead batteries in order to enhance performance.

Tests undertaken will investigate the fundamental transport processes in lead batteries using a variety of characterization techniques available at Argonne. Scientists at Argonne who will work on the project have extensive experience in synchrotron X-ray techniques, in particular for characterizing materials under controlled electrochemical conditions.

"We've known for years that the core limitation is the utilization of lead inside the batteries. Lead-based technology has significant unused performance potential that can be tapped by improving active material utilization inside the battery," said Timothy Ellis, president of RSR Technologies in Dallas, Tex. "The lead battery industry has not had enough access to the right analytic tools to thoroughly investigate this phenomenon. This new collaboration will enable us to use Argonne's technical facilities, so that we hopefully will uncover what has been unknown for many years."

The companies have joined forces with the Argonne Center for Collaborative Energy Storage Science (ACCESS) in a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). Work began this month and will run over two phases for 18 months. It will involve the fabrication of model electrodes and the utilization of high-energy X-ray techniques, high-resolution three-dimensional imaging and other technologies to unlock the mysteries of the materials science that underpins lead-based technology.

"This is an exciting opportunity to work in partnership with a National Laboratory of Argonne's reputation and caliber. A deeper understanding of this essential battery technology will help us improve it beyond the significant advancements that have already been made," said Bob Flicker, COO of East Penn. "We look forward to discovering new improvements in the electrochemical efficiencies that will help us even better serve a power-hungry market."

Argonne is well known for its lengthy history of research and development on lithium batteries, but has experience with a wide range of battery chemistries.

"Lead-acid batteries are some of the oldest type of rechargeable batteries and are still widely used in many applications, including cars, fork-lifts and stationary storage, to only name a few," said Andreas Roelofs, interim director of ACCESS. "Argonne is excited to partner with industry to further improve on the performance of this energy storage technology, which could increase energy efficiency and sustainability."

East Penn is a leading manufacturer of high quality lead-acid batteries and accessories for the automotive, commercial, marine, motive power, UPS and telecommunication markets. The company's quality and environmental systems for its entire 520-acre complex have been certified to ISO 9001:2008, ISO/TS 16949:2009, and ISO 14001:2004 requirements. For more information, contact East Penn Manufacturing Co., Lyon Station, PA 19536 or visit the company website.

RSR Technologies is a research and development company engagedĀ  in the nonferrous smelting and refining industries. The company provides services to battery, mining and smelting companies and is focused on achieving the highest standards for health, safety and the environment. The company provides services worldwide and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. For further information, contact Dr. Tim Ellis, President, RSR Technologies.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.