Lead-acid battery industry to play big role in automotive advances
The lead-acid battery industry has the opportunity to become a major player in the market for 48-volt automotive systems, according to Chip Bremer, marketing and communications manager for the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium.
His comments follow the ALABC’s recent showcase of three hybrid electric concept vehicles at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC Europe 2015) held in Germany in January.
The vehicles resulted from ALABC’s R&D programme, which aims to demonstrate the potential of lead-carbon batteries in 48V architectures. The models on display were the 48V LC SuperHybrid; the 48V Kia Optima T-Hybrid; and the ADEPT 48V.
“We’ve shown here that these lead-carbon batteries can not only meet the requirements for these systems, but also provide automakers a cost-effective option for low-emission, turbo-powered performance at that voltage,” Bremer says.
“The fact that two OEMs, Ford and Kia/Hyundai, have assisted directly with these projects, and even more automakers are showing interest in similar ventures, is a big deal for lead-acid battery producers. For years, we’ve been helping to evolve the lead-acid battery into a high-performance energy storage device capable of operating in high-rate partial state-of-charge duty yet still remain cost-effective and highly recyclable. Today, we’ve brought the technology to a point where it can meet the demands of the ever-changing energy storage marketplace, and now that automakers are starting to take notice, the lead battery industry is poised to see considerable gains in areas where other battery chemistries have assumed a significant presence.”
ALABC European project coordinator Allan Cooper says the concept of 48-volt mild hybrid powertrains is attracting interest from automakers because they are working to lower CO2 emissions by increased electrification of the powertrain as opportunities for achieving still more fuel efficient engines diminish.
“The problem is, while needing to reduce emissions, it is necessary to keep production at a relatively low cost,” he says. “Right now, we believe the best way to achieve that is with a modified micro/mild-hybrid powertrain powered by advanced lead-carbon batteries — just like the ones we put on display.
“The ALABC feels privileged to be working with Hyundai and Ford, as well as our other partners, in evaluating these lead carbon batteries and other essential components in these vehicles.”
According to Cooper, the 48V demonstrators solve some of the problems with making 48V low-emission systems appealing to the general consumer. “By downsizing and down-speeding the engine to reduce CO2 emissions, you significantly reduce the vehicle’s performance, making it less ‘fun to drive’,” he said.