May 9, 2019: Battery Council International’s annual award for the most important and innovative achievement in 2018 was awarded on April 28 to RSR Technologies for a development that helps level the playing field between lead and lithium battery performance.
BCI said the award was given in recognition of the combination of RSR’s research into the fundamentals of lead battery charging and discharging and the resultant use of a ground-breaking alloy that can double cycle life and vastly reduce water loss.
RSR, working with East Penn Manufacturing and the US Argonne National Laboratory, has been using Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source synchrotron to look at, in real time, the crystallization of lead plates at the atomic level during the charging and discharging process. The results of the research enabled the firm to develop its alloy, known as Supersoft-Hycycle, which enhances lead battery performance.
Tim Ellis, president of RSR Technologies, said: “This has been a tremendous opportunity to dramatically improve the performance of the active material in lead batteries to reach the full theoretical potential of the lead battery system.
“We can compete and win against lithium in many applications with higher performance.
“The work at Argonne has helped us understand the physical processes taking place in real time inside batteries to develop higher performance advanced lead batteries. Our Supersoft-Hycycle lead really improves cycle life as validated by many of our customers, especially in higher temperature and extreme operating conditions.”
The alloy is already being used by South African battery firm Auto-X, the maker of the Willard brand of batteries.
Kelvin Naidoo, Willard’s manufacturing and technical director, said: “The results are spectacular and showed vastly improved cycling and greatly reduced water loss — the holy grail for lead batteries… We are getting results that we can’t understand because we expect there to be a failure amount and we’re not getting one at all.
“In Africa with the high temperatures you expect grid corrosion and we’ve just tested some imported batteries in the field, which all failed. But this alloy is performing remarkably well.”
Naidoo said he expected the new material will prove to be a spectacular game changer for the lead battery industry.
Supersoft-Hycycle is undergoing trials with half a dozen companies in North America and Europe. Ellis says he anticipates it will be fully available commercially by the end of the third quarter.