March 25, 2021: Research into how lead-acid batteries can compete with other chemistries in providing utilities with grid-scale storage has been launched by the Consortium for Battery Innovation, Hammond Group and East Penn, CBI announced on March 15.
The project will focus on enhancing cycle life and performance using expanders in the batteries’ electrodes, such as barium sulfate, the CBI says, with Hammond and East Penn exploring how the additive size, treatment and morphology can be adapted to benefit duty cycles in a typical energy storage system.
Matt Raiford, technical manager with CBI, is leading the research. “This project will be critical to increasing the cycle life of batteries developed to match those commonly used in energy storage applications,” he said.
“By studying the impact of different barium sulfate expander additives on electrode behaviour, new insights will be delivered into maximizing the performance of energy storage lead batteries.
“This will be critical for the expansion of lead battery uptake by utilities and renewable energy companies across the globe looking to add battery storage to their systems.”
The research is aiming to deliver the best expander for such systems, ‘with a direct ripple effect in contributing to the enhanced product performance for CBI’s membership’.
CBI has been involved with several projects across the world that use lead batteries in grid-scale applications, such as the 16MW/25MWh lead carbon system in Saxony, Germany, which was installed by Chinese battery firm Narada with operator Upside Group and has been operating since May 2019.
The 10,500 battery cells are housed in 18 containers and provide grid back-up for the entire region as well as stabilization for the Central European utility grid.
In October 2020, a 12MW power station owned by NR Electric began operating in Huzhou in China’s Zhejiang Province, providing system stability for the power grid using Tianneng’s lead carbon batteries.
In Tibet the highest lead battery in the world — some 4,700 metres above sea level — stores solar energy and supplies electricity to the grid with 30MW/20MWh of capacity.
At the moment these projects are just a handful when compared with the huge number of large-scale storage systems being installed worldwide that use non-lead chemistries.
“With rising demand for utility energy storage, the role of advanced lead batteries continues to be central for the global shift to a low carbon future by supporting the decarbonization of the energy sector,” says CBI.