New lightweight electrodes for lead-acid batteries will reduce vehicle emissions and power the next generation of environment-friendly vehicles.
Climate change can be combated through low carbon technology, which includes the development of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). Lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride batteries are used in HEVs due to their high power-to-weight ratio — but they are expensive. Lead-acid batteries may be cheaper, but are unsuitable because of their lower power-to-weight ratio.
The 'Melt spun and sintered metal fibre networks for lead-acid battery advancement' (MEMLAB) project was established to solve this problem by developing lightweight electrodes for lead-acid batteries using state-of-the-art fibre production technology. The fibres are coated with titanium and aluminium to form the battery electrode. This reduces by half the weight of lead-acid batteries, thereby dramatically improving power-to-weight ratio and enabling their use in HEVs.
Around 70 million lead-acid batteries are manufactured in Europe each year. Replacing standard lead-acid batteries with the new lightweight battery will therefore help to reduce the quantity of lead used and limit pollution from road vehicles.
Samples of melt spun aluminium and titanium fibres have already been successfully produced by the MEMLAB consortium. The fibres were characterised using scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray analysis. In addition, aluminium and titanium metal fibre networks (MFNs) have been manufactured and new methods for the coating of electrode substrates investigated.
MEMLAB is now able to produce MFNs from titanium and aluminium and to deposit lead on top of these MFNs. The performance of these new electrodes and their suitability for application in lead-acid batteries will be assessed.
The work conducted will help the participating small businesses to compete more effectively in new and existing markets. The consortium will also seek out new applications for the technology, such as industrial filtration and fuel cells.
Provided by Cordis