Battery Manufacturing And Recycling Efforts Are The Benchmark For The Move Towards Positive Environmental Change

This year U.S. Battery Manufacturing celebrates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day we continue to try to make environmental improvements in the face of a new threat. While this year’s celebration will be different than in previous years, we take this moment to recognize industries and individuals who are committed to making our world a better, safer place and continue to make positive strides.

At U.S. Battery, we remain focused on responsibly producing quality batteries, which set the industry standard for cycling performance and durability. From an environmental standpoint, Flooded Lead Acid (FLA) batteries are at the top of the list when considering recyclability. More than 99% of the materials are recycled into new batteries. This level of recycling means that 130 million used lead batteries are prevented from reaching landfills every year. These efforts have resulted in the recognition, of lead batteries, by the U.S. Environmental Agency as the most recycled consumer product.

As the battery industry continues to do its part for the environment, U.S. Battery and battery manufacturers worldwide, are also committed to providing an essential service during the COVID-19 outbreak. Our batteries are being used as backup power for call centers, hospitals, and temporary field hospitals, as well as powering the floor machines that are helping keep them clean.

While we’re proud to be a part of this effort, the U.S. Battery family would like to thank those on the frontline of fighting this dangerous disease. All of your efforts have been inspirational. Together we will get through this.

Join others in virtually celebrating Earth day by visiting the Earth Day Live event online, which features digital events that address climate change and showcase messages of hope and optimism. Visit https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-live/

TTBLS structure grown with additives

Improving Deep-Cycle Batteries Through Additives

Battery manufacturers have improved deep cycle battery performance through the use of additives, but not all of them result in the same benefit to customers. At the core of all deep-cycle flooded lead-acid (FLA) battery technology is a basic design that has undergone continuous improvement over more than 100 years. Lead battery chemistry is one of the most reliable and cost-effective technologies over any other type of battery used in a variety of global industries. While these batteries have historically been the most widely used and the most recycled, a variety of additives and technologies have been introduced over the last few years to improve their efficiency to an even greater extent.

Grid Alloys

Historically, the primary failure mode of deep-cycle lead-acid batteries has been positive grid corrosion. The grid alloys used to manufacture deep-cycle flooded lead-acid battery plates typically consist of lead with additions of antimony to harden the soft lead, and to improve the deep cycle characteristics of the battery. Additional metals are often added to the lead-antimony alloys to improve strength and electrical conductivity. Another additive that is used to enhance lead-antimony alloys is selenium. Selenium acts as a grain refiner in lead-antimony alloys. This fine-grain alloy provides additional strength and corrosion resistance over conventional lead-antimony alloys. The effect of these improvements is that positive grid corrosion is no longer the primary failure mode, and the cycle life of FLA deep cycle batteries has been significantly increased.

Active Materials

The starting materials for deep cycle FLA positive active materials are made from a mixture of lead oxide, sulfuric acid, and various additives. These materials improve the performance and life of the positive electrodes in a finished battery. Historically, positive electrodes have been processed using a procedure called hydroset. This procedure is designed to ‘grow’ tetrabasic lead sulfate (TTBLS) crystals in the plates to provide the strength to resist the constant expansion and contraction of the active materials during cycling. This crystal growing process has limitations in its ability to control the range of sizes of the TTBLS crystals. Through the use of crystal seeding additives, the range of crystal sizes can be controlled to the most desirable sizes. These uniform crystal sizes in the TTBLS structure result in increased initial capacity, faster cycle-up to rated capacity, higher peak capacity, and improved charging using the wide range of charger technologies used in various applications.

Concurrent with the improvements in deep cycle FLA positive active materials, improvements in the performance of deep-cycle FLA negative active materials are needed. Carbon additives have been used in the negative active materials of lead-acid batteries for many years. These additives have been used in lead-acid battery expanders to prevent the natural tendency of the negative active material to shrink or coalesce during cycling. Negative active material shrinkage can reduce the capacity and life of deep-cycle FLA batteries. Recent improvements in these carbon materials have opened up new opportunities to improve several performance limitations of lead-acid batteries. New structured carbon materials such as graphites, graphenes, and nanocarbons have been used to control sulfation and improve chargeability in a partial state of charge (PSOC) applications such as renewable energy.

Although the basic structure of an FLA battery hasn’t changed for more than 100-years, manufacturers are continually searching for ways to improve efficiency while maintaining their cost-effectiveness. Additives are one of the ways FLA batteries are becoming more efficient, and new technologies to further enhance them are on the horizon.

National Battery Day 2020

National Battery Day 2020

Celebrating The Benefits Of Lead-Acid Batteries

For industries and individuals who depend on battery power for their machinery and energy needs, lead batteries play an essential part of their work and livelihood. Celebrating National Battery Day 2020 allows these industries, as well as battery manufacturers such as U.S. Battery, to recognize the benefits lead-acid batteries have provided to various industries for more than 150 years.

Cost-Efficient Power

One of the major benefits of flooded lead-acid (FLA) batteries is that they have the lowest cost per watt-hour than any other form of battery type. This is the reason why they are the preferred type of battery in industries that have moved into incorporating more electric vehicles and machinery such as golf carts, aerial and scissor lifts, RVs, floor cleaning machines, marine applications, and well as for renewable energy storage.  With regular maintenance, FLA batteries keep equipment and vehicles running for many years with a low cost of operation, while also remaining as the safest and most reliable sources of energy, according to industry experts and studies performed by the Battery Council International.

Economic Impact

The lead battery industry in the United States also provides a large economic impact by employing nearly 25,000 workers, according to a study by the Battery Council International. This equates to a $26.3 billion in economic impact that also affects suppliers, worker spending, transportation, and distribution that combined, totals 92,000 jobs equating to an estimated 1.7 billion annually in payroll.

Environmental Sustainability

One of the least known advantages of FLA batteries is that they are one of the best examples of a sustainable and cost-effective recycling effort in which nearly 100 percent of these batteries are recycled. All the materials in a lead battery are recycled into new lead batteries, which dramatically reduces their impact on the environment for the battery industry, as well as for industries that have embraced the use of battery-powered vehicles to reduce those that are powered by combustion engines.

In addition, many automobiles utilize start-stop technology, a system that shuts off engines while idle at a stoplight to conserve fuel. This technology, according to the Consortium for Battery Innovation, claims it eliminates 4.5 million tons of gas emissions annually in the U.S. alone.

While new technologies such as Lithium continue to increase in popularity and will foreseeably grow in use, battery manufacturers are finding methods to make them as cost-efficient as FLA batteries, and are also working on ways to effectively recycle them in the same way FLA batteries have been successful industry-wide.

 

1.7 million tons of lead batteries is recycled every year

Battery Council International Among The Success Stories In Recycling

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenged companies and organizations to sign and be a part of the EPA’s America Recycles Pledge, representing their active participation in addressing the challenges of America’s recycling programs. After many companies signed and joined, the EPA recently recognized several organizations that have shown exemplary successes in recycling.

Among those recognized was the Battery Council International (BCI), a not-for-profit trade organization that represents the lead battery industry consisting of battery manufacturers, recyclers, and suppliers. The organization is committed to sustainability, the environment, and society by providing extensive information about recycling lead batteries to consumers and policymakers. 

With lead battery recycling at a 99.3% rate and the fact that lead batteries are safely manufactured and recycled through a “closed-loop” state-of-the-art process, BCI estimates this effort keeps more than 1.7 million tons of lead batteries out of  U.S. landfills. BCI was recognized for its training materials, intended for retailers, that help inform handlers on how to identify and remove lithium batteries from the lead recycling process. BCI created a lithium battery training tool kit designed for companies to incorporate into their onboarding programs and learning management systems.

BCI was one of many companies and organizations recognized by the EPA for their recycling efforts in 2018 and celebrates these successes to remind us of the significant progress made by individuals and companies when working together.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia Visits California Battery Plant

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia Visits California Battery Plant

On September 26, 2019, representatives from U.S. Battery and Battery Council International were pleased to host Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) at U.S. Battery’s manufacturing facility in the city of Corona. Assemblywoman Garcia is an author of AB-142, the Lead Battery Recycling Act (2016) which requires the Department of Toxic Substances Control to investigate and clean up properties impacted by closed lead battery recycling facilities. Additionally, the legislation stabilizes the funding for the program by increasing the current fee on battery manufacturers and making it permanent.

The facility tour showcased U.S. Battery’s process for manufacturing deep-cycle batteries, which are used for a variety of consumer and commercial applications, including energy storage to support solar and wind energy generation, and zero emissions backup power systems. These applications will be especially important in California, which leads the nation in the fight against climate change and has established ambitious goals to curb emissions of climate-forcing pollutants. To achieve these goals, the state will need to avail itself of all viable clean energy technologies, including lead batteries.

The U.S. Battery manufacturing facility is part of the lead battery industry’s overall contribution to California’s economy:

  • 3,056 jobs
  • $195.9 million in annual labor income,
  • $332.9 million in annual gross state product (GSP),
  • $998.6 million in annual output (overall economic benefit), and
  • $92.9 million in annual government revenue.

These benefits are widespread and support a variety of industries throughout California. For details on the economic contribution of the lead battery industry, visit: www.essentialenergyeveryday.com

Battery industry's impact on economy

Lead Battery Industry In The U.S. Drives Economic Growth

A study by the Battery Council International reveals that the lead battery industry in the United States provides a large boost to the economy through manufacturing, recycling and mining activity while continuing to be one of the safest and most reliable sources of energy storage.

Highlights from the study include:
  • The lead battery industry employs nearly 25K workers and contributes $26.3 billion to the U.S. economy.
  • The lead battery industry indirectly affects various industries, including suppliers, worker spending, transportation and distribution, and research and development, which contribute a total of 92,000 jobs and $1.7 billion annually in payroll.
  • Lead batteries are used to power nearly 275 million cars and trucks.
  • Many modern vehicles utilize start-stop technology; a system that allows cars to temporarily stop their engines, while idling, to conserve fuel. According to the Consortium for Battery Innovation, this technology, which utilizes lead batteries, is eliminating 4.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually in the U.S.
  • Lead batteries have a recycling rate exceeding 99 percent, and are the most recycled consumer-produced products in the U.S. According to the BCI, a new lead battery consists of more than 80 percent recycled material, and nearly 70 percent of its lead comes from recycling from a “closed-loop” industry, making it the most environmentally sustainable of all battery technologies.

Investment in research and development also adds to the lead battery industry’s contribution to economic growth in the U.S. According to the BCI, in 2018 the lead battery industry invested over $100 million into this area, continuing to meet the rapidly changing needs within transportation, renewable energy, communications and other sectors, and has already improved the lifespan of batteries and their ability to store energy.

In total, the BCI study demonstrates how the U.S. lead battery industry annually supports $6 billion in labor income, $10.9 billion in the gross domestic product (GDP), $26.3 billion in overall economic impact, and 2.4 billion in government revenue. These impacts, according to the BCI, represent the lead battery’s total contribution to the national economy. To find out more and read the BCI’s economic impact study, visit the website at www.batterycouncil.org

 

Battery Industry Associations Commit to Increase Global Recycling Efforts

While North America and Europe have a lead recycling rate of more than 99 percent, industry trade associations met among concerns that these rates were not the same in other parts of the world. In order to improve lead recycling efforts globally, the International Lead Association (ILA), Association of European Automotive and Industry Battery Manufacturers (Eurobat), Battery Council International (BCI), and the Association of Battery Recyclers (ABR), created a Memorandum of Cooperation outlining a framework for the development of a material stewardship program designed to support the environmentally responsible management of lead and other compounds, throughout the lifecycle of a lead-acid battery, from raw material production through battery manufacturing and recycling.

The memorandum issued by all four industry trade associations demonstrates an understanding that lead batteries used for energy storage, industrial applications, and in vehicles is worldwide, but improper recycling practices can cause health risks to the public and environment in areas where recycling rates are not as high as those in North America and Europe. In an effort to respond to these issues, these trade associations agreed collectively to address them by adopting a common set of principals, establishing continuous improvement goals, participate in knowledge transfer concerning environmentally responsible management of lead batteries, and to provide progress reports to interested shareholders.

The effort, according to the ILA, will help to advance environmentally responsible production and recycling of lead and lead batteries, in which the industry sees a global demand for this type of energy storage to increase thirteen-fold by 2024. More information on the agreement by the four trade associations and quotes can be found on the ILA website.

US REGC2H XC2

Expert’s Offer Tips On Energy Storage

Alternate Energy Magazine Talks With U.S. Battery Manufacturing Regarding Deep-Cycle Batteries Used For Energy Storage

Alternate Energy Magazine, one of the leading online trade publications for solar, wind, biomass, fuel cell and other alternate energy sources, spoke with U.S. Battery’s Senior VP of Engineering Fred Wehmeyer on energy storage trends and solutions.

Some of the topics discussed concern utilizing energy storage solutions closer to the point of use, such as in individual homes, subdivisions and communities. Wehmeyer also discusses the differences and advantages of utilizing flooded deep-cycle batteries versus AGM batteries, as well as the important differences between flooded lead-acid batteries over lithium-ion for home energy storage. Read the entire Alternate Energy Magazine Article HERE.

U.S. Battery Recycling logo

On Earth-Day, Industries Get “Green” With Batteries

The increasing use of deep-cycle batteries is helping various industries become leaner and reduce their impact on the environment

A variety of industries have been using battery powered equipment and vehicles for decades. The attraction to incorporate them was initially to improve safety. In the cleaning industry, for example, motorized cleaning machines were much safer with battery power, reducing the risk of trips and falls. In the access lift industry, battery-powered vehicles are more compact and maneuverable, answering the industry’s call for greater safety for works on jobs that extended 18-25-feet above ground.

As these and other industries enjoyed improved safety standards, they began realizing that there was a greater demand for battery powered vehicles because of the hidden benefits that weren’t initially apparent. Companies and industries using battery powered floor cleaning machines, access lifts, golf carts, fork lifts, and other equipment, realized that those equipped with deep-cycle lead-acid batteries ended up being more cost effective than those powered by combustion engines. In addition, with proper battery maintenance, many companies realized lower annual operating costs, and the benefit of reduced environmental impact.

The latter was realized when the Battery Council International announced that lead-acid batteries are one of the most recycled product on the planet, nearing 100 percent. As long as recycling efforts are adhered to, and avoiding recycling lithium-ion batteries in lead-acid battery recycling centers, industries that adopted battery powered equipment are also “greener” than they once thought.

Deep-cycle batteries are also being seriously considered for a growing need for energy storage from alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power. During a recent Advanced Energy Storage Caucus in Washington DC, representatives discussed how energy storage is the future of renewable energy and that environmental concerns are also an issue. The discussions also could not ignore the environmental life cycle of deep-cycle lead-acid batteries and their 150-year proven track record within a variety of industries.

With a variety of benefits, there’s clearly a shift towards using battery power that can help many industries change how these batteries are viewed, their safety record, and as an environmental leader.

US 12VXZ XC2

On National Battery Day, The Battery Industry Focuses On The Ongoing Discussions Regarding Lead Batteries As The Future Of Energy Storage

While National Battery Day (February 18) is observed to appreciate the convenience of batteries on everyday life, the future of batteries and the role they play in energy storage was the subject of a briefing held on February 12 on Capitol Hill. The event featured a panel of leading science and business leaders who shared highlights on innovative lead battery research and expressed the need to continue support, as the results will meet the growing needs of energy storage, sustainable manufacturing, and in the automotive industry.

Among the representatives attending were California Rep. Mark Takano (Democrat) and New York Rep. Chris Collins (Republican) who serve as co-chairs of the Advanced Energy Storage Caucus. “Energy storage is the future of renewable energy,” said Takano. “Cheap grid-scale storage means that renewables can compete with fossil fuels on cost alone.”

Rep. Collins also stated that energy storage means energy independence, noting that the current downside of solar and wind power is that environmental conditions aren’t always available. ”We have to store the energy in a way that’s real and sustainable, and the technology is not quite there,” said Collins…“We need breakthroughs.”

Takano also applauded the lead battery industry’s efforts in recycling. “As we have honest conversations about batteries, battery storage, and renewable energy, we cannot ignore the environmental life cycle of these [lead] batteries. I commend the leading science and business leaders who are pioneering developments on battery research. Together, we can pave the way for a sustainable future for every community.”

Dr. Tim Ellis, president of Dallas-based RSR Technologies, was one of several experts who shared highlights on innovative lead battery research, citing ongoing research at Argonne National Laboratory to better understand the performance of lead batteries at the molecular level, leading to better dynamic charging acceptance and improved cycle life.

According to the Battery Council International, the need has never been greater for innovative storage solutions, especially advanced lead batteries. The BCI noted that lead batteries have a 150-year proven track record and are poised to meet growing demand and future applications.

On National Battery Day, the Battery Industry also wants to remind consumers to recycle all forms of batteries, being careful not mix lead and lithium batteries together. For more information on where to find a battery recycling center visit the Call2Recycle website.