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U.S. 145 XC2 with XC2 logo

Let’s Make It In America

In his State of the Union address, President Biden called for an end to relying on foreign supply chains and stated, “Let’s make it in America.” The Battery Council International (BCI) agrees, and according to Roger Miksad, executive vice president of the council, the U.S. lead battery manufacturing, and recycling industry is ready to meet the challenges.

Miksad stated that the U.S. lead and battery industry is proud of its existing domestic infrastructure that meets more than 90% of the domestic lead battery demand. According to the BCI, the U.S. supply chain employs nearly 25,000 people generating $26.3 Billion in economic contribution to the country’s economy.

With environmental issues also at the forefront of the President’s agenda, the BCI reminds Americans that in the U.S., lead batteries are manufactured utilizing a closed-loop system. In this system, the industry collects more than 130-million used batteries each year and recycles them to make new batteries that contain 80% recycled materials.

“Lead batteries are essential to building energy independence,” said Miksad. “They employ the most sustainable battery technology to aid in both mitigating climate change and securing energy independence for our country. Nearly every new electric vehicle contains a 12-volt lead battery to power critical safety functions. They enable low-carbon start-stop technology that keeps 5.3 million tons of greenhouse gases from the environment annually.”

According to the BCI, lead batteries are the most sustainable battery technology that aids in building energy independence and annually keeps 5.3-million tons of greenhouse gases out of the environment. “They provide renewable energy storage capabilities for commercial wind and solar farms,” says Miksad. “As well as in residential and community-based installations to capture energy generated by the wind and sun.”

The BCI and battery manufacturers like U.S. Battery are constantly looking to improve battery technology. Through continued investment in research and development with the U.S. National Laboratories system, the battery industry is pursuing next-generation battery technology and energy storage solutions that will be built by U.S. workers across the nation.

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS TO MODERN BATTERY-POWER NEEDS

The rechargeable lead-acid battery has been in continuous development since its initial introduction separately by Siemens, Sinsteden, and Planté during the period of 1852 – 1859. Since then, battery manufacturers such as U.S. Battery, which is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year, have continually sought to improve upon the performance, life, and efficiency of deep-cycle batteries for various commercial and industrial uses.

Deep-Cycle batteries’ overall dependability, cost-effectiveness, and recyclability have enabled them to continue in widespread use since their initial development. When John Anderson took over the reins of U.S. Battery early in the company’s history, he believed it was essential to look for ways to improve upon the basic battery technology. Over the decades, U.S. Battery has continued Mr. Anderson’s legacy by modernizing and innovating deep-cycle battery designs in multiple ways. These improvements enable the company’s products to stay ahead of the changing demands of consumers and the various industries it serves.

One of the first innovations by U.S. Battery was to increase the efficiency of the grid alloys used in the current collectors called grids. Historically, during cycling, the positive grids would slowly corrode, and grid corrosion was found to be a primary failure mode. U.S. Battery improved upon the corrosion resistance of the grids by adding selenium to the antimony grid alloys. The addition of selenium acts as a grain refiner to produce a fine-grain alloy that increases its strength and electrical conductivity as well as reduces corrosion. The effect of this improvement is that positive grid corrosion is no longer a primary failure mode, and the cycle life of F.L.A. deep-cycle batteries has been significantly increased.

The active materials pasted on the grids in a battery’s positive electrodes have also been improved over the years. The active materials start out as basic lead sulfates, and tetrabasic lead sulfate (TTBLS) has been shown to provide the longest cycle life.  Historically, TTBLS crystals have been ‘grown’ in a process called hydroset.  Because growing crystals depends on many factors such as time, temperature, humidity, etc., the sizes of the finished TTBLS crystals can be unpredictable. U.S. Battery has found that through the use of crystal seeding additives, the size and distribution of these crystals can be controlled to produce consistently small crystals distributed uniformly throughout the electrode.  Using a process the company calls Xtreme Capacity, U.S. Battery was able to provide customers with increased initial capacity, faster cycle-up to the full rated capacity, higher peak capacity, and improved charging using the wide range of charger technologies used in various applications.

As improvements to the positive electrodes were made, U.S. Battery realized that improvements to the negative electrodes were needed to balance the active materials’ performance in the battery.  Improving the negative electrodes’ performance allowed U.S. Battery to increase the battery’s overall capacity and extend service life. To do this, improved expanders were used in the negative active materials to prevent the natural tendency of the negative active material to shrink or coalesce during cycling. U.S. Battery also found that in applications with limited time for charging, progressive undercharge can result in negative plate sulfation.  This is often referred to as a partial state of charge (PSOC) operation.  To improve upon this problem, it was discovered that introducing structured carbon materials such as advanced graphites, graphene, and nano-carbons can improve dynamic charge acceptance and control sulfation. This allows renewable energy applications with unpredictable charging from solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources to advance with greater reliability and energy storage capability.

When deep-cycle batteries are used in a vehicle, the motion of the vehicle continually mixes the electrolyte and prevents electrolyte stratification.  However, in renewable energy applications where the batteries are stationary, there is no mechanical mixing of the electrolyte.  In these applications, it is essential to recognize the importance of proper charging to create gassing to mix the electrolyte properly. U.S. Battery has developed special charge algorithms to provide the appropriate amount of over-charge, including equalization charging to prevent electrolyte stratification.

While these improvements on 100-year-old battery technology have kept industries worldwide running efficiently, U.S. Battery is continually searching for ways to improve efficiency further and maintain a level of cost-effectiveness. Once again, the requirements of battery-powered equipment have evolved, both for consumers and the industries that rely on them. U.S. Battery has responded with the development of new product lines that incorporate the reliability, longevity, and capacity that the company’s customers have come to expect. The latest generation of deep-cycle batteries has been shown to last longer, are lighter in weight, and feature a technologically advanced design that will meet the demands of the customer’s energy needs now and in the future. Designed and assembled in the U.S.A., the new product line will be available worldwide exclusively from U.S. Battery. More information on what’s coming from U.S. Battery will be announced in the coming months.

 

Battery Day

RECOGNIZING THE IMPACT OF BATTERIES ON NATIONAL BATTERY DAY

Join U.S. Battery in celebrating February 18th, National Battery Day! NBD allows us to celebrate the impact batteries have in our daily lives and reminds consumers of the recycling efforts essential to allow batteries as a vital energy source.

Overall, the battery industry plays a vital role in everything from transportation, medical, aerospace and defense, communication, renewable energy, and other industries. One of the most common batteries in use is lead batteries, mainly because of their high efficiency, low cost, and the fact that they are also nearly 100 percent recyclable. U.S. Battery deep-cycle, lead battery products, for example, are used in everything from aerial lifts to off-grid housing, floor cleaning machines, and many other applications.

Economic Impact

According to the Battery Council International, the non-profit trade association for the lead battery industry, lead batteries are a proven technology with more than 160-years of unmatched resiliency and reliability. They also report that lead batteries provide more than 90-percent of the backup power required for 24/7 telecommunications and backup recovery systems that protect lives, investments, and data in an emergency. Within the transportation and motive power sectors, 12V lead batteries have a projected growth reaching more than six percent in the automotive market alone between 2015 and 2030, bringing the market value to $31.9B.

In the United States, lead batteries provide a $26.3-billion impact on the economy that involves suppliers, worker spending, transportation, and distribution. It provides an estimated $1.7-billion in annual payroll, supporting an industry that employs nearly 25,000 workers. Aside from studies that show lead-acid batteries are the safest and most reliable sources of energy, studies show they also represent some of the lowest cost-of-operation options available.

Good For The Environment

Another reason to celebrate batteries on NBD is that they are the most recycled consumer product, recognized by The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The recycling process breaks down the outer casings made of polypropylene, then washed, melted, and extruded into small pellets. Manufacturers use these pellets to produce new battery cases as well as other plastic products. The lead oxide and lead grids of the battery’s interior are melted in a smelting furnace to form lead ingots to make new battery components. The sulfuric acid in the battery’s electrolyte is neutralized and purified into water that meets EPA clean water standards before being recirculated. The recycling process converts the acid into sodium sulfate, a compound commonly used in laundry detergent, glass, and other textiles. The process creates a sustainable energy source that is the model of recycling in the United States.

A Sustainable Energy Source

The U.S. Department of Energy is also looking at the role lead batteries may have on the future of energy storage because of its recycling rate, strong domestic base, high safety record, and low-cost efficiency. The DOE issued a 2020 report on Grid Energy Storage Technology Cost and Performance Assessment that includes lead batteries as one of seven storage technologies receiving attention, along with lithium batteries.

While it’s great to acknowledge that batteries have provided consumers and industries with a viable energy source for more than 150 years,  NBD reminds us to be responsible consumers. As batteries become more of an important energy source, it’s reliant upon industries and consumers to familiarize themselves with the various chemistries, where your batteries come from, and how each type of battery can be properly disposed of and recycled.

One of the most important things you can do to observe NBD is to gather old or used batteries and properly recycle them. Disposing of batteries in landfills can cause chemical and fire hazards. Therefore, finding a local store, organization, or recycling facility is an essential part of the process. To do this, the Battery Council International recommends using www.call2recycle.org, a national non-profit organization, to help consumers identify the various battery types and to locate local recycling centers and disposal options.

U.S. Department of Energy Urged to Invest in U.S. Lead Battery Industry

In January 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a program for creating and sustaining U.S. global leadership in energy storage utilization and exports, utilizing a secure domestic manufacturing chain independent of foreign resources of critical materials. In response, the Battery Council International (BCI) filed comments urging the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to recognize the importance of the lead battery industry to the nation’s energy storage needs and to invest in America’s lead battery industry as part of the DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge.

According to the BCI, the lead battery industry by definition fulfills this goal. It is a domestic industry, which means that the raw materials used to manufacture lead batteries in the U.S. and North America are recycled and produced domestically, including the lead, plastic, and electrolyte. There is no need to import minerals or other materials from unreliable markets to ensure a steady, dependable, and affordable source of energy storage.

The BCI believes that ongoing research into advanced lead battery technologies presents incredible opportunities for the lead battery industry to deliver the energy storage needs of the future. BCI’s comments highlight several of the important advances that have been made by the lead battery industry in recent years and describe several basic science research opportunities that are well-placed for federal investment and grants.

In the coming months, DOE will be releasing opportunities for industry to seek federal grants to pursue additional research into advanced battery technologies. BCI expects to continue engaging with DOE and other stakeholders to ensure that lead batteries are among the technologies chosen to receive federal attention.

BCI’s comments can be accessed here. For more information, contact Roger Miksad at rmiksad@batterycouncil.org.

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.

Maintaining Solar Deep-Cycle Batteries During Self Quarantine and Stay-At-Home Orders

With stay-at-home orders in place in many states, homes utilizing deep-cycle batteries for power could be increasingly straining their systems. As more people stay home, more appliances and electrical accessories that would typically be off during the day will be used. Add to that the fact that storms could reduce the amount of energy being generated by solar panels.

To avoid putting additional strain on your battery storage system, there are several ways you can keep deep-cycle batteries in good working order.

1) Minimize your battery-packs depth-of-discharge (DOD) to no more than 50 percent. Draining past 50 percent DOD will ultimately shorten the lifespan of your battery pack. If possible, schedule times during the day when certain non-essential items can be turned off. This will help minimize the total discharge.

2) If your home is plugged into the electrical grid. Use this opportunity to charge your deep-cycle battery pack to keep them from discharging below 50 percent.

3) Perform an equalization charge. Equalization charging prevents the build-up of sulfates on the battery plates that can reduce capacity. The batteries should be fully charged before any equalization charge is added.

4) Check water levels on flooded lead-acid deep-cycle batteries. Make sure the batteries are fully charged first, then add water as necessary to fill each cell, ensuring the plates are fully submerged.

5) Keep your battery area clean and check for corrosion and proper battery connections. Check the cables to ensure they are tight. Remove any corrosion with a mixture of water and baking soda.

6) Double-check charging rates during cold temperatures. Flooded lead-acid batteries charge and discharge differently in cold and hot temperatures. During winter months, it may take longer for batteries to recharge. The best way to ensure the batteries are fully charged and not dipping below 50-percent DOD is to use a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of each battery cell.

Battery manufacturers recommend using a simple correction factor to your hydrometer’s readings. Using 80-degrees as your baseline, subtract (.004) from your hydrometer reading for every 10-degrees below 80 °F (5.6-degrees below 27 °C). For example, if the temperature of the electrolyte is 50 °F and your battery specific gravity reading is 1.200, you must subtract .012 from your measurement. In this case, .004 for every 10-degrees equals .012. Subtract this from 1.200, and your corrected specific gravity reading is 1.188.

Paying closer attention to your renewable energy system’s deep-cycle batteries will ensure they will remain reliable and get you through what could be several weeks or months of having to stay indoors during this outbreak.

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.

 

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

US L16HC XC2 Deep Cycle Battery

A Solar Energy Battery Storage Bank Made To Last 16 Years

Low Amperage Draw And Impeccable Maintenance Kept A Battery Energy Storage Bank Operable For More Than A Decade

Grover, Wyoming resident Jody Jenson, isn’t living “off-grid,” but his home is in a rural part of the state, where water comes from a well and delivered to the home by electric pumps. After several power outages, he didn’t want to rely on the city’s power grid to have fresh water, so he built a 48-volt solar system with U.S. Battery Deep-Cycle batteries for energy storage that have provided 16-years or reliable service.  “I did not like the vulnerability of relying on the grid for our drinking water,” said Jenson. “I spent over $12,000 on this system, including digging a new 100-ft. well. It definitely wasn’t to reduce costs, but more about having freshwater availability.”

To supply power to the pump system Jenson utilizes four 120-watt solar panels mounted together and wired to provide 24-volts and is connected to a circuit breaker and charge controller.  To store energy, he uses eight US L16HC XC2 batteries. “The system powers the well-pump that draws 4-amps, depending on groundwater level, but it’s pretty consistent,” he says. “It takes about 18-hours to fill the 1200 gallon cistern. The system normally runs about 12-hours between low and full tank levels.  From the cistern, there’s another pressure pump that draws six amps for approximately three minutes after starting, providing roughly 30-gallons between cycles.”

 Even though the system doesn’t draw huge amounts of amperage, Jenson never expected that the US L16HC deep-cycle batteries would last 16-years. “When I bought them, I remember being told that with proper maintenance, they should last something like five years,” said Jensen. “I knew with care, they would last longer.”

Jenson has taken exceptionally good care of his deep-cycle batteries, demonstrating how cost-effective flooded lead-acid batteries can be with proper maintenance. His routine includes weekly and monthly procedures. “Every week I go to check the system, including the water level in the cistern, corrosion on the battery posts, charging rate,  and battery voltage,” he says. “The batteries are still showing 26.5-volts fully charged. Once a month, I also check battery water levels and the amperage draw of the two pumps. This gives me any clues as to any problems that might be occurring. Quarterly, I add distilled water to the 24 individual cells.” 

While most people would consider this an impeccable maintenance routine, Jenson also includes periodic equalizing charges. “After adding water, I equalize the bank of batteries with the charge controller for a period of two hours at a maximum of 16-amps,” says Jensen. “I have never equalized without the batteries being fully charged. I’ve totaled up all the water I have added over the years, and as of today, from February of 2003 to now, I’ve added 63-gallons of water to the 24-cells!”

In addition to Jensen’s unique system and maintenance procedures, U.S. Battery L16 HC deep-cycle batteries feature the company’s XC2 formulation that uses Diamond Plate technology, highly efficient synthetic tetrabasic lead sulfate (TTBLS) crystal structures that enhanced performance, charging, and extend battery life. U.S. Battery also manufactures a line of Renewable Energy Batteries that are specifically designed for energy storage and feature Defender Moss Shields that reduce mossing and sulfation conditions, and Outside Positive Plates that mitigate the effects of plate sulfation.

While receiving 16-years of service from a set of deep-cycle batteries is not common, Jenson’s theory of having a large battery bank with a relatively low amperage draw, does demonstrate what low depth-of discharge and proper maintenance procedures can do to extend the life of deep-cycle batteries used for energy storage.

U.S. Battery Manufacturing’s RE Series, Renewable Energy Storage Batteries Get An Updated Look

The Renewable Energy industry will soon appreciate the updated appearance of U.S. Battery’s RE Deep Cycle product line. The batteries will feature new labeling with stronger graphics and battery information, but the internal structure and design of the RE Series line will remain the same.

U.S. Battery RE Series deep-cycle batteries are the top energy storage solution chosen by a variety of industries and individual homeowners looking for the most cost-effective method to store energy from renewable solar and wind power systems. The unique components built into the RE Series batteries deliver the highest peak capacity, cycle life, reliability, and improved watt-hours per liter and watt-hours per kilogram.

These include the company’s exclusive Diamond Plate technology, highly efficient synthetic tetrabasic lead sulfate (TTBLS) crystal structures that enhanced performance, charging, and extend battery life. U.S. Battery’s RE-Series deep-cycle batteries also include Defender™ moss shields that effectively prevent the formation of “mossing shorts” caused when positive active material particles dislodge from the plates and collect at the top of the cell elements. Outside Positive (OSP™) battery design, mitigates the effects of positive plate deterioration and further increases battery life, overall capacity, and provides stable performance over the life of the battery.

U.S. Battery RE Series deep cycle batteries are available in 6-volt and 2-volt configurations, both featuring extra heavy-duty connector lugs for extreme power loads, a tough polypropylene exterior case, heavy-duty lifting handles, and the company’s SpeedCap® Venting positive locking system for easy maintenance. An optional factory-installed, single-point watering system is also available.

U.S. Battery manufactures a variety of deep-cycle batteries that are all manufactured in the U.S.A. and are distributed worldwide. For more information, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit https://www.usbattery.com.