Why do we need to replace lead-acid batteries?
As the world shifts to more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources, energy storage technologies are becoming more and more crucial. Among these solutions, lithium-ion batteries stand out as a transformative technology, playing a pivotal role in harnessing renewable energy, improving grid stability, and supporting the transition to a more sustainable and efficient energy landscape. We shall examine the growing function of lithium-ion batteries in energy storage as well as their importance in enabling the production and consumption of energy in the future in this post.
Lead is harmful to our health, as we are all aware. The development of the brain and IQ can be hampered by exposure to this toxin, especially in young children. According to Duke University, exposure to leaded gasoline alone caused a cumulative loss of more than 800 million IQ points between the 1940s and the year of the formal ban on leaded gasoline in 1996.
While Plant and his lead batteries can be credited for getting us to where we are now, if we’re serious about safeguarding the future, it’s time to put this technology to rest. Let’s look at why lead-acid batteries are not sustainable and why we need to develop other ways to store energy in order to power our houses, RVs, and boats.
Lead-acid battery dangers
Batteries are fantastic, but there’s no denying that the lead they contain poses risks to both your health and the environment. Smaller doses could result in modest health issues, but bigger exposures could have major repercussions. In addition, habitat destruction, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and soil and water contamination are all consequences of the mining and manufacturing of lead-acid batteries.
Lead and sulfuric acid are the two most hazardous materials used to make lead-acid batteries. You might recall from school that sulfuric acid was hazardous, even when used in batteries and diluted with water.
These batteries emit vapors that contain traces of lead and other harmful substances. They can cause momentary discomfort when inhaled. On the other hand, over time, you are more likely to have cognitive decline, some types of cancer, and dental decay.
Battery acid can also result in serious burns and long-term skin damage. Even worse, contact with battery acid might result in permanent blindness. If sulfuric acid splashes on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible. The harm will persist as long as the acid is there.
The environmental impact of lead-acid batteries is significant throughout the entire process of production. Raw resources must be mined extensively, frequently in developing nations. Additionally, even though lead-acid batteries are 99% recyclable, those who work with them are frequently exposed to harmful levels of lead and sulfuric acid during manufacturing and reuse. Recycling is still beneficial overall, of course, as even a single lead battery has the potential to contaminate significant amounts of groundwater.
Efficiency is hampered by low energy density.
Energy density in batteries is determined by comparing the amount of energy a battery can hold to its size or weight. You may figure it out by multiplying the battery’s watt-hours by its kilogram or liter weight or volume. The energy density of a device is therefore determined by how long a battery can run it in comparison to its size.
Low energy density results in larger, heavier, and less powerful batteries. This is important since the battery will take longer to charge the higher the energy density. Smartphones are the ideal illustration. Tiny batteries don’t need to be recharged for at least a full day of use.
Compared to lithium-ion (Li-ion) and other non-lead batteries, lead-acid batteries have a substantially lower energy density. In order to generate the same amount of energy, they must be larger and heavier. Car batteries are weighty for a reason.
Batteries’ size and weight become crucial considerations for EVs and RVs. The majority of users favor compact, lightweight batteries. Because lead is inherently thick and abundant, lead-acid batteries are hefty.
A 3 KWh lead-acid battery typically weighs 66 pounds on average. Additionally, of the available battery options, it has the lowest energy density.
In contrast, lithium-ion batteries are considerably lighter than lead batteries—by about 55%. Approximately 13 pounds are the weight of a 3 KWh lithium-ion battery. Additionally, they require less space and have a higher energy density.
Short cycle of life
The life cycle of lead-acid batteries is incredibly brief. Even worse, more than 50% of people will live to a younger age than they were anticipated to. More frequent replacements are the outcome, which causes further waste management issues. Although lead batteries can be recycled, it’s not an easy procedure.
Lead-acid batteries are currently among the materials that are recycled the most on the earth. Nevertheless, 5% of batteries are disposed of in landfills or dumps, which results in millions of tons of lead being released into the environment.
For instance, if a lead-acid battery is frequently discharged to 50%, you can anticipate it to last between 500 and 800 cycles (or recharges). A lithium-ion battery that has been depleted to 20% can be cycled 5,000 times before it needs to be replaced.
Additional options to lead-acid batteries
As we previously stated, lithium-ion batteries outperform lead-acid batteries by a wide margin. They have a decently high energy density to start. Lithium-ion batteries for ships typically have energy densities between 125 and 600 Wh/L. You’re looking at a battery that has a 10x longer lifespan than a lead-acid battery with a 50–90 Wh/L.
Additionally, lithium-ion batteries charge far more quickly than lead-acid batteries. When compared to lead-acid batteries, which start to rapidly lose power at 50 percent, they can offer 85 to 100 percent of the total energy before needing to be recharged.
In addition to being increasingly employed in pure battery electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries are widely used in consumer portable applications. For industrial applications, many providers offer backup and power supplies, frequently in the form of packaged systems made from external batteries. Lead-acid batteries are threatened by them even though they are more expensive and still carry a premium over lead-acid batteries. They are also used in real-world demonstration projects.
All types of batteries have a substantial market opportunity in energy storage.
Battery that runs on solid state
The method energy is transmitted from the positive electrode to the negative electrode differs from conventional lithium-ion batteries, despite their similarities. Unlike traditional lithium-ion batteries, solid electrolytes are used in solid-state batteries instead of liquid electrolytes.
Furthermore, contemporary variations can have an energy density that is exponentially higher than lead-acid batteries and is 2.5 times that of today’s lithium-ion batteries!
Moreover, solid state is safer. The liquid inside lithium-ion batteries is extremely flammable and volatile. Solid-state batteries, however, use materials that do not ignite even when heated.
For many years, flow batteries have been under research. Because of their extended lifespan and significant storage capacity, they are now being recognized as being more appropriate for large-scale grid storage systems.
When production drops (for instance, when there is no wind), this stored capacity helps keep the system powered. The preferred technology in this context is thought to be flow batteries.
As more electric vehicles are used on the road, flow batteries might help lower the demand for lithium. We can save lithium for usage in vehicles and electric trucks while storing power on the grid with flow batteries.
Lithium-ion battery development
No matter the rate of discharge, lithium batteries have a storage capacity of 85–100%. Lead-acid batteries have a higher drain rate, which is close to 50%, and often offer less useful energy. Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive and difficult to install than lead-acid batteries.
Lead-acid batteries have accomplished their goal and helped us get to this point. That being stated, it’s time to continue. Future safety and sustainability are being paved by emerging technologies like lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries, and flow batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries have several advantages over other battery types, such as the followings:
Highest energy density
In comparison to other battery types of the same size, lithium-ion batteries offer a larger energy capacity, enabling ultra-high power densities that are far higher than those currently feasible with lithium-ion technology.
Outstanding charging effectiveness
Due to the smart charging algorithm used by the BMS, lithium-ion batteries experience less energy loss during charge/discharge cycles than other battery types. This is very helpful when storing a lot of energy, like in solar storage and electric vehicles.
Highly powerful discharge
High-power battery packs with high-power cell configurations can provide on-demand, high power to electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy storage systems.
Cut back on self-explosion. Although there are low self-discharge NiMH batteries, lithium-ion batteries by definition have low self-discharge.
High voltage emanates from the battery. In order to provide a specific voltage that can easily power a device, this means that fewer cells in the series string are required.
Extremely secure and thermally stable
Performance of lithium batteries depends greatly on the smart BMS, which serves as the brain of the battery and is in charge of sophisticated monitoring and management to guarantee safety, performance, charge rate, and extended service life.
For a given size and amount of energy storage, Light Lithium-ion batteries are substantially lighter than other battery chemistries (like lead-acid batteries). This is especially beneficial for uses like electric vehicles or small portable electronics.
Maximum Power lithium battery
With a market-defining selection of lithium-ion batteries for boats, off-grid solar setups, RVs, vans, and other vehicles, Maxworld Power Batteries is a charging leader. With only a fifth as much weight, Combat Batteries can provide two to three times the power in the same physical footprint. Along with that, they discharge 100% deeper and charge five times faster.