I was talking with a friend of mine who specifies battery technologies for a living. Our conversation drifted to the topic of electric vehicles and, more specifically, the batteries for them.

I suggested the idea that many times the good old lead acid battery is hard to beat for many applications, even ones with severe weight requirements because:

  • Joule for joule they are heavier than newer battery types include Lithium chemistry variants, but they are not an order of magnitude heavier
  • Most everyone knows how to deal with a lead acid battery
  • The recycling process is very mature – at least in the US
  • Within practical limits, lead acid batteries handle over charging
  • Vehicle electrical systems are most often designed with the expectation a lead acid battery is strapped across the bus to help regulate the voltage

My friend added some more thoughts on why it is, perhaps, folly to think Lithium batteries will fulfill the goal of replacing today’s vehicles with all electric versions…

  • There is only so much Lithium in the world
  • There is not enough Lithium to make enough batteries to replace even a fraction of today’s vehicles
  • With a couple of exceptions, Bolivia has a large share of the world’s Lithium reserves and may become the new OPEC leader of Lithium

The particular post came about after reading this interesting article…

Can Better Lead-Acid Batteries Compete in a Lithium-ion World?

…which describes some promising enhancements to the good old lead acid battery.

I wonder if Axion Power is publicly traded…

BatteryThe 12 volt lead-acid battery for my backup sump pump does not seem to last for more than about one year. There is a “maintenance” battery charger that is, supposedly, designed to keep a battery topped off and ready to go should the backup power be needed.

I have heard the rumor putting batteries on the concrete floor will shorten their life. Research on the net suggests a few theories why this is or was true. Thoughts include:

  • Batteries on cold concrete floors develop a thermal gradient with the plate near the floor slightly colder than the top. This creates a slightly different potential which can mess with the balance of that cell. The idea that backs up this claim is the notion that submarine batteries bubble air through their battery’s electrolyte liquid thereby maintaining flow of the liquid which stabilizes the liquid’s temperature via mixing.
  • Battery housings use to be made of materials that conduct heat more thus making them more susceptible to the previous issue.

Perhaps I should use a flooded battery so I can top it off. Perhaps putting it on the shelf will make a difference. Then again, this battery and the one before it are from Wal-Mart.

Guess it is time to search out Solar Energy suppliers for their design guidance for systems that require batteries.