Though still the dominant rechargeable battery chemistry, lead–acid is experiencing a greater degree of market pressure from other systems, e.g., lithium ion, as well as greater environmental scrutiny to maintain its social licence to operate. Specifically, technical demands for lower gassing, enhanced lifetime, improved dynamic charge-acceptance and higher material utilization are placing more stringent requirements on the chemical composition of pure lead and its alloys. Meanwhile, legislation for lower emission levels and the appearance of other battery technologies in the recycling stream is driving new technology into the smelters that close the lifecycle. As indicated in the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) research programme, the latest requirements for lead and lead alloys are directed towards higher purity levels. Changes in the environmental management and handling of cells to assure the sustainability of lead recycling are also necessary.

Tim Ellis

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