Battery research ‘critical in battle to reverse climate change’

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As global demand for clean and green energy gathers pace the world is entering a new era – the age of the battery.

All the world’s major economies, from the United States to Europe and China, are moving up a gear in the race to develop more sophisticated batteries.

Batteries have moved to center stage. New US President Joe Biden and EU President Ursula von der Leyen have both singled out sustainable batteries as key to a cleaner future, alongside technologies such as hydrogen.

In Europe, the bid to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050 is driven by the transformation in mobility, with a focus on drastic reduction in carbon emissions as the central goal.

Car makers are developing new hybrid and electric vehicles, fueling innovation in battery technologies and pushing new technological boundaries.

Modern lead batteries already tick boxes for sustainability and meeting the requirements of a circular economy, with almost 100% recycling rates in Europe and the Unites States and a homegrown, strategically autonomous manufacturing value chain on both continents.

It could not be a better time to become chairman of the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) – a collaboration between the world’s leading automotive battery manufacturers, researchers and scientists which is putting automotive battery performance at the forefront of research efforts.

In our cities, between countries, across continents, vehicles keep the world moving, generating value and batteries are increasingly central to new mobility.

Lead batteries, a mainstay technology, continue to play an important role in the transformation. They are the power behind starting conventional vehicles. And in start-stop vehicles and hybrids, advanced lead batteries deliver functions such as seamless restart and regenerative braking, and power the critical safety functions and electronics.

Meanwhile, auxiliary lead batteries used in electric vehicles are critical for the electric vehicle revolution as batteries used for powering safety features in the case of emergencies.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to battery technologies. Different battery technologies support different applications. What matters is ensuring we continuously innovate to develop the next generation in each technology field and demonstrate to governments across the globe the important role lead batteries play to achieve the goals of decarbonization.

The continued innovation of advanced lead batteries for automotive applications is delivered through research collaborations, many of which are included in CBI’s intensive technical program. Market analysts predict more than 80% of new vehicle sales in Europe being micro-hybrids by 2030, meaning the role of advanced lead batteries is only set to increase in the next decade.

And this means innovation continues to be a central goal of the Consortium and its members. As both Chairman of CBI and Vice President Industry and Governmental Relations EMEA at Clarios, battery research is at the core of my work. The universal take-up of AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries provides optimal performance for the automotive power train and Clarios is leading development and innovation in the technology through four global R&D centers to optimize the capture of recuperative energy in vehicles.

This ability to capture recuperative energy, also known as Dynamic Charge Acceptance (DCA), is featured in more advanced vehicles such as micro-hybrids, mild-hybrids and electric vehicles, and it is heavily reliant on advanced lead batteries. When a car brakes, the energy generated from braking is stored in the battery.

One of the highest priority goals of CBI, driven by market research which has identified significant growth for lead batteries in the global automotive markets, is to optimize the DCA performance of advanced lead batteries. It is crucial for governments and industry to work together to foster increased research and investment in all battery technologies, new and existing, to facilitate continued innovation to support electrification and decarbonization goals.

CBI’s current technical program is demonstrating exciting routes for improving DCA by up to 40% and this is just the beginning. Our research is spanning the globe. We’re working with universities and research institutes such as UCLA in California and the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany. We have projects with Ford in Europe and leading players from the U.S. lead battery industry. Each year, global battery experts and OEMs come together in interactive workshops organized by CBI to tackle the most pressing advancements underway in the automotive battery industry.

Clean mobility is a central pillar in facilitating an era-defining shift to help countries and continents become climate-neutral by 2050. Batteries remain central to meeting evolving demand for reliable, sustainable and high-performing batteries.

Dr Christian Rosenkranz

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