After more than two hundred years of development, lead-acid batteries are currently the most mature batteries in the field of rechargeable batteries. With the intensification of global energy consumption, electric vehicles are popular among consumers as a new type of environmentally friendly and energy-saving means of transportation. Due to technical bottlenecks, lithium batteries have not been able to break through the problems of voltage consistency and safety, and the cost of construction is too high, making it difficult to be popularized in the field of electric vehicles. However, lead-acid batteries have high safety and stability, and are low in cost, making them easier to popularize. Industry experts agree that lead-acid batteries should still be the mainstay for electric vehicles to achieve full marketization.
In the United States, lead-acid batteries account for more than 95% of the total lead used in the country. Due to sound regulations and effective management, lead emissions from the production of lead-acid batteries only account for 1.5% of the total emissions, and the U.S. government has excluded lead acid battery vrla production from major sources of lead pollution. A research report by an internationally renowned research institution shows that most of the lead pollution sources in the atmosphere come from automobile exhaust and aviation fuel, and less than 1% of lead-acid batteries come from it. In addition, whether lead-acid batteries will be replaced by lithium batteries in electric vehicles was also raised on the forum.
At present, the global rechargeable batteries can be divided into lead-acid batteries, nickel-hydrogen batteries and lithium batteries according to chemical principles, and can be divided into starting batteries, backup power sources, energy storage batteries and the motive battery according to their uses. Since the motive battery needs to provide driving force for the vehicle, it has high requirements on the storage capacity and discharge capacity of the battery. Lead-acid, nickel-metal hydride and lithium batteries have their own advantages and disadvantages in providing power, but from the comprehensive consideration of battery performance and use, lead-acid batteries are better.
Lead-acid batteries are the best of the three. Due to the use of chemical substances with higher activity than lead in nickel-metal hydride and lithium batteries, the voltage of a single battery is difficult to maintain the same, so it is difficult to maintain a stable voltage of the entire battery pack after being connected in series. As long as the voltage of one of the battery cells changes, the voltage of the entire battery pack will change accordingly, thereby affecting the discharge power of the entire battery. Especially for lithium batteries, the voltage of a single battery is even more difficult to control due to the use of more active lithium materials. During the charging and discharging process, the heat of the battery can easily lead to an increase in the activity of the lithium material. When it reaches its self-ignition temperature, it will burn. The sudden increase in temperature will directly lead to the explosion of the battery, which will endanger the personal safety of consumers.
The VRLA lead-acid battery is the lowest among the three batteries and is the easiest to market. Taking the electric bicycle motive battery as an example, the price of a lithium battery is three times that of a VRLA lead-acid battery with the same discharge efficiency, and the manufacturing cost is more than three times that of a VRLA lead-acid battery. However, the cost of a lithium battery for an electric vehicle is more than 10 times that of a VRLA lead-acid battery, which has far exceeded the spending power that ordinary people can afford, and has lost market purchasing power. In addition, as a recyclable metal, lead can supplement the shortage of raw materials and effectively reduce the problem of rising raw material prices due to raw material consumption. According to other new energy experts present at the meeting, the VRLA lead-acid battery recovery rate of lead is 98%, that is, most of the lead is recyclable. Since lithium materials are active metals, there is no effective recycling method in the world so far, which is also an important reason for the soaring price of lithium materials with the increase in the use of lithium batteries.
To sum up the factors, we can see that in order to realize the industrialization of electric vehicles, we must start from low speed. To achieve marketization, the first choice is to use lead-acid batteries. From the stability of technology to the generalizability of cost, lead-acid batteries are essential and important elements on the road to the industrialization of electric vehicles.