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Batteries/BCI/BCI 2006

Battery Council International (BCI)
A Leader with Positive Response  to  Change  
Celebrates 118th Convention
by Shirley and Donald Georgi

Adobe Photoshop ImageIf you were a cowboy from the wild-wild west who had gotten out of Dodge, heading for Tucson, you would have been elated to see the mini-mountains covered with Saguaro cacti and would have been looking forward to slaking that dust filled thirst with a few bumps of firewater at the local saloon. One hundered and thiry years, later members of the Battery Council International again headed for Tucson to experience the beautiful cactus and slake their thirsts at the watering hole at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa. More balanced than the old cowboy, BCI members came to network, to learn and to have some fun in the sun of Tucson’s hospitably dry climate. BCI Staffers had worked diligently to structure the meeting so that member goals were reached and exceeded, while pointing the trail into the future in which Lead-acid chemistry is firmly established and poised for new possibilities. BCI is unique in that it is both a meeting of competing battery parts suppliers and manufacturers, who over the decades have grown to enjoy common goals and have been known to step in to help competetors who have had an unfortunate experience. +

The May 2006 Battery Council International  Convention was celebrated at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Report and Spa nestled in the mountains and canyon country near Tucson.  Surrounding the resort were the giant saguaro cacti standing erect and tall  after having weathered the elements for well over a 100 years.  The symbolism could not have been more perfect for the Lead-acid  industry   which celebrated its leadership in a  technology that has continually supplied batteries through the good and bad times  for  over well over a century.

President’s Dinner - Celebrating A Successful Year:  The President’s reception and dinner featured a ‘1940’s Star-Spangled Show.’  Randy Hart, President of BCI, graciously greeted each person as they arrived at the event .  Music such as ‘Pennsylvania 6 -5000’ (and other Glenn Miller favorites)  as well as selections from ‘South Pacific’ were enjoyed.  After retelling a few of Bob Hope’s  ‘USO’ jokes, the band began a chorus of  ‘God Bless America.’ Many of the dinner guests stood to pay respects to a country and its military which has and is still defending the freedoms so dearly loved in the USA.

The 2007  Convention will be held in April at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  For anyone having interest in the Lead-acid battery business, this is the meeting to attend.    

Power Mart: This is a place for exhibitors to show their wares and provide a relaxed setting for business networking. Strategically timed over the lunch hour and early afternoon of the first day, Power Mart was unhampered with meetings and presentations so that all attendees could focus on contacting any vendor without being rushed.

Adobe Photoshop ImageIn the dwindling twilight of Day 1 sessions, Daramic and Holloingsworth and Vose (H & V) provided a patio reception with cocktails and sumptuous foods  well into the late evening. Attendees were able to meet old friends and new while mixing business, technical and social topics.

Daramic is the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of battery separators for automotive, industrial and specialty applications. H & V, founded in 1843, is one of the world’s leading nonwovens and fibrous materials manufacturers which has been developing and supplying battery separators to automotive, telecommunications, and motive power markets for over 25 years. +

Golf Tournament:

The golf tournament has been a staple of BCI and certainly is another informal networking opportunity which the attendees enjoy.

Supplier’s Reception: Perhaps much of the important networking is made through connectivity at the informal receptions where many business relationships  have developed into  binding friendships over the years.  The Pima Air and Space Museum  -  the largest air and space museum in the western United States with more than 250 aircraft from America’s flight history  -   provided the perfect setting for the  Suppliers’ Reception with attendees having an opportunity to tour a former Air Force One used by President John F. Kennedy and view “retired” military planes - many of which had Lead-acid batteries.


Visioning the Future

Kelly Carnes, CEO and President of TechVision21, opened the conference with her keynote, “Facing the Future: How Revolutionary Advances in Technology Will Shape the Lead Acid Battery Industry.”  Her address focused on the facts about the energy crisis  and the government’s response in providing dollars for advanced technological  research ultimately leading to a hydrogen economy.  Although the U.S. Government is placing dollars in the DOE/Freedom CAR programs for Lithium-ion systems and advanced battery research, there are no current dollars being invested in  Lead-acid.

However, she  saw opportunities for Lead-acid in:
• converging technologies, nanotechnolgy could offer new markets for Lead-acid batteries
• distributed energy systems could open large new markets for Lead-acid batteries.

Microsoft Excel ChartGlobal consumption of oil is growing.  World production is expected to increase by 57% from 2002 to 2025.  Growth is linked to  the  China Factor .

Battery growth in the U.S. and Western Europe is flat  whereas China’s needs are beginning to escalate rapidly.  In fact, when calculating the number of vehicles from data on the vehicles per Capita (18.5 per 1000 people) and the 2004 population of China (1,306,724,067), the result is an amazing 24,160,000 vehicles.  
(Figures in the chart are from Kelly Carnes’ Keynote Presentation at the BCI Convention, May 2006.) +    

For the Lead-acid battery industry, her  recommended responses for future growth, which could be stated  for almost any industry,  were to:
• Monitor global technology developments in batteries and alternative storage systems
• Use an options approach to investment in new technologies
• Get close to and stay close to customers to understand their technical market directions
•  Be prepared to quickly follow customers and markets

Business Sessions

Medical Management Guidelines for Lead-Exposed Adults -- Eugene Shippen, MD., a primary medical consultant to major manufacturers of Lead-acid batteries, spoke about the implications of these guidelines for Lead-acid Industry.  The panel has tended to push for  more stringent guidelines which  may not be appropriate.   Although the topic is a very complex issue, Dr. Shippen notes that workers should be removed from exposure if blood levels remain “>mcg/dL for >9 months, not because (he thinks) the amount of exposure will cause toxicity,

Adobe Photoshop Image Dr. Eugene Shippen serves on the   Expert Panel  of  the AOEC (Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics) which has been drafting  updates on  “Health Guidelines for Lead Workers.” +

but to prevent a trajectory that would lead to a high cumulative lead exposure.”   Currently, the AOEC  initiative could have far reaching implications for future trends for the industry if  realistic standards are not  set. The industry needs to get involved in future debates on the topic.

International and U.S. Regulatory and Legislative Issues. --  David Weinberg, Esq., counsel for BCI,  provided an update on the issues affecting the industry.  Some of the highlights are as follows:
•  The National Ambient Air Quality Standards mandated for lead by the Clean Air Act are under a Court deadline to be revised by September 2008.  
•The U.S. Department of Transportation is working on revising battery transport regulations.
•Thirty eight states have adopted the “BCI Model” for collection of recycling of batteries.
•The EU (European Union)  Battery Directive is expected to become final later this year.  
•Recycling of batteries, from 1999 - 2003, is the highest of all recycling rates - 99.2%.  New collection statistics will soon be available.

The State of the Association -- Maurice  Desmarais, Executive Vice President of BCI, announced three new websites sponsored by the organization.
1. -  Here employers  can recruit talent, and active job seekers can showcase their skills and work experience.
2. http://  -   This OnLine Marketplace site allows BCI members an on-line community to buy or sell their goods.  Anyone can access information, but only members can post.  
3.   -  This site is open to all interested persons to get facts (and discover myths)  about Lead-acid batteries.  The site also has links to member firms.

Adobe Photoshop ImageMaurice  Desmarais is the Executive Vice President of BCI. He noted that BCI’s goals were to increase member services, diversify sources of income and identity and attract new members.  In reference to new members, Mr. Desmarais said, “Yes, we are actively seeking new members outside of North America, in Europe and Asia.  While BCI’s focus continues to be on Lead-acid battery manufacturers, suppliers and marketers, we welcome anyone interested in BCI programs and services to participate.  Many of our programs including our Career Center and Environmental Conference are applicable to all in the battery industry.”

He is shown above holding the BCI Technical Manual prepared for all users of automotive Lead-acid batteries with specific reference to laboratory analyses and test methods for evaluation of battery performance, major component parts and raw materials used to manufacture these batteries. All BCI outlined test procedures were written by industry technical personnel who are members of the BCI Technical Committee. The documents are intended to provide a common means for the manufacturer and the customer to describe and compare desired battery performance.                                                              (Staff photo) +   

BCI will also hold an Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Protection Conference in Washington, DC.  on September 25 -26.  Some of the topics  covered at the conference will be ergonomic solutions at battery plants and smelters, shipping new and used batteries and using personal air samples to evaluate ventilation system effectiveness.    

A Report from EUROBAT - -  Guilio Dolcetta gave his report via electronic  transmission from Brussels.  EUROBAT represents 90% of the market for European manufacturers of automotive and industrial batteries.   Two changes in ownership were noted: SAFT and JCI (Johnson Controls, Inc.) formed a joint venture this past year and BAE of Germany was purchased  by Centurion of the Netherlands.  

The outlook for the automotive battery market  from 2004 through 2008 is not expected to change significantly.  Total battery market volume is slowly increasing with the Aftermarket (Replacement)  segment up and the OE (Original Equipment) segment recovering.  The largest markets remain in Germany,  Italy, France, the UK and Spain.  However, in the period between 2004 and 2008, the OE market in Central Europe is expected to show a 13.6% increase.   In Europe, the battery life span index for cars and light commercial vehicles is five years and  two months.

In the Industrial markets, unit growth for Motive Power in 2005/2006 is between 2 and 4  percent/year.  Much of the growth is in Eastern Europe.   For Standby Power, the market growth is between 3 and 4 percent/year.  Although there are added opportunities for batteries as broadband and wireless growth expands with 3G, there is also more competition from imports.  The high Euro also has an impact on the degree of growth.

Lead,   a heavy weight for the industry -- In presenting “The North American Outlook for the Lead Market,” Dick Amistadi, a  consultant for Hammond Lead Products, forecasted  a deficit.  In 2005 and 2006, the deficit  was  already 125 metric tons and the number is expected to increase to  between 150 and 200 metric tons by 2010.  

Recycling of lead has leveled out,  is already near  peak capability  and can only increase by 1-2 percent per year. With an increase in the average life of  an SLI (Starting, Lighting and Ignition) battery and a recycling rate of Lead-acid batteries by over 99%, there is not a significant  increase in supply of  secondary lead.      

With the closing of a number of lead mines,  U.S. primary lead production has been on a declining trend  for the past 25 years.   In reviewing North American lead production since the beginning of the new millenium, figures show a peak of 675,000 metric tons between 2000 and 2001, but a drop to less than 400,000 metric tons by 2005.  

In summary, Mr. Amistadi said that low impurity lead (99.99+) will remain tight.  Premiums will need to remain high to attract imported lead from China and Australia. Both North America and Europe are  in a deficit market for lead.

Microsoft Excel ChartBecause of improvements in SLI (starting, lighting and ignition) batteries, the time between battery replacements for vehicles is longer.  This also affects the amount of spent batteries (scrappage)  that are available for recycling.  

( Figures in the chart were given at  BCI’s May 2006 Convention  in    Richard Amistadi’s presentation ,” North American Outlook for the Lead Market.”) +

Peter Hochschild of Hochschild Partners, LLC,  gave an overview of the global lead market with an emphasis on the  perspective of traders  -  traders in futures, physical lead metal traders, lead concentrate traders, full service lead traders and hedge funds. All want to create profitability and a self-sustaining business out of this metal which is so vitally needed for Lead-acid batteries.  Traders are seeing  opportunities in lead shortages and deficits.   

Microsoft Excel ChartThe production category includes both primary and secondary sources.  Both North America and Europe are  in a deficit market for lead.
(Figures in the chart were given at  BCI’s May 2006 Convention  in   the presentation, “Trader’s Perspective of the Lead Market” by Peter Hochschild, Managing Director  of Traxys North America, LLC.) +     

Forecasts and Projections

Batteries for Light vehicles -- The “2005 Battery Shipment Review and Three-year Forecast”  was presented  by S. Tucker Roe of Daramic, LLC.  He noted that this mature market would have an annual global  growth rate of  2.4% between 2000 and 2010.  Noting that there were 55 million vehicles produced at the beginning of this decade,  he said the numbers were projected to increase to 70 million by 2010.  (Data quotes are from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ AUTOFACTS.)

Microsoft Excel ChartThe graph reflects U.S. Trade Data for the 6-digit Harmonized Tariff (HTS) 850710 which is defined as Lead-acid Storage Batteries OF A Kind Used For Starting Piston Engines.

A drive to lower costs has impacted US-based producers.  Not since 1997 have exports exceeded imports.  The past five-year aggregate average annual growth rate of Lead-acid battery imports is nearly 12 percent.  

Mr. Tucker noted, “With respect to U.S. exports, 90 percent of reported exports were shipped to Canada, or roughly 6.7 million, of the 7.7 million units.”  

(Information from “2005 Battery Shipment Review and Three-year Forecast by S. Tucker Roe. Data source is the U.S. ITC Trade Data Web. Information was downloaded on March 6, 2006.)  +

In reference to North American shipments of batteries in 2005, the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacture) shipments were 21.4 million units, down 4% from the 22.3 units reported in 2004.  Replacement batteries had an overall growth of 1.6% in 2005 verses 2004, with shipments of  95.7 million and 94.2 million  respectively.  For every five batteries shipped  for  OEM  there are five  batteries shipped as Replacements.  

Microsoft Excel ChartThe graph reflects U.S. Trade Data for the 6-digit Harmonized Tariff (HTS) 850710 which is defined as “Lead-acid Storage Batteries OF A Kind Used For Starting Piston Engines.’

The U.S. imports between 22 million and 23 million units a year.  Commenting on imports, Mr. Roe said, “The volume of battery imports from Asia must be watched for impact on domestic production.”

(Information from “2005 Battery Shipment Review and Three-year Forecast by S. Tucker Roe. Data source is the U.S. ITC Trade Data Web. Information was  downloaded on March 6, 2006.) +

The impact of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) -- Mr. Roe also discussed “much ado about HEVs.”  HEVs have had a high profile in the news.  Currently, at least in the U.S., consumers  are buying them based on social consciousness rather than for  true  economic savings; there is as Mr. Roe stated,  “relatively insignificant cost payback for the additional cost of current models.”  However, new  models are coming on board for 2006; they  are the Lexus GS 450h, Nissan Altima, Saturn Vue and the Toyota Camry.  More .SUVs and pickup hybrids  will appear on the sales floors in 2007.  Because of the relatively few years that HEVs have been on the market and the low volumes of total sales, there is no way to accurately predict the longevity of the battery packs  (Nickel-metal hydride).  

Microsoft Excel ChartThe chart shows the actual combined OEM and Replacement battery shipments from 2001 through 2005 for vehicles from 2001 through 2005 with an estimate through 2010 at an average annual growth rate of approximately 1.5 percent. (Information is  from the “2005 Battery Shipment Review and Three-year Forecast” by S. Tucker Roe. The data source is the Battery Council International.) +

HEVs are transitioning  from the embryonic to the growth stage.  ITT projects that total global vehicle sales will reach 1.5 million vehicles by 2010; PricewaterhouseCoopers is more conservative and projects that there will only be 1.1 million by that date.  These figures indicate that HEVs may represent approximately  2.0 percent of the market by 2010.

From the viewpoint of the Lead-acid battery manufacturers (as stated by Mr. Roe), “the emergence of hybrid electric vehicles is not seen to be a disruptive technology during the forecast period (2010).”  In fact,   HEVs do not exclude Lead-acid technology;  a small Lead-acid battery is found in each vehicle to start the combustion engine as needed.

Batteries for the Industrial (Stationary and Motive Power) Battery Market -- Bob Cullen of Hollingsworth & Vose Company had great news to report. The Industrial Battery Market in North America experienced a positive  year in 2005, in both the Stationary and Motive Power markets, with sales up 14 percent.  The combined two segments totaled sales of $1,176 million.  This was greater than the 4.5 percent growth predicted by the industry last year.  And the future looks bright, too.  By 2008, the forecasted figure  is expected to rise $183 million,  providing  a grand  total of $1,359 million.  

The top three industrial battery segments which  will comprise almost 90% of the $1,359 marketplace in 2008 are: Stationary Power/Telecommunications, Stationary Power/UPS and Motive Power.

Microsoft Excel ChartThe largest segments  in the  Stationary power market are Telecommunications (57%) and UPS (27%).  Currently, industrial trucks (i.e., forklifts)  make up over 94% of the Motive Power Market.

(Data for the  for the North American Market including the forecasted sales figures were gathered  from a BCI Membership Survey, a compilation of sales results and forecasts from 11 North American Battery manufacturers.  Sales are from North American producers to North American customers.   

(The information was presented from “The Industrial Battery Three-Year Forecast Report” by Bob Cullen of Hollingsworth & Vose Company. ) +

Stationary Power/Telecommunications -  This North American market (without imports) is expected to have increased battery sales (> 25 Amp hour)  of $342 million by 2008.  Some  of the BCI  Lead-acid manufacturers note that the market will remain flat for 2006 since Capital Expenditures in the Telecommunication infrastructure are still recovering from the 2001 “dive” in the market.  Beyond 2006,  this  battery sector  is  projected to grow at least 3 to 5 percent annually as global spending on Telecom services, already over $2 trillion today, will continue growing at a 10% pace through 2010.   
Stationary Power/UPS -  “Large (> 25 Amp hour)  UPS battery growth is forecasted at about 4% annually from 2006 - 2008, after a modest decline in 2006....  The latest driver in this market is the explosive growth of the Internet and network services,” according to data gathered by Bob Cullen.  North American Lead-acid battery sales (without imports),  as projected by a BCI survey,  are projected to be $207 million by 2008.
Motive Power - Orders for batteries for industrial trucks (i.e., forklifts) account for 94 percent of this market.  “For a period of 2006 to 2008, we are forecasting solid annual growth of  9% for the forklift segment,” Bob Cullen noted.  “Sales of these batteries are primarily replacements and to independent distributors, i.e, through non-OEM channels.”  If the current economic growth continues at a 3% GDP pace, sales of batteries  for forklift trucks should do well. This market segment is sensitive to overall economic trends.    

Microsoft Excel ChartGrowth exceeded expectations.  As Bob Cullen pointed out, “The trend in GDP growth from the second half of 2004 continued through all of 2005 with a solid 3.5% growth.  Couple this with increased business spending driven by the need to expand during this robust economy and this results in a very strong year, in particular, for Motive Power in 2005.”   

(The information was presented from “The Industrial Battery Three-Year Forecast Report” by Bob Cullen of Hollingsworth & Vose Company. ) +

The China Factor  -- Over  the past ten years,  North American sales of batteries for the Stationary Power market has been greatly affected by manufacturing in China.  There are very few  “under 25 Amp hour” batteries manufactured in North America since the major portion of this  market has been taken over  by China and sold by Asian manufacturers to North American companies.  BCI no longer tracks data  for this  “under 25 Amp hour” category.  However, as Bob Cullen noted, “BCI estimates that there are approximately $165 million in (Lead-acid) batteries imported into North America.”

Microsoft Excel ChartThe South America and Asia-Pacific (ACAP) region  will be the highest volume producers of vehicles by 2009. As a percentage of global vehicle production, this region has a growth rate of approximately 28% in 2000 to slightly over one-third in 2005.

China is leading the group.  It has a double digit AAGR (Annual Average Growth Rate) of 13.1 percent.

(Information is from the “2005 Battery Shipment Review and Three-year Forecast” by S. Tucker Roe. The data source is PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ AUTOFACTS.) +

Competitive pressures from Asia are increasing, not only from China but also Korea and Taiwan.  It is anticipated that there will be more pressure in from these countries as they expand their manufacturing   and exporting of   midsize batteries (30 - 150 Amp hour) to North America.        

Technical Sessions

Adobe Photoshop ImageAttendee Mark Stevenson, the technical manager of Zinfix Ltd., will be presenting a paper at the 10th European Lead Battery Conference in Athens in September of this year. One of the items which he will address is the impact of higher fuel costs on the lead industry. Staff photo +

Emerging Technology

Bipolar Batteries, Dr. Andrew Loyns

Bipolar has always been a hoped-for addition to battery construction. By eliminating the connection from one positive plate to the next negative plate in a series connected battery, one electrode can do the work of two, saving volume, weight, internal resistance, and hopefully cost. These elusive advantages are always mitigated by the problem of isolating the electrolyte of one cell from the other. Now, a U.K. group, Atraverda Ltd., is pursuing the development of the electrodes for bipolar batteries with R & D focused on a unique electrode construction based on a thermoset plastic matrix. Electrode conductivity is provided by a titanium sub oxide material which has metal-like conductivity but the corrosion resistance of a ceramic.

Prototype cycle life data shows 350 cycles at 100% depth of discharge, and the utilization of active material is increased from 30% to 60% at the positive surface and is increased from 30% to 50% at the negative surface.

There seems to be two separate features of this offering by Atraverda; one being the unique thermoset electrode and the other the bipolar construction. Work appears to be in the early stages of R & D.

Graphite-Powered Batteries, Dr. Robert Nelson

Firefly Energy Inc. is pursuing a disruptive technology within the Lead-acid battery business with its graphite foam electrodes which replace the heavy lead electrodes. Lead has been used ever since Planté invented the  practical Lead-acid battery in 1859. Since the negative plate ‘active material’ is lead and the positive plate active material is lead oxide, the underlying lead electrode is a natural source of the active material chemistry and also provides retention properties to the lead oxide. Add to that advantage the ruggedness and high conductivity of lead in the electrode, and it is easy to see why Lead-acid batteries have historically been made with lead plates.

Lead is not critical to the electrode chemistry if a comparable and compatible material can be found. Other metals would complicate the electrochemistry, but forms of carbon such as graphite have sufficient conductivity to provide the electrode function. Firefly has found that a foam graphite electrode can both function and provide many advantages for Lead-acid battery applications.

One easily  understandable advantage is the greater surface area provided by the foam material with its myriad of pockets all covered with active material and receptive to electrolyte storage. The greater surface area produces higher power density. Specific power is projected to be in the range of 260 Wh/kg to 900 W/kg, and specific energy is projected to increase from the 20-30 Wh/kg of lead electrode batteries to 35-50 Wh/kg for the graphite foam batteries. In an automotive starting-lighting-ignition (SLI) battery, this is an advantage which could result in a smaller, less costly battery.

The carbon material is inert to corrosion which disintegrates lead current collectors and thus life is extended, while life shortening large sulfate crystals do not form. Data presented showed better sulfation recovery after stand-and-discharge testing while cycle life for hybrid profiles exceeded that of flooded cells.

Over the years, many alternative concepts have come and gone, so with this new technology, the measure of the possibility for success has to be in progressive accomplishments. Firefly’s strategy is to first  build batteries with the graphite foam negative plate for deep cycle applications and then progress to batteries with both electrodes in the graphite foam construction for high power applications. There is already some data becoming available, and recent award of patents is a positive step. The U.S. 2006 Defense appropriation bill has $2.5 million earmarked for Firefly to pursue further development for military applications.

Adobe Photoshop ImageJerry Boylan, the Contributing Editor of Battery Man magazine, was active during the Power Mart, giving examples of BCI’s support with publications such as the Battery Service Manual which he is holding. All of the BCI publications are available for ordering at the BCI website:

BD has some competitive empathy for Jerry, in that although he has a fine group of people to build Battery Man, he is hampered by the lack of a loving, although sometimes politically incorrect, Yellow Labrador on staff. (BD Photo) +

Lead-Acid for Hybrids Dr. Patrick Moseley

During the mid - 1990s, when the California Electric vehicle program was active, Lead-acid was the only available and practical chemistry. As the transition was made to hybrids, the emerging Nickel-metal hydride   chemistry became more popular despite its greater cost. Now, as the hybrid market grows from zero in 2000 to 55,000 in 2005, Lead-acid manufacturers would like to garner a share of the market because their battery chemistry may have price advantages over Nickel-metal hydride and Lithium chemistries.

Lead-acid has not only a lower energy density problem, but it also has a performance problem in delivering repeated high rate charge and discharge capability in the region of 20-80% depth of discharge for tens of thousands of cycles.

To consolidate the improvement on Lead-acid for hybrid applications, the ALABC (Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium) has consolidated work to develop hybrid Lead-acid batteries.

Ordinary automotive Lead-acid batteries  experience failure due to positive plate grid corrosion and active material shedding. The HEV cycle profile adds another failure mode with accumulation of sulfate on the negative plate, referred to as Type-3 premature capacity loss. ALABC research is focusing on methods to reduce this problem.

One ongoing program in the U.K. is the RHOLAB project (For information see BD # 86, pp.3-12.) which replaces the Nickel-metal hydrides of a Honda Insight with spiral wound VRLA batteries to first prove and improve on-the-road capability and later evaluate possible cost advantages.

In pursuing the hybrid battery program, current approaches include adding extra connecting tabs to the plates, increasing the carbon content of the negative active mass, and experimenting with second generation batteries in 12 to 600 Volt vehicles.

Recharging a Forklift Battery in 5 Minutes, Vladimir Pavlvic, Edison Source

Current experience shows that the market share for electric forklifts  is not increasing. Currently, the IC (internal combustion) forklifts dominate the heavy duty, three shift market because of the advantage of quick refueling even though the cost of ‘electric refueling’ is three times lower than that of LP gas. If rapid recharge were available, the potential market  for electric forklifts should increase.

The limitation on rapid recharge is the current limit during recharge. If a 36 Volt, 875 Ah battery were recharged in 4-6 minutes, an average charge rate of 5,250 Amps would be required. In all practicality there is a maximum charge capability of 600 Amps. But if the forklift battery were to use a higher Voltage of 312 Volts, a 30.3 kW battery would only require 4-6 minutes for recharge. Since current hybrid auto components use the higher Voltage, the technology is now commercially available and redesigned forklifts could be more competitive on refueling time with high Voltage busses. The pathway to this improved performance is now identified and technically available. It requires forklift manufacturers to implement such improvements.

Adobe Photoshop ImageDon Karner of Electric Transportation Applications provided information on batteries built by Northstar Battery Company. These uniquely tailored Lead-acid batteries are for the hybrid electric application requiring high cycling capability in the 20-80 % state-of-charge range. They utilize carbon black and graphite additives to the negative plate resulting in a 20% reduction in thickness. (Staff photo) +

Materials and Manufacturing

Fully Automatic Cast-on-Strap Operations, Chris Glascock, Glascock International, LLC

This was a product overview of Glascock International, LLC’s current state-of-the-art battery assembly machine. It combines the plate assemblies with conductive lead lugs and straps which are formed with on board moulds making low resistance molten connection to the plates and accurate positioning of the assembly. Brushing, fluxing and tinning operations prepare surfaces for casting.

The machine can produce up to 6 batteries per minute and is configurable for car or truck batteries using jig-boxes. Unloading stations operate to produce 5.5 batteries per minute.   

It’s Not Easy Bein’ a Battery Separator, Rick Wimberly, Microporous Products, L.P

From the battery separator standpoint, the correct selection is anything but a passive element in battery design and construction. Moving from Volta’s impregnated felt fabric to Ritter’s coarse cloth and Plante’ s slotted rubber, today’s separators employ a myriad of materials to provide the complementary performance of the variety of applications to which batteries are directed.

A principle requirement of the separator is to assist in maximizing performance, safety and reliability. To this end, today’s popular materials include glass and cellulose fibers, PVC, porous rubber and polyethylene. The choice is further complicated with cost consideration, and handling requirements of automated machinery used to assemble the cells.

Comparisons of microporous materials such as polyethylene, and polyethylene/rubber as well as PVC manufacturing methods were presented.

An example of the separator selection complexity can be seen in two different flooded Lead-acid applications. A deep cycle battery has relaxed requirements for low volume porosity and increased back web thickness, whereas a SLI (Starting Lighting, Ignition) battery has critical requirements for pore volume and back web thickness.

Ultimate property convergence is not applicable as trade-offs are always a part of the selection process. A design which requires a thicker back web cannot obtain sufficient free volume space if a concurrent requirement for thinner thickness is implemented, resulting in lower discharge performance.

The implementation of separator quality has been greatly enhanced with the BCI standardization of test methods for both flooded and recombinant separator materials. Listing of  generally accepted materials testing was included to complete the definition of separator properties.

Adobe Photoshop ImageLinda Wing collects data from BCI members and is responsible for compiling statistical and recycling reports. In this photo she is holding the Battery Replacement Data Book which is constantly updated by BCI as the bible of Lead-acid transportation batteries. This text and all other BCI publications are available for ordering at the BCI website: (Staff photo) +

Real-time Metal Impurities of Separators, Steve Downes, Hollingsworth and Vose

The more facts that are known about the components of a battery, the greater the probability for a product with high manufactured quality. A critical element of each battery is the separator, and an ongoing monitoring of separator material is necessary to insure that metal impurities are not reducing performance. There are currently 22 metallic elements which could be present in AGM (Absorptive Glass Mat) separator materials.

The standard quality test for separator material is the ‘BCIS 03’as detailed in the BCI Battery Technical Manual. This is a wet chemistry test involving the removal of samples for destructive testing via immersion in sulfuric acid  for three hours and performing filtrations to determine the type and amount of impurities. Since the final results are not available for several days, there is a potential for large inventories of in-process contaminated materials to be scrapped.

As an alternative, H & V (Hollingsworth & Vose) technical staff suggests employing a portable X-ray Fluorescence spectrometer to shorten the analytical time from days to minutes. Results can be obtained as the material is being processed.

The spectrometer uses a technique called fluorescence in which  the sample is irradiated with X-ray photons causing the elemental electrons to rise to higher orbits. As the electrons drop back to their regular orbit, a signature X-ray for each element is emitted which is then sensed and identified by the spectrometer.  Without need for wet chemistry, the measurement is both convenient and timely. Sensitivity is well within the range requirements needed for separator quality in battery applications.

H & V warns that the Spectrometer should not replace the BCI method, which is more sensitive, but should be used to reduce the possibility of a contaminated separator. Special consideration for the interpretation of measurements with both the conventional methods and spectrophotometer was included in the presentation.

Use of micronized Tetrabasic Lead Sulfate, Dr. David Boden, Hammon Lead Products

Most people understand the adage ‘time is money’ but what if the adage is appended to read, ‘time and energy are much more money.’ For the Lead-acid manufacturer in the age of $75/BBL oil, the appended version becomes doubly relevant in positive plate curing with an additive which can reduce the high temperature cure from days to hours. An additional benefit appears to be greater battery cycle life.

The process traditionally involves exposing the plates to high temperatures (176 0F) for  multi-day periods to convert the leady oxide paste to lead oxide with a high concentration of tetrabasic lead sulfate. This improves the plate durability leading to reduced capacity loss due to active material softening and shedding. The conversion typically can take four days.

The SureCureTM additive appears to be fine 5-10 ìm TTBLS (tetrabasic lead sulfate) crystals which are added to the paste mix prior to application. Data presented shows the cure to be implemented at a lower temperature (130-145 0F) with complete conversion after 8 hours.

Examination by the scanning electron microscope of the cured paste shows crystal size remaining in the 5-10 micron range, suggesting superior charge acceptance. Golf cart batteries prepared with the additive demonstrated about 100 additional life cycles over batteries made with the traditionally cured plates.
Alternative Chemistries

Large Lithium-ion Batteries, Takefumi Inoue, GS Yuasa,

A product of consolidation in April, 2004, GS Japan Storage Battery and Yuasa Corporation are now one company, GS Yuasa, which produces Lead-acid, Nickel-metal hydride and Lithium-ion batteries.

The presentation by Mr Inoui focused on the state of large Lithium-ion batteries which find application in transportation and may displace Nickel-metal hydride in many of the current hybrid applications. The reason for this displacement would be the higher energy density of Lithium-ion.

He described the chemistry, current configuration and the place of Lithium-ion in various markets. For the HEV application, the design provides nominal 50 Wh/kg of specific energy and 1500-2000 W/kg of specific power.  For EV applications, the specific energy would provide 60-100 Wh/kg and specific power would be reduced to 800 W/kg. Space applications have high specific energy in the region of 150 Wh/kg, and 800 W/kg specific power. In the high specific energy batteries, cobalt is the positive electrode addition, while in the lower power applications, manganese is predominant in the positive electrode.

GS Yuasa sees application for the large Lithium-ion cells in hybrid autos, busses, cycles, railways, trams, robots, deep sea vehicles, aircraft and satellites. The LSE series has been launched in a commercial GEO (Geosynchronous) satellite and in an experimental LEO (Low Earth Oribit) satellite. The LVP series battery is in qualification for the Boeing Dreamliner aircraft. While Lithium-ion has established itself as a dominant chemistry, its expansion into large power markets must be demonstrated by these initial programs to determine its performance, safety and cost effectiveness.

Life, Market and future of Nickel-metal hydride, Robert Gruenstern, Johnson Controls

This presentation was largely a business update. Johnson Controls, the  Lead-acid Diehard supplier, is repositioning itself to include Nickel-metal hydride and Lithium-ion for vehicle applications. To facilitate its expansion, JCI has entered a joint venture with Saft, which has large axial Nickel-metal hydride and Lithium-ion offerings, plus global presence which will allow the two companies to better compete in European and Asian automotive markets. JCI has extended its penetration into automotive markets with larger modules and subsystems of the auto assembly. With the combination of JCI’s capability and the product offering and global presence of Saft, there are possiblities that JCI could garner a greater share of the vehicle electrical system business both for standard and hybrid vehicles.

Data on its mini-pack Nickel-metal hydride module shows a 2.1% loss of power capability after 210,000 cycles when tested according to the FreedomCar 50 Wh cycle test.

Adobe Photoshop ImageHollingsworth and Vose was represented at the Power Mart by presenters Steve Downs (L) and Bob Cullen (C) plus Tom White (R). This year, H & V featured its EnergyGuardTM separator, a high strength VRLA separator, which is a combination material that blends the best properties of microglass and the added strength of synthetic fiber. The separator has significantly higher puncture resistance that leads to a lower incidence of shorting in batteries produced with all grid types. Bob says that one can think of it as the third electrode of a battery, adding to performance.

There are those who are  wondering where Geroge Zguris is in the picture. At the time, he was deeply engaged in a technical conversation with a customer. +

Committee Meetings

The convention is also a time to have members address ongoing issues formalized in dedicated committees. Each has a prepared written agenda which includes approval of minutes, old business, new business, and identification of the next meeting. There will be a BCI Fall Committee Days group of meetings to update the work.

The first meeting was the BCI Board of Directors meeting with an obvious agenda.

ALABC (Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium) Steering Committee Meeting

Data Book Committee

Subjects included:
     Data book review
     Power Sports section
     BCI web site review
     GAO-06-151R Federal Water Requirements
     Election of officers

Deep Cycle and Electric Vehicle Battery Committee

Subcommittees reported on ALABC liaison and update, plus comparative and proposed 50% DOD Cycle Life Standards. A new proposed Standard (BCIS-18) for Deep Cycle fast battery charging and Voltage limits on battery chargers was discussed. The search for a renewable energy association returned no results  which might indicate that BCI itself might be a central organization to facilitate new generation energy and address transportation issues for all battery chemistries, fuel cells and photovoltaics.

Adobe Photoshop ImageJim Klang is a senior staff scientist at Midtronics, Inc. In addition to being a very pleasant person, Jim is extremely knowledgeable about many technical aspects of batteries and their business markets.

He is holding Midtronics latest diagnostic platform which diagnoses every part of a vehicle’s electrical system. (Staff photo) +

Industrial Battery & Charger Committee

Old business form the October 13, 2005 meeting included update on fire codes, a discussion of charger efficiency, a proposed 7th edition of UL 1236, update on CARB and review of the  NEMA IB-7-1987 as a BCI Standard. The industrial battery and charger statistical report included an open forum on the data.

Subcommittee reports include motive power, standby, industrial plus ohmic measurement standards for stationary applications.

Product Information Committee

A statistical program update included monthly reports, annual group size report, annual channel report and an open forum on the statistical program. The proposed web site of Batteries is to be discontinued.

Product Safety Committee Breakfast Meeting

Business topics included the Department of Transportation changes, revues of the Recommended Practices Handbook  updates and  Proposition 65 status and changes (Prop. 65 refers to the The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, and was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986.) The Proposition was intended by its authors to protect California citizens and the State's drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals.)

Technical Committee

Subjects included:
     IEC TC21/WG@ Ad Hoc Working Group
     Review and update of the Technical Manual
     Silver use in Lead-acid batteries
     Oxide test methods
     Sulfuric acid specification
     Battery Service manual
     Battery related terminology
     Worn out battery survey
     DOT testing requirement
     Statistical methods for calculating product compliance
     BCI rate study
     UL document

Suppliers Marketplace

Private meeting for Powermart exhibitors


BCI has always been a forum for Lead-acid battery manufacturers because it was created at a time when Lead-acid was a predominant chemistry for all batteries other than primary flashlight cells. In the past 15 years, there has been an emergence of other battery chemistries such as Nickel-metal hydride and Lithium-ion. There is no common ground organization to represent these chemistries as there is no organization to represent ancillary power products such as fuel cells, photovoltaics and  flywheels. While it may seem an overwhelming task, BCI is the only existing organization which could extend its unique forum to embrace these allied technologies. Perhaps the work could begin with new committees within BCI staffed by volunteers from the new technologies. Their work could lead to other chemistry meetings with the same need fulfillment found so successful in BCI as it is today.