(Sept . 2003) The Asian Battery Conference (ABC) was held in the first week of September at the Shangri La Hotel in Bankok, Thailand. The purpose of the conference is to bring together more than 450 research and manufacturing experts in the lead battery business. The conference provides the opportunity for the Asian battery industry to meet on a regional basis and is sponsored by Pasminco Metals. The scope of the conference includes topics to gain more knowledge about the Asian battery industry, to encourage mutual co-operation within the region and to provide a forum for the introduction of new technology and equipment to Asian battery manufacturers.
Although suppliers and consultants from the U.S. and Europe were present, battery manufacturers from the U.S. were not in attendance, and there were very few from Europe. The North American battery market did not have an outstanding year. For example,in 2002, the telecom market was down 22% in contrast to the projection of a negative 12%, as forecasted by the Battery Council International (BCI) year earlier. Several UPS Lead-acid batteries designs are now manufactured in Asia, as reported by Bob Cullen from Hollingsworth and Vose, Inc., in his address to the BCI members at their May 2002 convention meeting in Cancun, Mexico. At that same convention, Doug Brown of Johnson Controls (JCI) discussed the battery market in the automobile industry; he reported that more and more vehicles are being built in emerging Asia and that their would be a 36.8% growth rate for the Asian region by 2007, thus giving the Far East a 7.8% market share. (BD note: These vehicles most likely will have batteries built in the Asian region.) In addition, the aftermarket shows reveals that even in the U.S., projections are that there will be more imports from Asia/Philippines in the future. (BD note: With an economy where trend lines are at best flat, U.S. manufacturers and perhaps those from Europe, may have felt that it would be best to put their marketing dollars in more fruitful applications leading to increasing sales and therefore did not attend this conference.)
Looking for a green image
Those involved in the manufacture of batteries in the Asian region are interested in creating a green environment. One of the keynote papers entitled “Green Lead - Oxymoron or Sustainable Development for the Lead-acid Battery Industry?” was given by Michael Roche of BHP Billiton. Green LeadTM is the use of best practice in all aspects of mining, transport, manufacture, use and reuse of Lead in order to minimize people and planet exposure to Lead. The goal is to take a ‘whole of lifecycle’ approach to lead and its impacts on people and the environment and analyze all of them.
A sampling of topics
The presentations at the conference had global representation. The chairperson, David Rand from CSIRO Energy Technology in Australia, introduced initial keynote speakers. Other chair persons were: Graeme Fraser-Bell from Entek International, Nobumitsu Hiral from Osaka University, Kevin Jamie from PT Pasindo Logam, John Manders from Pasminco, Doug Lambert from Battery Technology Services, Maura McDermott from Lead Development Association International, Addisom Rotrakan from Siam Battery Company.
In reviewing marketing and technical topics, most of the 32 papers discussed the technical opportunities and challenges in the industry. Advancements in electrochemistry, manufacturing and separator technology were highlighted. George Zguris, senior scientist with Hollingsworth & Vose and monthly correspondent in BD with his “Ask George” column , presented “The role of RBSM’s ‘density/solidity’ on separator and battery performance” as well as “Manufacturing improvements in plate processing and reduction in plate dusting with an active material additive.”