Batteries/Lead-acid Business/Asian Battery 030929

A Brief Visit to the Asian Battery Conference
(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.
Adobe Photoshop ImageThe Inaugural International Lead Medal was presented to John E. Mander of Pasminco Metals by Graeme Fraser-Bell of Intek-International.  John was founder and chair of all prior Asian Battery Conferences (ABC).  He is retiring from Pasminco after a long career serving the battery industry.  The person receiving the award is chosen by the ABC and EBC (European Battery Conference) committee.  In future years, the ILZRO (International Lead Zinc  Research Organization) will also participate in selecting an individual to receive this distinguished metal.  (Photo is by permission of George Zguris.)  
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.)  
Adobe Photoshop ImageJerome Cole of the International Lead Zinc Research Organization (ILZRO) presented a paper on RAPS (Remote Area Power Supply) and the growing market for Lead-acid batteries.   Mr. Cole’s organization through the ALABC (Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium)  has been involved in RAPS projects with VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead-acid) batteries.

In a RAPS system, electricity is generated by wind turbines, solar panels or micro hydro turbines and is then fed into a bank of specially designed batteries via a regular or other form of power controller.  Thus, the electricity is stored for use when needed.  The power can then be used directly from the batteries with DC applications or it can be passed via an inverter for use with normal mains appliances, according to information from  the Australian government’s Greenhouse Office. Australia is a country utilizing and promoting  RAPS technology.     Russell Newnham from CSIRO Energy Technology of Australia  presented “Advanced management strategies for remote-area power-supply systems.”

Each application for a remote power supply is unique because the following factors must be considered.  (Factors to consider are listed by Murdoch University  in Australia.

•Operating temperature range (e.g. -150 to +500)
•Self discharge rate (% per month)
•Cycle life to 80% depth of discharge (DOD)
•Charging efficiency from low state of charge (e.g. 80% DOD)
•Capacity (Ah) at 10 hr. and 100 hr. rates  (C10 and C100)
•Required frequencey for checking the electrolyte level and adding distilled or deionized water
•Ruggedness for transport to the site
•Resistance for overcharging
•Maintenance requirements

Flooded wet cell, tubular plate and gel or starved electorlyte cell  sealed Lead-acid are types of Lead-acid batteries that have been used.  (Photo is by permission of George Zguris.)
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.
Adobe Photoshop ImageThe 10th biannual Asian Battery Conference provided participants with an ambiance of being in the Orient.  Tea breaks, rather than coffee breaks, provided time to network with other attendees.  (Photo is By permission of George Zguris.)
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.”