The author with 35 years of experience in the plastics industry explains the evolution of the supply of lead sulfates in the plastics industry which, by 1990, demanded 160 million tons for vinyl production. Rather than make lead processing an in-house task, the plastics industry went to the chemical industry which honed the production to a highly scientific operation which produces lead sulfates with highly defined chemical and physical characteristics that minimize processing costs for the users, the plastics industries. In reviewing battery manufacturing, the story explains how greater scientific methodology and time/cost savings could be implemented in the manufacture of Lead-acid batteries if outsourced letharge replaced leady oxide altogether. Then if the same principles were extended to paste additives and other design requirements, new levels of cost reductions and higher quality could make the Lead-acid battery industry more competitive with other chemistries.
The Battery Man, March 2004, pp. 7-13*
Sulfuric Acid: Pumping up the Volume
This article is a concise history of sulfuric acid from the suggestion that it was known in the 10th century to the firm knowledge of how to prepare it in the late 15th century. Crude processes evolved through the 18th century when it was discovered that glass holding containers could be replaced with lead boxes. This ‘lead cathedral’ construction reached chamber sizes of 10 x 10 x 12 feet with 100 chambers in a facility. Sulfuric acid was used for making dyes, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid and cloth bleaching. In 1827 Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac built a tower which recovered the nitrogen oxide gasses reducing the consumption of saltpeter. A later contact process allowed for higher concentration, and finally catalytic processes developed. Today, sulfuric acid is the most widely produced industrial chemical worldwide.
Today’s Chemist at Work
September 2001, pp. 57-58