First ALABC HEV Demo Batteries Roll off the Line with Dramatic Performance Improvements
During the past several years the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) has targeted the improvement of the valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) battery for use in hybrid-electric vehicles. ALABC research has identified a number of modifications that can be made to VRLA batteries to improve their performance significantly under such duty. The design features, however, have not been tried in combination, nor tested in the field and so the ALABC launched a demonstration phase where batteries with these beneficial features are (i) constructed; (ii) performance tested in the laboratory; (iii) then evaluated in HEVs in the field. This demonstration phase began in January 2006.
To date, four companies have delivered the contracted batteries and initial test and performance data are incredibly encouraging. The new batteries are being supplied by East Penn and NorthStar Batteries in North America; Tudor Exide in Europe; and Furukawa Batteries/CSIRO in Asia. In addition, ALABC is also supporting the demonstration of a bi-polar lead-acid design from Sweden's Effpower, which is currently being road tested in a Honda Insight.
The success of these demonstration batteries has created an opportunity to communicate a very positive message about the capabilities of VRLA batteries in HEV duty, and such a campaign is now underway by the ALABC Public Affairs and Marketing Committee. More detail on each of the batteries and vehicle test programs will be covered in upcoming issues of Keeping Pace.
In the meantime, there is a prospectus document in circulation which details a further work plan and promotion schedule for the ALABC activities in 2007 and beyond. The program for 2007-2009 is designed to complete the technical work and its demonstration in vehicles and to make sure that auto manufacturers are able to design in lead-acid for their future offerings.