The complex interactions inside a lead battery while it charges and discharges remain mysterious, even 159 years after the technology’s invention. But now the lead battery is headed for a high-tech makeover that will make this sustainable mainstay product more appealing to the automotive industry and the power grid.

Under the terms of a new agreement signed with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, 14 members of the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) have joined forces with Electric Applications to grapple with some of their common challenges.

The research will be a collaborative effort between Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source (APS), and the laboratory’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering and Materials Science divisions.

The nine full members of the program include Crown Battery Manufacturing Company, Doe Run Resources Corporation, East Penn Manufacturing Company, EnerSys, Exide Technologies, Johnson Controls, NorthStar Battery Company, RSR Technologies and Trojan Battery Company. The five associate members are Superior Graphite, Microporous LLC, Cabot Corporation, Borregard Lignotech and Advanced Battery Concepts.

To date, Argonne has focused much of its attention on lithium-ion and beyond-lithium-ion batteries. Its researchers have blended different chemical elements in an effort to squeeze more energy out of the lithium-ion system. But the expertise and techniques that Argonne has tapped also apply to lead batteries, Karner said. He sees Argonne and the other members as a special breed of explorers and miners.

Read the full news release here.

Download the project fact sheet.