Boom in utility energy storage demand drives advanced battery research

Source: press release, 15 March 2021

Enqin Gao, Chief Engineer of R&D, observes the voltages of battery cells during the PSoC Cycling test in Hammond Group’s state-of-the-art lead battery lab
Enqin Gao, Chief Engineer of R&D, observes the voltages of battery cells during the PSoC Cycling test in Hammond Group’s state-of-the-art lead battery lab (photo: Hammond Group)

As part of the new suite of energy storage research projects launched by the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI), Hammond Group Inc. and East Penn Manufacturing have teamed up to meet the needs of the utility storage market.

Increased demand for energy storage in the utility sector has resulted in a broad spectrum of application developments for advanced batteries, with the global grid-scale stationary battery market predicted to exceed USD 40 billion by 2030.

We are in the age of the battery. From frequency regulation where electricity grids are provided with higher levels of stability, to residential demand reduction to manage the cost of energy use, there is an extraordinary demand for batteries. By increasing flexibility in power systems, energy storage batteries are fundamental for the integration of renewable energy into the grid.

From North America and Europe to Asia, advanced lead batteries are being used by utilities to provide critical energy storage needs. And as a technology always innovating, the ground-breaking research collaboration with Hammond and East Penn will directly feed into market demand by studying vital electrode components in lead batteries to explore how they impact new performance needs.

For utility companies switching to batteries for storage, the key technical parameters required are enhanced cycle life and high performance at energy storage system duty cycles. For energy storage system applications, lead batteries are utilised at both partial-state-of-charge (PSoC) and in high depth-of-discharge (DOD), a demanding profile for any battery technology.

One of the key ways lead battery performance has been enhanced over its 150-year history to meet enhanced technical demand is through the use of expander additives in the electrode, such as barium sulphate. Hammond and East Penn’s research will explore how the additive size, treatment and morphology can be adapted to benefit duty cycles in a typical energy storage system.

Dr Matt Raiford, Technical Manager at CBI, says, “This exciting research will be critical to increasing the cycle life of batteries developed to match those commonly used in energy storage systems. By studying the impact of different barium sulphate expander additives on electrode behaviour, new insights will be delivered into maximising the performance of energy storage lead batteries.”

“This will be critical for the expansion of lead battery uptake by utilities and renewable energy companies across the globe looking to add battery storage to their systems,” adds Dr Raiford.

As a global Consortium, the work of CBI is dedicated to fostering innovation in advanced lead batteries for the benefit of its membership and for wider market needs as identified in our technical roadmap. This novel research will deliver the best expander for energy storage applications, with a direct ripple-effect in contributing to the enhanced product performance for CBI’s membership.

Through synergy between research and manufacturing, the lead battery industry is innovating to adapt to evolving market demand and technical needs of societies across the globe. With rising demand for utility energy storage, the role of advanced lead batteries continues to be central for the global shift to a low carbon future by supporting the decarbonisation of the energy sector.