Research & Partnerships

The U.S. is racing to domestically meet its sustainability energy storage needs. Research is pivotal to that mission, which includes unlocking the full potential of lead batteries. The lead battery industry recognizes the importance of federal research and development funding, and partnerships with research institutions, such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Laboratory system. The federal government serves as a key facilitator of such research.

Advocates for Increased, Equitable Funding

BCI supports robust funding that enables research and development to help the lead battery industry grow, innovate, and expand its domestic manufacturing and recycling footprint. BCI advocates for:

  • More Battery R&D Funding: Increased DOE funding related to energy storage and battery technology will catalyze important breakthroughs to develop innovative, cutting-edge solutions for the industry.
  • Ensured Access for Lead Battery R&D: BCI advocates for a diversified approach to R&D funding that encompasses multiple battery technologies. It is imperative that lead batteries are included in these opportunities, on par with other battery chemistries. This ensures a level playing field for the lead battery industry to compete effectively.
The circular economy of lead batteries

DOE Ups Investment in Lead Battery Technology

The promise of lead batteries has already captured the attention of the DOE.

Through its Storage Innovations 2030 initiative, DOE issued comprehensive assessment reports on lead batteries and nine other battery chemistries for their promise to achieve the Long Duration Storage Shot™. The program seeks 90% cost reductions for grid-scale energy storage technologies that can provide 10 hours or longer duration of energy storage by 2030.

Lead Batteries Impress DOE: According to the DOE, lead batteries were selected for their “proven use cases over the last several decades” and notes their top benefits as:

  • Low-cost
  • Fundamentally safe
  • 99% recyclable

Highlights of DOE Lead Battery Assessment

The DOE’s technology strategy assessment on lead batteries recognized and recommended exciting opportunities to:

  • Improve and deploy lead battery technology at scale
  • Capitalize on lead battery’s promise for viability by 2030
  • Establish pre-competitive research pathways and stakeholder partners to achieve goals

Specifically, the assessment made these favorable conclusions about lead batteries:

  • Using DOE’s ROVI (Rapid Operational Validation Initiative) metrics, lead battery technology has a better chance of reaching the 2030-35 goals than lithium-ion.
  • Lead batteries require modest investment to maximize their potential.
  • There are basic research-focused innovations that appear to hold great promise for reducing cost and improving performance.

Lead Batteries Poised to Meet Storage Goals

The holy grail of energy storage is producing longer-lasting, economically priced technologies. Even better if they’re sustainable and domestically sourced. Lead batteries are impressing DOE and researchers.

A closer look at DOE’s metrics shows why lead batteries are poised to achieve DOE’s goal of a 90% drop in per-kilowatt hour cost ($0.05/kWh) for grid-scale energy storage by 2030–35:

Lead Batteries Investment Costs are Lower

  • Lead battery research requires a considerably smaller budget to improve lifecycle and energy density.
  • Compared to lithium-ion, lead batteries could approach the target with one-fifth of the investment cost over 5–9 years.
  • DOE’s Office of Electricity estimates $2M be spent in the next 5–10 years on lead batteries.
Argonne National Laboratory Synchrotron
Argonne National Laboratory Synchrotron

Exciting Research is Already Underway

The past two decades have seen significant progress toward unlocking the full potential of lead batteries. Today, there are more than 50 research projects underway in the U.S. aimed at making it the global leader in energy storage.

Here are notable collaborations between private sector companies, universities and the U.S. government focused on producing next-gen advanced lead batteries:

  • U.S. Department of Energy: In 2023, DOE selected lead batteries as one of 10 battery chemistries to thoroughly assess for DOE’s Long Duration Storage Shot initiative. Performance metrics include increasing the lead battery lifecycle by one-third.
  • U.S. National Labs: Several high-tech lead battery research projects are happening with U.S. National Labs. One collaboration includes U.S. lead battery companies and The University of Toledo to improve lead battery cycling efficiency.
Dr. Christian Rosenkranz

The other critical on-board component for electric vehicles…are 12V lead auxiliary batteries.

Dr. Christian Rosenkranz, Chairman, Consortium for Battery Innovation