University of Warwick: Lead-acid battery lifespan to be increased for use in energy storage systems

· Lead-acid batteries are an established alternative to Li-ion batteries as they are simpler safer to use and are recyclable

· How to increase the lifespan and health of batteries will be researched by WMG, University of Warwick, in collaboration with Loughborough University. This research will make lead acid batteries stronger contender for both commercial and domestic energy storage systems
· Researchers will be using AI to optimise the batteries for energy storage solutions rather than focusing on the battery chemistry

Energy storage systems (ESS) are used in decentralised and complex electricity networks; lead-acid batteries could be a clean and green option for ESS. Researchers from WMG University of Warwick and Loughborough University will investigate how to optimise the management of lead-acid batteries in ESS use.

Europe’s energy storage transition over the last few years has witnessed tremendous growth, increasing from 0.55 GWh 2016 to 5.26 GWh by the end of 2020, with front-of-the-meter deployments such as those by utilities leading the way, representing more than 50% of installed capacity.Caption: Isolated multichannel battery and cell voltage measuring circuit for use in series strings Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

These energy storage systems require high-performing, reliable and affordable batteries to ensure the smooth generation and storage of energy for regional and national electrical grids.

The health and lifespan of lead-acid batteries will be optimised in the project HALO-SMART-ESS-LAB (Health and Lifespan Optimization with Smart Manager Algorithms and Recuperative Testing of Energy Storage Systems of Lead-Acid Batteries).

The aim of the project, which is funded by the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI), is to achieve significant improvements in cycle life and operational health of lead-acid batteries in energy storage systems (ESS), thereby opening new doors in integrating renewable energy sources into low carbon energy systems.

Extending the lifespan of the batteries will reduce the cost of the overall system, making lead batteries more attractive for domestic, commercial and industrial applications. As well as being cost effective, lead batteries are much safer than Li-ion batteries in terms of health and safety and fire hazards risks, and are widely and fully recyclable.

Researchers from WMG at the University of Warwick will be working with Loughborough University, to focus on application and system operation levels, rather than on internal battery chemistry or technology levels. Existing state-of-the-art battery types such as VRLA AGM batteries will be tested under different cycling profiles to explore in-depth:

· The use of appropriately spaced recuperative charging (overcharging)

· Deeper understanding of the ripple current effect on the ESS

· The use of additional on-line battery voltage monitoring or full BMS

· Applying deep learning algorithms and AI to achieve optimised control strategies decreasing wear-out and failure of battery modules.



Principal Investigator, Professor Richard McMahon from WMG, University of Warwick comments: “Energy Storage Systems are a key solution to more decentralised and complex electricity networks, as they can support their stability and maximise the utilisation of renewable generation capacity. We are therefore looking at how we can maximise the cycle life of lead-acid batteries to get the most out of them and make them cheaper and greener for all kinds of renewable energy uses.”

Professor Dani Strickland from Loughborough University adds:

“The availability of low-cost powerful microprocessors is fuelling an explosion in our capability to monitor, understand and impact battery degradation in real world situations at low cost. This project is exciting because it will use expertise in the partner organisations to transition lead acid batteries to the world of big data and smart energy storage.”

CBI’s Technical Manager, Dr Matt Raiford, said: “This kind of collaborative research with universities is exactly what the lead battery industry needs. Working with leading institutions to deliver new insights and modelling techniques for lead battery energy storage is critical for the wider industry to continue their foray into the utility grid storage market.”

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