Our colleagues Matt Raiford, CBI's Senior Technical Manager, and Alyssa McQuilling, CBI's Research and Innovation Manager, were featured in the latest Beyond Lithium podcast episode hosted by Nate Kirchhofer from BioZen Batteries. The discussion revolved around the work of CBI, research and innovations driving the industry, exciting new projects, unique features of advanced lead batteries and the future of energy storage.
CBI's projects and mission
Matt kicks off the conversation by outlining CBI's mission as a pre-competitive global research organisation with over 130 members worldwide. According to Matt, the priority of pre-competitive research lies in CBI's focus on applications and innovations benefiting the entire lead battery industry. "It's like taking a step back and looking at first principles," Nate summarises, as both guests noted.
The conversation reveals CBI's projects, showcasing an advanced lead battery technology for different applications. Matt and Alyssa shed light on CBI's involvement in global government funding opportunities, with recent projects spanning Europe and the UK. Alyssa introduces the current LoCEL-H2 project, featuring the unique battery-electrolyser. The technology stores energy to produce electricity on demand and utilises initially unwanted side reactions to produce hydrogen for cooking purposes. Another noteworthy project, Aftrak, showcases a solar advanced lead battery-powered tractor for deep-farming piloted in Africa. "These projects highlight something really important about batteries in general, that they can enable a whole new way of living," noted Matt.
A closer look at lead batteries
The podcast takes a turn as the team delves into the chemistry of lead batteries. "Lead batteries have been around for a hundred years, and they've been doing a lot of work," Nate acknowledges, addressing the never-ending question of getting people excited about lead. Dispelling misconceptions around lead batteries, Matt and Alyssa passionately discuss their unique benefits, including sustainability, an increasingly relevant factor in today's society. "Lead is the most recyclable product in the world," Matt emphasises, "This results in a recycling rate of over 99% in the US and Europe."
Energy storage takes centre stage in the conversation, as it has been emerging prominently in political dialogues worldwide. According to Matt, the performance rate of lead batteries is the main driver for energy storage. First invented in a French man's backyard, lead batteries evolved drastically into well-adapted products. As a scientist, Matt wondered how this technology didn't advance when he came across it years ago. The explanation is simple: there was no market driver. Nowadays, there is one. "That's what we're doing at the CBI. A lot of our research is inspired by the needs of the market," Matt explains.
The future of energy storage
"We need a lot of energy storage integrated into the grid as we decarbonise and electrify more," Alyssa states, touching on the need for diverse technologies to meet the escalating need for clean energy. This offers countless opportunities across sectors. The demand for energy storage and battery innovations go hand in hand. Improvements in cycle life and battery materials are a few examples of research in national labs, where new technologies and techniques are involved to better understand batteries at a fundamental level.
The podcast concludes with a forward-looking perspective on the future of energy storage. The energy storage sector's scale and pace of development promise a huge demand for batteries. "We see a steady growth for lead. For energy storage, the sky's a limit. We're talking about terawatt-hours batteries needed by 2030," Matt says, highlighting the increasing need for diverse technologies to coexist harmoniously. "We just have to create a cheap battery that lasts a long time," he concludes with a smile.
A special thanks to our colleagues, Matt Raiford and Alyssa McQuilling, for this insightful conversation, showcasing the work at CBI and providing valuable insights into the role of lead batteries in shaping a sustainable and energy-efficient future. Listen to the full podcast on the Beyond Lithium website.