Think the future for electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars revolves around lithium-ion batteries? It appears that a new alternative may be emerging.
The Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium has demonstrated the durability of lead-carbon batteries in hybrid electric vehicles. It retrofitted a Honda Civic Hybrid (pictured) with lead-carbon UltraBattery modules and recorded 100,000 miles of courier duties across Phoenix, Arizona.
The demonstrator was first put into action during November 2011, and continues to be on fleet duty. It has achieved comparable fuel economy performance to the vehicle with nickel-metal hydride batteries but has cost significantly less.
Fleeting testing was the last stage of the UltraBattery Retrofit Project DP1.8 and Carbon Enriched Project C3 meant to examine the prospects and sustainability of advanced lead battery technology. The lead-acid batteries contain high levels of carbon in the negative electrode.
In a report from the US Department of Energy at the end of August 2012, the vehicle totalled more than 60,000miles with a battery capacity of 7.54Ah. It delivered an average of 44mpg, which placed it ahead of the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid original model which had a fuel economy rating of 42mpg.
The UltraBattery lead-carbon technology was developed by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation as well as Japan's Furukawa Battery.
Similarly, Furukawa's UltraBattery modules were tested in 2010 inside a Honda Insight on a track in Millbrook, UK. They also reached the 100,000mile marker but automakers wanted to see how the batteries performed in real-world conditions which is what led to this fleet testing.