It is in just about every car and truck, regardless of whether the vehicle has an internal-combustion engine, uses hybrid technology or is pure electric.
Its proven reliability makes it the metal of choice for energy back-up services in hospitals, telephone exchanges, emergency services and public buildings.
It is one of the most recycled materials in the modern world, more so than glass or paper, with the United States and Europe boasting near 100% recycling rates.
Yet it is largely absent from any discussion of battery materials in the coming electric vehicle and energy storage revolutions.
Welcome to lead.
The lead-acid battery
The lead-acid battery was invented in 1859 by a French physicist, Gaston Plante. While plenty of other scientists were experimenting with electrical storage in the middle of the 19th century, Plante’s breakthrough was to create a battery that could be recharged.
The lead-acid battery was quickly adopted by the newly emerging automotive sector, which at the time was experimenting with both internal-combustion and electric propulsion systems.
Although the industry plumped for internal combustion, lead-acid batteries became the power source of choice for starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) functions.
And they still are.
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