The Origin and Lifecycle of Lead Acid Batteries
It may be a surprising fact, but lead acid batteries are still a thing, and a thing that’s quite popular, although Forbes believes the lead acid battery is on its way out due to better options being made available. Until that day, however, the lead acid battery has a place in the world of electronics – as it has for the past 160 years. Lead acid batteries can be found just about anywhere, most commonly they are used as car batteries although they can be used in other devices where a rechargeable battery is needed, which makes sense, since lead acid batteries were the first type of battery that could be recharged by sending a reverse current through the battery. They’re quite useful because they’re relatively low cost to produce and create a decent amount of power with little effort.
The first lead acid battery was invented by French physicist Gaston Planté who had also made a unique fossil discovery in 1855. His first battery was basically a couple sheets of lead separated by rubber and immersed in sulfuric acid. How he came up with that is probably a really interesting story. Subsequent models used lead paste as opposed to the sheets or plates used by Planté. Although Planté’s battery was the first rechargeable battery, batteries were being experimented with as far back as when Benjamin Franklin was experimenting with capacitors and referred to them as a battery. The chemistry of lead acid batteries has changed over the years and has obviously improved, the biggest changes being to the casing to make it stronger as well as chemically to improve the charging and discharging, thus improving battery life.
Lead acid batteries today are found in many different applications, most commonly in places like alarm systems, solar energy systems, UPS’s (Uninterruptible Power Supply), car batteries and many more. Here at EIO we carry primarily Tysonic batteries, which are sealed lead acid batteries. Tysonic started in Phoenix, AZ in 1991 and has grown since then making batteries both in the USA and abroad in facilities that are ISO-9001 and UL recognized to ensure total quality. Tysonic provides “private label” batteries to big names like Sanyo and Panasonic, which should give you some indication of the quality of their products.
Once you get your new lead acid batteries to replace your old one, you absolutely cannot throw them in the trash, because, lead and acid are generally bad for the environment. Instead, find a place near you that takes them, many places like Home Depot, Lowe’s or Best Buy take many types of batteries making it easy and convenient to dispose of them properly. In other words, it’s so easy you don’t have any excuse to throw batteries in the garbage. The recycling process is actually very simple too, basically the batteries are crushed, the plastic pieces are cleaned and sent to a plastic recycler, then melted down into pellets. The lead components are melted down, impurities are removed and the lead ingots that are made are then used to make new lead batteries. The sulfuric acid is either neutralized by turning it into water (which is purified) and treated in a waste water treatment facility. If it’s not converted into water, the acid is turned into sodium sulfate and used as laundry detergent. Chemistry is fun, eh?
Lead acid batteries have been around for more than a century and have been steadily improved since then. They are a rather efficient source of power compared to the cost in making them and they are rechargeable making them extremely useful. Even better, when they die or burn out, lead acid batteries can be recycled and made into new batteries without much effort. Until better sources of power become available, lead acid batteries will continue to be used by people all over the world.