Lead Acid Battery

Lead Acid Battery – The Most Widely Used Rechargeable Battery in the World


The rechargeable battery was invented in 1859 by French physicist Gaston Plante. He constructed the first primitive rechargeable battery by sandwiching sheets of lead and cardboard soaked in diluted sulfuric acid between electrodes. This initial design laid the foundation for modern rechargeable battery. In the early 20th century, improvements were made to electrode designs which boosted performance and service life. Automobile manufacturers then started widely adopting rechargeable battery to power the ignition system of vehicles.

Composition and Working Principle

A typical lead acid battery contains two lead electrodes – a negative electrode made of spongy lead and a positive electrode made of lead oxide (PbO2). These electrodes are immersed in an electrolyte solution of diluted sulfuric acid (H2SO4). During discharge, lead sulfate (PbSO4) forms on both the electrodes as lead atoms lose electrons. The electrolyte allows ion transfer between electrodes. When charging, an external power source drives the reverse reactions – lead sulfate reforms back into lead and lead oxide. This exchange of electrons between electrodes through an external circuit powers loads or gets stored for later use.

Applications and Uses

Due to its relatively low cost, rugged design and established manufacturing process, Lead Acid Battery dominate the rechargeable battery market. They provide the main bulk energy storage in automotive and motorcycle applications, both for starting, lighting and ignition as well as auxiliary functions. Large batteries also power electric forklifts, golf carts and electric wheelchairs. Rechargeable battery are commonly used as backup power during blackouts for telecom towers, hospitals and data centers. Off-grid homes use batteries for solar energy storage. Other popular applications include boating, recreational vehicles, UPS systems, emergency lighting and electric tools.


– Low manufacturing cost due to simple design and abundant raw material availability

– Established recycling infrastructure reduces environmental impact

– High surge current capability for starting gasoline engines

– Years of reliable operation with proper maintenance

– Large power and energy density for their size

– Operates well in any position or climate


– Heavy weight compared to similar power lithium-ion batteries

– Self-discharge rate of around 5% per month when not used

– Relatively shorter cycle life (300-500 deep cycles) than newer technologies

– Less suited for portable devices due to weight

– Requires regular water topping to replace consumed water

– Explosive hydrogen gas evolves during overcharging

Design Improvements

Over the decades, battery manufacturers have continuously refined Lead Acid Battery design and materials to boost performance and lifetime. Advancements include adding carbon/fiberglass mats and alloying lead with calcium and antimony in electrodes. Absorbed glass mat (AGM) and gel batteries immobilize the electrolyte in fiberglass mat or silica gel to prevent spillage during accidents. Recombination valves in sealed batteries vent hydrogen safely during charging and increase service life. Low antimony or antimony-free grids reduce maintenance and extend cycle count. Microfiber and carbon additives are also used to enhance mechanical integrity of plates. Such innovations have overcome many limitations while retaining core advantages.

Manufacturing Process

The production of rechargeable battery begins with extraction of lead from lead ore in mines. It is then refined and alloyed with other metals before being formed into electrode grids. Positive plates are made by pasting lead oxide active material onto the grids while assembling the negative plates. The precision formed plates are stacked in plastic or polypropylene containers. Diluted sulfuric acid electrolyte is then added before sealing. Batteries then move through formation charging to allow the active material to cure. Once tested, they are shipped for various applications after being appropriately packaged. Modern fully automated lines can manufacture millions annually.

Battery Management Systems

Advanced rechargeable battery now have integrated battery management systems (BMS) much like lithium-ion packs. At the battery-level, microcontrollers monitor voltage, current and temperature parameters during operation. Software-controlled charging optimizes charge acceptance based on active material state-of-charge. Temperature compensation extends operating range in hot or cold conditions. Cell balancing improves capacity utilization of individual cells. Fleet management BMS remotely monitors battery health and locates vehicles for maintenance. Such intelligent controls maximize usable capacity and service lifetime of large stationary batteries.

Future Outlook

With continuous energy density gains, the lead acid battery is projected to remain the workhorse technology powering starter-lighting-ignition applications for decades. The mature infrastructure ensures consistent supply even during economic volatility. However, in traction and portable device segments, lead–acid faces increasing competition from higher specific energy lithium-ion batteries. Emerging nano-carbon enhanced rechargeable battery promise longer cycle life and faster charging. Grid-scale energy storage projects also evaluate lead acid due to the recycling edge over lithium. Overall, refinements will keep improving battery economics and sustainability credentials of this tried-and-tested electrochemistry well into the future.

1.  Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it