National Battery Day on February 18 gives us the opportunity to consider how essential batteries are in our everyday lives, but did you know that southeast Missouri’s minerals play a vital role in producing these important energy storage devices? Missouri’s geology is home to many naturally occurring minerals, including the lead and zinc ore that can be used to manufacture batteries that power our world – from the lead-based batteries that start 1 billion vehicles worldwide to the zinc-carbon batteries that run a flashlight or remote control.
“Many companies rely on Missouri lead and zinc mined by The Doe Run Company (Doe Run),” said Lou Magdits, director of raw materials. “Some of the company’s largest customers are U.S. companies that produce batteries for all applications. What’s more, millions of lead batteries return to Missouri to be recycled at Doe Run’s Resource Recycling facility, one of the largest single-site lead recycling facilities in the world.”
Originally invented in 1859, lead batteries today power vehicles, help to store renewable wind and solar energy, and provide backup power for critical operations, such as air traffic control towers, hospitals and financial centers. Recent advances promise to bring additional advantages to car owners. The Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium and partners have worked to produce a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) system with a 48-volt advanced lead carbon battery to meet air quality and ultra-low emission requirements for the next generation of road vehicles. Testing confirms that the system can deliver a 10-12 percent reduction in fuel consumption.
Zinc-based batteries have been used for many decades in applications ranging from toys, electronics and hearing aids to the rechargeable batteries in power tools, and even powering aircraft and space applications.