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When the French scientist, Gaston Plante, invented the lead-acid battery in 1859, he could not have envisioned the critical role his creation would play today in transportation, communication, electric utilities and as emergency backup systems. Without them, 21st century life would not be possible.

The development of more and more battery-powered devices and applications has fueled demand for new and different battery chemistries. Researchers have been looking for a chemistry that is at once powerful, long-lived, safe, inexpensive, lightweight and recyclable.Following is a brief summary of lead-acid and alternate battery chemistries and their advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages: This chemistry has been proven over more than 140 years. Batteries of all shapes and sizes, available in sealed and maintenance-free products, are mass-produced today. In their price range, lead-acid batteries provide the best value for power and energy per kilowatt-hour, have the longest life cycle and a large environmental advantage in that they are recycled at an extraordinarily high rate. (Ninety-seven percent of the lead is recycled and reused in new batteries.). No other chemistry can touch the infrastructure that exists for collecting, transporting and recycling lead-acid batteries.

Disadvantages: Lead is heavier compared to some alternative elements used in other technologies; however, certain efficiencies in current conductors and other advances continue to improve on the power density of a lead-acid battery's design.
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