Minerals & Metals

The Future of Lead

Power, Protection and Convenience

For more than 5,000 years, people have used lead to make their lives easier. Today, lead is used in batteries that store energy for transportation, solar and wind power components. Lead is also used in cable coverings, roof flashings and radiation shielding for airport security, nuclear energy storage and medical applications.

Thanks to lead’s many useful properties, including its high recycling rate, the metal will play a growing role in solving the world’s future energy challenges. Doe Run anticipates increased demand for lead-based batteries to power vehicles, renewable energy sources and telecommunications.

Powering Vehicles Through Lead-Acid Batteries

  • Lead-based batteries help answer the demand for environmentally friendly transportation and power. Approximately 90 percent of the lead Doe Run produces ends up in lead-acid batteries, and because these batteries are one of the most recycled products in America, lead is an ideal sustainable energy source.
  • Lead-acid batteries also dominate the market for smaller, fully electric vehicles and micro-hybrids. This demand will only increase. In fact, Lux Research reports that micro-hybrids will grow nearly eight-fold to 39 million vehicles by 2017, creating a $6.9 billion market for energy storage devices, like lead-acid batteries.
  • Auto manufacturers utilize nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for some hybrid vehicles, but these options are much more costly than lead-acid batteries and do not presently have the recycling rates of lead-acid batteries. The Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC), of which Doe Run is a founding member, is testing advanced lead-acid and lead-carbon battery-powered systems to meet the needs of auto manufacturers at a lower cost than NiMH and Li-ion batteries.

Energy Storage

  • Governments and utility companies continue to invest in solar and wind power. This energy can be stored in lead-acid batteries and released into the power grid to balance energy load leveling. These renewable power sources may help reduce the need for coal-fired energy and diversify the energy mix. Lead-based batteries also provide backup power for a variety of mission critical systems.

Other Uses for Lead

  • Because of its unique properties, lead will continue to be used to weatherproof roofs, soundproof rooms and buildings, shield from X-ray radiation, and transport and store nuclear power.