Lead is one of the world’s most recycled metals, and many companies work to manufacture and recycle lead-acid batteries. Here’s a look at four of them.
While lithium-ion batteries are currently a hot topic, lead-acid batteries are still in high demand. In fact, according to one report, the global lead-acid battery market is expected to reach US$63.44 billion by 2028.
That’s a huge increase from the market’s 2015 valuation of US$46.6 billion, and Vantage Market Research, the firm that authored the report, says growth is being driven by increasing demand from the automotive and telecom sectors, as well as renewable energy and energy storage applications.
Cars are one of the main use cases for the lead-acid battery, and as demand for vehicles goes up, lead-acid battery use will rise in tandem. Higher e-bike sales across the globe will also contribute.
As lead-acid battery use rises, recycled lead is expected to account for a larger portion of global lead supply. Lead is one of the world’s most recycled metals, and the International Lead and Zinc Study Group states that production of refined lead metal from recycled raw material accounted for 64.7 percent of global output in 2021.
Lead is recycled at such a high rate in large part because it’s easy and cost-effective to recycle lead-acid batteries. Indeed, Battery University notes that 97 percent of all lead-acid batteries in the US are recycled.
The recycling process involves breaking exhausted batteries into pieces and immersing them in water; after that, the lead in the batteries sinks to the bottom and the plastic rises to the top. The lead is then melted and poured into ingot molds. Impurities are removed, and the lead is sent to manufacturing plants for use in new batteries. Battery acid can also be converted into water and treated, or can be turned into sodium sulfate, which is used in laundry detergent, and in glass and textile manufacturing.
One way for investors to tap into rising demand is to invest in companies that both make and recycle lead-acid batteries. Here’s a look at four major publicly traded players in the market listed alphabetically.
1. EnerSys (NYSE:ENS)
Market cap: US$3.05 billion
EnerSys is a leading maker of industrial batteries for applications including motive power (batteries for lift trucks and material-handling equipment) and reserve power (for electricity-generation facilities and data centers), as well as for aerospace and defense uses. It has manufacturing and assembly facilities in several global locations.
In its latest results release, EnerSys reported net earnings of US$36.3 million and net sales of US$385.2 million for its third fiscal quarter of 2022. Net sales were up 14.2 percent from the previous year.
2. Exide Industries (NSE:EXIDEIND)
Market cap: 128.43 billion Indian rupees
Exide Industries supplies the widest range of lead-acid storage batteries in the world for a broad range of applications, including automotive, factories, telecom, mining, solar technology and submarines.
The company exports its products to 60 countries spanning six continents. Exide’s global operations include major lead-acid battery recycling facilities.
Exide recently began to diversify its battery offerings to include lithium-ion batteries. In March 2022, the company signed a long-term partnership with China-based SVOLT Energy Technology for lithium-ion cell manufacturing.
3. Panasonic (TSE:6752)
Market cap: 2.69 trillion Japanese yen
One of Interbrand's Top 100 Best Global Brands of 2021, Japan’s Panasonic is a world leader in technology. The company’s consumer electronics products are known the world over. However, the multinational conglomerate is also a major player in the global battery market, including the production of lead-acid batteries.
As a part of its commitment to developing advanced solar and energy storage technologies, Panasonic launched a next-generation solar energy battery storage system called the EverVolt 2.0 in November 2021.
4. Teledyne Technologies (NYSE:TDY)
Market cap: US$20.15 billion
Founded in 1960, American industrial conglomerate Teledyne Technologies is focused on digital imaging, batteries and electronic components, and provides semiconductors to industries such as telecom, medical imaging, oceanographic research, aerospace and defense.
The company produces lead-acid batteries for several markets, including high-performance, valve-regulated lead-acid batteries, plus battery systems for general aviation and defense applications.
This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2013.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.