Lead-acid battery vehicles green despite pollution scandals

Updated: 2011-11-10 20:16

By Zheng Xin (chinadaily.com.cn)

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Beijing - Despite a recent spate of child lead poisoning scandals, experts say China should continue to invest in vehicles with lead-acid batteries to keep the market for the automobiles sustainable.

Yang Yusheng with the Chinese Academy of Engineering said pollution from manufacturing lead-acid batteries is due to the illegal operation of some companies, as the battery itself is environmentally friendly.

"Once they pass environmental impact assessments, lead-acid batteries have an excellent and environmentally friendly performance in electron mobiles," said Yang.

According to Cao Guoqing, engineer from the Institute of Chemical Power Sources, the strong demand for the batteries entices small workshops with poor research and no control of heavy metal pollution to enter the market.

After the blanket inspection of all lead-acid battery manufacturers earlier this year, only slightly more than 10 percent of the 2,000 manufacturers survived, said Cao.

About 97 percent of all battery lead is recycled, which makes the lead-acid batteries popular from an environmental protection and cost perspective, according to Cao.

"They are crucial to the development of green vehicles since they're recycled," Cao said. "The lead-acid batteries are safe, cheap and environmentally friendly, a perfect option for the current electronic automobile market."

In response to criticism that lead-acid battery vehicles are like "toys", Yang said the small, cheap and short-distance electronic automobiles can not only meet the needs in rural areas, but are also consistent with developing green vehicles.

"Each vehicle is around 30,000 yuan ($4,730), pretty affordable for the people in rural areas as well," said Yang. "Besides, one million such cars can save 1.5 million tons of gasoline each year as well, so the government should invest heavily."