China's blood lead exposure lead-acid battery industry weakness

On May 18, the China Battery Industry Association’s Clean Production and Recycling Professional Committee, led by the China Battery Industry Association, was announced in Beijing. At the inaugural meeting, 11 lead-acid battery key enterprises initiated the establishment of a self-regulatory coalition for the clean production industry and issued a self-regulatory treaty for the clean production industry to the whole society.

These high-profile moves actually prove that the problems of the lead-acid battery industry are already a big problem.

Lead-acid battery production in China accounts for 45% of the world

Lead-acid batteries have a history of more than 150 years. In 1859, the French physicist Prandtl made the first practical lead-acid battery. Its working principle is that the lead dioxide, lead, and electrolyte in the battery participate in chemical reactions at the same time. When the battery is used for a period of time to lower the voltage, it can be given a reverse current, so that the battery voltage rises. Because this type of battery can be charged and used repeatedly, it is called a lead-acid battery. At present, lead-acid batteries have been widely used in automobiles, trains, communications, power transmission, signal lights, and aircraft, tanks, ships, radar systems and other fields. As a very mature technology, lead-acid batteries account for 70% of all battery market share.

In recent years, the rapid growth in demand for energy storage for automobiles, electric bicycles, and renewable energy sources has brought the lead-acid battery industry in China to a period of rapid growth. In 2010, the output of lead-acid batteries in China reached 140 million kVA, and the output value jumped to 100 billion yuan. Taking lead-acid batteries for automotive start-up as an example, the demand for China's automotive start-up batteries has increased from 38.65 million kVA in 2006 to 74.95 million kVA in 2010, an average annual increase of 18.01%. It is expected that the demand for China's auto start-up batteries will maintain an average annual growth rate of over 10% in the next five years. At the same time, lead-acid batteries are used as power batteries, which are mainly used in the field of electric bicycles and occupy more than 95% of the market share. At present, the number of electric bicycles in China has exceeded 100 million, and the annual sales volume is more than 10 million. The service life of lead-acid batteries for electric bicycles is 1 to 2 years, and nearly 70 million sets of batteries need to be replaced each year. Changsha Yongkang, Jiangsu Changshu Hezhong Environmental Energy Technology Research Institute, told reporters that according to the latest statistics, the output of lead-acid batteries in China has accounted for about 45% of the world's total output.

The huge market has cultivated a large number of lead-acid battery manufacturers in China. At present, China's lead-acid battery companies have rapidly expanded from more than a dozen in the 1980s to more than 2,000 today. In this group, there are many companies with strong strength – there are currently 10 lead-acid battery manufacturers in the market; but there are also small businesses, and their number accounts for about 90%.

Blood lead poisoning incidents frequently occurred in various places

However, in recent years, the alarming problem of heavy metal pollution has made lead-acid battery companies become street-crossing mice.

It is understood that lead-acid batteries may produce pollution in both production and recycling. In the production process of lead-acid batteries, the plating process and the battery cleaning process will produce lead-containing heavy metal wastewater; in the process of grid casting, alloy preparation, lead parts and lead powder manufacturing, inevitably lead to a variety of lead Smoke and dust. In addition, lead-acid batteries in the downstream industry - lead regeneration process, will also produce a large amount of lead vapor, lead dust, waste water and smelting waste residue.

Pollution in the production and recycling of lead-acid batteries has also caused alarming environmental incidents. In the middle of this month, the Ministry of Environmental Protection had just handled the incident of excessive blood lead in Deqing County, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province. A blood lead overdose event broke out in Zijin County, Heyuan City, Guangdong Province. As of May 19, 136 people had found blood lead. Over the standard, 59 of them met the criteria for lead poisoning. In addition, the blood lead levels of children in Gaohe Town, Huaining City, Anhui Province exceeded the standard, the blood lead levels of children in Heqing County of Yunnan exceeded the standard, the blood lead levels in Chongyang County of Hubei exceeded the standards, and the blood lead levels in Chenzhou, Hunan exceeded the standards. The root cause of these incidents is that some lead-acid battery manufacturing enterprises have caused heavy metal pollution due to illegal discharge of pollutants and have had bad social influence.

The industry generally believes that the main cause of the current lead-acid battery pollution, is a large number of companies in violation of production.

According to Sha Yongkang, a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises are lagging behind in their production processes, and their production facilities are simple. There are no dust-removing equipment. Lead dust and lead smoke are scattered. Lead-containing waste water enters the trench directly. Workers, including factory owners, did not even have general protective measures. Moreover, the current trend of the SME-battery SMEs is to focus on residential areas and shift to urban-rural junctures with higher population density.

For companies that are ignorant of environmental protection, even in the sales process, they produced the “green product” banner for their own lead-acid batteries. "The destruction of a lead-acid battery is only the discharge of the electrolyte, and the harm is not great. The production of lead-acid batteries is an extremely polluting process. During the production process, the lead needs to be ground to a very fine powder state. This process will produce a large amount of lead dust, spread in the air with the wind. Residents, farmland, groundwater near the factory will suffer long-term pollution and harm." Sha Yongkang said.

However, these illegal production enterprises have become the main body of the current lead-acid industry. According to statistics from China Battery Industry Association, there are more than 2,000 lead-acid battery companies below the national scale. According to Sha Yongkang, this data only includes companies that have business licenses and have prepared projects in the environmental protection department. The large number of small-scale enterprises that have a lot of liquidity and hit a spot can not be counted. These enterprises are located in subtle suburbs, and the statistics and supervision of these enterprises are extremely difficult. The polluting enterprises exposed by the media are just the tip of the iceberg.

What is the current low level of the lead-acid battery industry? Sha Yongkang told reporters that for a small business relying on the purchase of parts for assembly, the production of lead-acid batteries mainly requires three kinds of raw materials: plastic shells, lead plates and electrolytes, and the technical threshold for the production of major roads is almost zero. An unlicensed illegal production company, similar to dozens of small workshops, can use manual dismantling and simple melting furnaces to carry out lead-acid battery recycling and production, with a total investment of less than 100,000 yuan.

National lead-acid battery companies will reduce by 2/3

In this situation, the lead-acid battery industry is in urgent need of rectification. The newly established China Battery Industry Association’s Clean Production and Recycling Professional Committee and the industry self-regulatory coalition of 11 key lead-acid battery companies are seen as the beginning of this industry’s self-reorganization.

The first step in rectification is to establish a threshold.

According to U.S. statistics, if there is a full set of design and pipeline-style automatic production equipment, the impact of lead-acid battery production on the environment can be reduced by 60% to 80%. Most of China's medium and small lead-acid battery companies are still in the stage of pure manual to semi-automatic transition. The automated production process can only be realized in enterprises above designated size. Therefore, only large-scale production can meet the requirements of environmental governance, and small businesses that affect the healthy development of the industry must be rejected.

At the end of last year, China Battery Industry Association cooperated with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and other relevant departments to put forward the access conditions for lead-acid battery manufacturing enterprises and waste lead-acid battery recycling enterprises, stipulating that when the scale of new production enterprises is not less than 500,000 kVA, the old factory will be reconstructed. When the scale is not less than 200,000 kVA, the scale of the newly-built recycling enterprises of waste lead-acid batteries shall not be less than 50,000 tons, and the scale of the old factories shall not be less than 20,000 tons. In this regard, Wang Jingzhong, deputy director of the China Battery Industry Association, said that companies that can cross this threshold will not have an annual output value of less than 100 million yuan.

It is understood that the current industry access standards have basically completed the solicitation of opinions. Once implemented, industry players will have a three-year rectification period. Wang Jingzhong stated that at that time, lead-acid battery companies nationwide will reduce by two-thirds, or even by four-fifths, and companies that do not meet certain scale standards will be eliminated.

The second step in rectification is to standardize the production process.

Industry experts pointed out that for a lead-acid battery company to develop healthily, it needs at least 5 million yuan in funds, so that production and environmental protection facilities can keep up. The investment in environmental protection equipment must account for 20% to 30% of the total investment of a regular lead-acid battery manufacturing company, and the annual operating cost of environmental treatment facilities must also be tens of millions of yuan. At present, the total assets of many small and medium-sized lead-acid batteries are only 2 million to 3 million yuan, and they simply cannot meet the hardware requirements for cleaner production. Therefore, Sha Yongkang suggested that lead-acid battery companies must be equipped with professional dust collection and dust removal equipment. This can not only recycle raw materials for reuse but also avoid contamination.

Sha Yongkang also reminded that there are currently two issues that require special attention. One is that in the context of strengthening environmental governance in coastal cities, some companies are shifting lead-acid battery plants from big cities to small towns and villages; the other is that large companies that are retained during the elimination process must be The pollution production line used in the chaotic market competition is completely cut off, and the “pollution addiction” must not be re-stained.

The third step in rectification is to improve laws and regulations.

Over the past decade or so, it is due to the lack of relevant regulations and industry self-discipline that there are many companies without environmental protection facilities and qualifications. On February 18 this year, the State Council approved the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan” for comprehensive prevention and control of heavy metal pollution. Lead pollution prevention and control is one of the key issues. The "Planning" requires that, by 2015, heavy metal pollution emissions in 14 key provinces and autonomous regions such as Inner Mongolia, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Guangdong should be reduced by 15% compared with 2007. At the beginning of March, the Ministry of Environmental Protection had organized special inspections of environmental protection. The 10 inspection groups led by the Environment Supervision Bureau went to various provinces and cities to carry out on-site inspections of lead-acid battery companies. Zhou Shengxian, Minister of Environmental Protection, requested that environmental protection agencies at all levels should conduct investigations on all lead-acid battery manufacturers in their respective jurisdictions. Enterprises that have not fulfilled the environmental assessment procedures, have not completed the “three-simultaneous” acceptance, and have exceeded long-term emission standards must be resolutely shut down according to law. According to the reporter’s understanding, next month, the relevant ministries and commissions will also hold meetings to discuss the next action plan for the rectification of lead-acid battery pollution. The relevant regulations will also be introduced in the future.

Sha Yongkang said that the correct direction of the lead-acid battery industry in the future is not to increase production and increase the proportion of the global market, but to set a timetable for reducing production. Under the premise that it can meet the needs of the domestic market, do not ignore the international orders. Domestic environmental pollution. The key to rectifying lead-acid battery pollution is how to manage it effectively. If multiple departments can jointly supervise the implementation of environmental protection by enterprises, supervise the high standards of enterprises, and strictly require clean production and management, the pollution can be truly controlled. It is understood that, under the strict management of many years, the lead pollution generated by the lead-acid battery industry in the United States has been far less than the aviation, steel-making, boiler heating, power generation and other industries. The US Environmental Protection Agency is planning to remove lead-acid battery production from the lead pollution industry list. The Obama administration’s new energy development plan with a total investment of 2.4 billion U.S. dollars will allocate 66.8 million U.S. dollars to the lead-acid battery industry. It can be seen that the lead-acid battery industry, through its own efforts, social supervision, and policy guidance, is not out of reach.