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Faculty of Science


Prof Ernst Ferg was an invited speaker at the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) ILAB 2015 Europe workshop that was held in Wurzburg Germany at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Research (ISC) from the 15th to 17th of April 2015. The title of the workshop was “Innovation in Lead-Acid Batteries, Europe”, and it was attended by over 60 attendees from various industries and institutes from Europe and the USA. The various speakers (about 20) ranged from battery researchers, manufacturers and automotive producers. The focus of the workshop was to consider the future of the Pb-acid battery as a suitable energy storage battery in the midst of the various competing technologies such as Li-ion and Al-ion rechargeable batteries.

Prof Ferg presented work that was part of a master’s study in chemistry that was partly supported by ALABC to study the fundamental chemical processes involved in Pb-acid batteries using various analytical techniques. The work included the use of the new Bruker Dimension FastScan Scanning Probe Microscope (acquired by NMMU professor, Prof JR Botha, in 2013 to support his research chair), and the facilities at the Centre for HRTEM at NMMU (specifically the focused-ion beam scanning electron microscope (FIBSEM) and the High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscope (HRTEM)). The talk was well received and new collaborative work on various materials was established with fellow researchers. The images on the left are of an EC-SPM scan of the surface of a negative plate from a battery showing the formation of PBSO4, and of a FIBSEM specimen being removed from a negative plate in preparation for the HRTEM.