Lead-acid batteries take a beating-and manufacturers love it

Jul 29, 2005 | 05:45 AM | Rory Carroll

Summertime, and the living is easy. Unless, of course, you're a lead-acid battery under the hood of a Ford Mustang driven by a lead-footed Nascar wannabe. In that case, summer isn't easy at all.

With August still ahead, summer has already proven to be a scorcher. Twenty-one people have died from the heat in Phoenix and three in Missouri, and high temperatures in Chicago have prompted officials to implement an emergency response plan to prevent a repeat of the grizzly scene a decade ago when hundreds died.

But the extreme heat-a problem for so many-is a boon to lead smelters and battery makers.

The heat is responsible for a steadily rising number of dead batteries being shipped to lead smelters, and the increased flow not only translates into strong demand for replacement batteries but also helps offset the still high price of primary lead. (Lead has been trading at around the $840-a-tonne level on the London Metal Exchange, pushed down by higher inventories in Baltimore warehouses but still within spitting distance of all-time highs.)....

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