Batteries Power Storage Units (PSU) Chapter 3 Lead Acid Battery: The Construction

Chapter 3 Lead Acid Battery: The Construction

Batteries Power Storage Units (PSU)

Chapter 3

NOTE: When dismantling any battery, there is a level of toxicity and exposure to acid. NEVER open up a battery and remove the electrolyte. There are many types of flooded batteries that use toxic metals. SurvivorDuty will only demonstrate the less harmful simple flooded lead acid and nickel iron batteries. This website is dedicated to inform the reader concerning reconditioning in a time of crises but the reader should NEVER attempt what is demonstrated here for batteries are cheap and available to replace as new then to dismantle an aged battery that will offer no benefit to the user.

Review post “BATTERIES POWER STORAGE UNITS (PSU) CHAPTER 1 THE EDISON” before reading this post. As I stated, most automotive and deep cycle lead acid batteries are designed to fail in 2 to 4 years but in a supply chain disruption, this battery will be the most abundant. The Survival Duty recommended Edison battery are expensive, (the use of nickel), aged and hard to find. What we are left in large supply are the low end auto lead battery that we will have to re-build if one was needed to last a decade or more. In the post “POWER STORAGE UNITS (PSU’S) LEAD ACID BATTERY RESTORATION CASE 1 & 2” demonstrates all the misconceptions about the methods to re-condition off the shelf PbAc’s. Sulfation is NOT the only culprit reducing the capacity of most batteries today; the failure is in the batteries construction and design.

PbAc’s made back in the 1930’s and 1940’s used a heavy duty lead grid antimony to support the active pastes holding up to vibration loads, acidic electrolyte and excessive heat. See Figure (1).

Figure 1

The battery cell separators were made of either grooved thin hardwood strips or heavy duty gridded Styrene or Rubber-bituminous. The case was lined with think Rubber-bituminous composition (Polycarbonate), vulcanized rubber, to seal in the cells and electrolyte, that sat inside a heavy duty wood case. See Figure (2).

Figure 2

Industrial utility lead acid batteries of today have a heavy duty lead antimony plate design yet they over priced and limited in demand.

Batteries Of  Today 

PbAc’s today do not use a “plate grid” to hold its active material, manufactures use a form of chicken wire, a wire mesh, to hold the paste in place. See Figure (3). For the negative “plate,” the wire is a lead mesh, pressed with pastes then packaged in to solvable thin Polycarbonate bag . See Figure (4).

Figure 3

Figure 4

For the positive plate, for a 5 year old deep cycle lead acid battery, the wire mesh was most likely made of steel, corrosive in sulfuric acid, and simply dissolved away. All that is left is the Lead dioxide pastes in the original grid pattern that was once held by the wire mesh now simply falls to the bottom of the battery case rendering the battery useless. The positive paste had no bag, the wire mesh simply stacked next to the negative mesh bag.  See Figure (5).

Figure 5

I found no signs of lead sulfate crystal contamination on this aged battery simply because there were no solid surfaces to hold them. Any attempt at “rejuvenating” this battery would have been a waste of time and money. What I did find interesting in this design, is that when this battery is re-cycled, the recycler simply pulls out the bags of negative pastes, (plates), from the battery case sits them into a container and dumps out the Lead dioxide paste at the bottom of  the battery case into another container. The two paste compositions are simply re-processed and placed back into a new battery case and re-sold. But the ease of access to the active material of these cheap batteries will help the survivalist to re-create a durable duty battery that I will cover in later posts.

 How Do We Make a Lead Acid Battery Last a Lifetime?

Lead and sulfuric acid are not biodegradable. The chemical reaction to release electricity is reversible, similar to the nickel iron battery. Theoretically the elements of these battery would last well over 100 years. The limiting factor for both batteries is the case that holds the active materials. Since nickel iron react by the transfer of oxygen atoms, there is little caustic breakdown in the metals used for NiFe’s. So a strong metal, such as steel, can be used if electroplated with nickel yet a well made rubber must survive the caustic KOH electrolyte. The Edison battery survives the 100 years cycle due to its well made construction. For lead acid batteries, lead is a soft metal prone to bend and weaken even if mixed with an alloy. The acidic environment of sulfuric acid electrolyte plays havoc on any container that will house the cells. The reversing reaction of Lead dioxide is not a clean transfer of states. As this battery cycles through charge and discharge states, sulfate crystals is a byproduct of  the reaction. Sulfate crystals can convert back to sulfuric acid through a special electrolysis technique. In a nut shell, PbAc’s need to be exceptionally maintained, reconditioned, and the plates re-formed to last the 100+ year duty life. The trick is to build a battery case and plate molds that can be re-cycled by the survivalist outside the supply chain. I will cover techniques in future posts to keep a PbAc running for years yet this battery will not have the power density of  today’s PbAc’s.

NOTE:

Lead poising in our current political climate that focuses on environment impacts should encourage well build, long lasting lead acid batteries. The amount of waste generated by cheaply made disposable throwaway batteries create toxic landfills and junk yards. A long lasting, lifetime battery, like the manufacturing ethics of the original Edison and Exide batteries back in the 1920’s, should return to our markets.  What we are producing today not only ends up in landfills and recycling centers in great quantities every day but the energy it take to re-produce a disposable battery has it’s toxic consequences.

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