Lead-Acid Battery Regeneration
What is it and why is it good?
Lead-Acid batteries are designed for a certain lifetime, specified by years of use, or by number of charge/discharge cycles - depending on their type and purpose. In practice, however, they are beginning to lose their capacity much sooner and often need to be replaced significantly before their designed lifespan.
This degradation is partially a natural part of the electrochemical processes inside the battery. However, it is greatly accelerated by improper handling of batteries, which causes their significant premature aging.
The aforementioned improper handling causes damaging side effects on battery, like for example grid corrosion, loss of water, active mass degradation. However probably the biggest and most widespread problem is sulphation.
„Up to 84% of batteries fail prematurely from sulphation“.
What is sulphation?
Sulphation is the growth of large lead sulphate crystals on the negative electrodes. These crystals prevent electron flow between the electrodes, resulting in a reduction of battery capacity and lifespan
According to the Batterycouncil.org, about 80% of Lead-Acid batteries have to be replaced prematurely due to disorders caused by an improper handling and maintenance. A large part of these batteries can be repaired using the correct instrumentation. Their capacity can be restored and the service life can be returned to the designed level; or even extended beyond. The method by which the lost capacity can be restored is collectively referred to as the Regeneration/Revitalization of Lead-Acid Batteries.
What is Regeneration?
Regeneration can be described as a non-invasive process of recovering the lost Lead-Acid battery capacity and extending its life. It is an environmentally friendly, affordable, time and cost effective alternative to the full battery recycling. Compared to recycling, with Regeneration batteries are not decomposed to the level of their raw materials; nor does it include production of new batteries, which is environmentally polluting process. For these reasons, Regeneration can be considered as an environmentally gentle and clean way of revitalizing Lead-Acid batteries.
Technically, Regeneration is a process by which the lead sulfate crystals (PbSO4) formed on the negative electrodes are dissolved and their components are integrated in a natural way back into the internal environment of the battery (to the electrodes (Pb) and into sulfuric acid (H2SO4)).
The core of this method is application of electrical impulses of specific waveforms, frequency and intensity into the batteries. When those are applied to the battery in specific manner, the growth of undesirable lead sulphate crystals is reversed. These large lead sulphate crystals are conversed back into into lead and sulphuric acid. The crystals can be reduced considerably or even diffused totally, so the active material of the battery is renewed.
The overall positive outcome and benefit is keeping existing batteries in operation, so there is no need to replace them with new ones. As a result, the need for new batteries is reduced.
Battery regeneration is the time and cost effective alternative to the complete regeneration of the battery!
Advantages of regeneration in general
- Restores the battery capacity - this can be as high as up to it´s original nominal values.
- The capacity restoration is permanent and fully-valued, the battery regains back its characteristics qualitatively comparable to the new batteries.
- Unlike other ways of regeneration (for example chemical - adding chemical additives), our regeneration does not change the natural internal chemical environment of the battery.
- Extends battery life up to twice.
- Significantly increase number of charge/discharge cycles.
- Reduces a need for purchasing new batteries - less investments needed.
- Minimizes the maintenance costs.
- Lessens the electricity consumption during the charging process.
- Longer running hours of the battery means minimizing losses caused by downtime of the battery-powered equipment (forklifts, etc ...), due to too early battery discharge.
- Reduced charging time - reduces idle time caused by charging the battery.
- Battery failure reduction - lessened probability of the battery break down and therefore failure of the entire powered device.
- Extends the life cycle of the battery, what reduces the need for producing new batteries
- Conservation of natural resources, such as metals and minerals
- Helps prevent pollution by reducing the need to collect new, raw materials
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
- Demonstrates adoption of the best practice
There are basically two main approaches to the battery regeneration:
- One-time curative
- Regular preventive
One-time refurbishing (curative) regeneration
Revitalizes batteries that have lost their capacity and would have to be discarded. Since the batteries are often heavily sulphated after years of operation, regeneration effects and efficiency are lower than with regular preventive regeneration.
Regular preventive regeneration
This type of regeneration represents a more systematic approach. It is usually carried out at intervals of each two to three years to keep the batteries internally clean and in excellent technical condition. The effect is significantly higher comparing to the One-time Refurbishing Regenerationwith a high degree of efficiency.
Virtually all types of Lead-Acid batteries are suitable for regeneration. In general, the following battery capacity limitations apply:
- Low nominal capacity batteries (small batteries) can be regenerated, but the financial aspects need to be taken into account, the cost of regeneration versus the price of the new battery
- Very large batteries are at the other hand difficult to regenerate, it takes a long time to discharge them.
- Battery chemistry
- Basically any lead-acid battery
- Possibly also alkaline batteries but we have not tested it yet
- By Electrolyte Design
- Wet - Flooded
- By Battery Type/Utilisation
- By Battery Nominal Capacity
- in general any battery up to 1 500Ah; can be also of higher capacity, but regeneration efficiency can be lower; or more time needed for desired results
How long will regenerated batteries last for?
In general, regeneration desulphates the battery and repairs its internal environment. In the case of flooded batteries, the electrolyte is also stratified, which results in additional improvement of electrochemical properties. And last but not least, the regeneration process includes a complete battery maintenance service, which improves the overall battery performance.
Thus, the battery which has been regenerated and cleaned both internally and externally, begins its "new life" in excellent technical condition. Theoretically it is on the same starting line as the new battery, and its next lifetime will be affected by the same parameters as the new battery, such as the appropriate ambient temperature, the correct battery charge, the battery discharge below the specified level, and so on.
In fact however, there are also other qualitative differences between the regenerated battery and the new one, which are predominantly determined by:
- technical condition of Lead electrodes. Especially in cases where poor lead was used for the production of electrodes, they may became worn, with the lead peeling down from electrodes.
- if the battery has been placed in non-compliant areas for a long time, internal corrosion and oxidation of metal parts of the battery could develop. Since the regeneration does not eliminate internal corrosion or oxidation, it remains as a negative factor on the battery, which can affect the technical characteristics and battery life.
- natural aging of the material. This is something natural, that can not be avoided.
Thus, the regenerated battery and its future life will also be negatively affected by these aspects. Because it is highly individual, these internal degradation states would be developed in each battery to a different degree. However, they will affect its overall technical condition and will tend to shorten the life of the regenerated battery compared to the new battery.