It doesn’t matter whether you own a small UPS system or a huge, expensive car. The sulfation of lead-acid batteries can render your gadgets useless.
Some issues that you may experience include:
And, if a sulfated battery is left untreated, it will eventually fail to work. You will have no other solution than to spend hefty amounts on battery replacement. Of course, this won’t be possible again and again.
So, in today’s post, we’ll show you how to desulfate a battery. This may sound technical and complex, but it isn’t. We were able to do it and so can you!
To understand desulfation, we should first know what sulfation is.
Sulfation is the natural chemical process where lead sulfate crystals build up on the surface. It occurs every time the battery is in use. However, they’re temporary and disperse during the battery recharge.
The real trouble begins when you leave the battery unattended. By this, we mean that the battery isn’t used for prolonged periods. This causes the lead sulfate crystals to increase in size and become permanent.
As a result, the battery capacity is reduced and a chain of problems is triggered. You’ll notice excessive heating, loss of starting power, and a need for longer charging times. All this means your battery would no longer be efficient.
It may even fail. So, it’s always important to keep a lead-acid battery in constant use. You should also ensure:
In case your battery starts developing permanent sulfation, one should not panic because the process is reversible through desulfation.
Desulfation means the removal of sulfate. It is the reverse process of sulfation, though it doesn’t occur naturally. You must perform it to lessen the negative impact of sulfation. But does it really work? There are different methods to desulfate a battery. While some are advanced and others old, none gives the guarantee of completely Desulfating a battery. This is because a battery goes through constant sulfation when it’s used. At most times, you cannot even tell a sulfated and desulfated battery apart by looking at them. So, keep one thing in mind: desulfation can only help maintain a battery’s condition. In the case of permanent sulfation, the process will improve the battery performance. But, it will not stop sulfation completely.
The need for desulfation is evident when the battery isn’t holding a complete charge or isn’t performing efficiently. You will notice a low current supply and high internal resistance. Large white patches will also start to appear on the battery’s exterior. Here’s an example in the pictures below. However, sometimes, the battery will show none of these signs. This is when the battery has been left unattended for a little while. In this case, you can ensure the need for desulfation by doing a standing voltage test. You just need a multimeter for it. Use it to find out the battery’s standing voltage. If the results are lower than 12.6-volts (AGM battery) or 12.4-volts (starter battery), know that the battery is undercharged due to sulfation.
Desulfating a battery is not a simple process in any aspect. It’s true that there are different methods to perform it, and some may be easier than the rest. But, none are suitable for beginners. Below, we have explained the two best ways to desulfate a battery. It’s recommendable to ask an expert or professional to use them.
The large sulfate crystals on the plates can be broken down by subjecting the battery to intermittent, high-current pulses. This is done while the battery is charging. As a result, the rhythmic resonance and high- current makes the crystals split.
However, these electrical pulses should be optimized according to the extent of sulfation. Here are two circuits that are commonly used for the process:
The PWM circuit stands for pulse-width modulation circuit. This particular layout adjusts the amp output. There’s also an integrated 555 IC timer and two transistors to intensify the IC timer’s output. As a result, high-current pulses are generated.
The transformer & bridge rectifier circuit is a little complex. You’ll need to take care of a lot of things like the transformer rating, resonant frequency, and whatnot.
However, once constructed, the circuit sends 100Hz or 120 Hz powerful pulsating direct current. This instantly breaks the accumulated sulfate from the plates.
If you’re tech-savvy, it’s possible to build these circuits all by yourself and apply the current.
But, if that’s not something you prefer, hire a professional or purchase the best anti-sulfation devices in the market. These gadgets use the same short high-current pulses method.
However, you may find some models that use high frequency. Instead of varying the current or voltage, they adjust the amplitude and waves. The increased intensity causes the crystals to break just as efficiently as in high-power.
Epsom salt refers to a chemical compound that includes magnesium, oxygen, and sulfur. Its formal name is magnesium sulfate.
Typically, Epsom salts are used for relaxing muscles. People add them into the bath water and soak themselves to relieve all kinds of pain. However, Epsom salts work well for the desulfation of batteries too.
Please note Epsom salts can’t be used to Desulfate the batteries of large equipment. You can use this method for cars, UPS, and other small gadgets.
Things You’ll Need:
Here’s how to desulfate a battery using Epsom salts:
Once done, you’ll notice improved battery performance. Replace it back into the device properly.
We have already discussed the most preferred methods of Desulfating a battery. However, companies keep on inventing different technologies to tackle this problem.
Some other desulfation methods you may come across include STAMP, 555 timers, and Microcontrollers.