Sulfation refers to the process of building up lead sulfate crystals inside a lead-acid battery. Due to sulfation, battery capacity gets smaller and smaller every day. But what is battery desulfation? In fact, it is the process of renovating lead sulfate crystals inside the battery. After the lead-acid battery has been desulfurized, you can use it again with almost its full capacity.
Specifically, battery desulfation is not a process of every battery. So, in the first place, you should understand that desulfation is the opposite of sulfation, and people seek desulfation when their batteries are sulfated critically.
If you look at the usual process, the lead sulfate crystals, located inside a lead-acid battery, break down in effect to regular use. However, the situation is not always the same. When a lead-acid battery is used for many years, the lead sulfate crystals cannot be broken down perfectly.
And sometimes, the crystals can remain in the lead plates, causing the battery to stop discharging at peak capacity. Besides, the lead surface crystals become hard when you discharge the battery partially and leave it thereafter. As a result, the lead sulfate crystals create a harsh condition on the lead plates.
This way, the battery capacity cannot remain stable and starts to reduce. In that case, only desulfation can bring the battery into its previous condition, and it becomes usable again. As a matter of fact, if your battery needs desulfation, you can identify them using some particular symptoms as mentioned below.
1. High Internal Resistance
When the lead-acid battery runs through deep sulfation, it shows high internal resistance. So, the internal zone may not react in a usual manner, and the chemicals won’t respond to the electrolyte for creating a charge.
2. Low Current Supply
Another key symptom is the reducing behavior of the current supply. Coupled with the internal resistance, the lead-acid battery will start to discharge a low current when the sulfation has reached a critical level. In the case of lower current productivity, you can check if your battery is really sulfated or not. However, sometimes this symptom can happen due to other reasons, like expired chemicals, damaged lead plates, etc.
3. White Coating On Lead Plates
Considerably, this symptom is the best to identify any sulfation on the battery. Because, you can never get a white coating on the lead plates until the battery starts the sulfation process. Not to mention, you can simply figure out the depth of the sulfation by seeing the coating. If the white layer has spread heavily in the broader area, you must desulfate the battery immediately.
How Battery Desulfation Works
On the whole, battery desulfation is not a peaceful process. Because, you need to destroy or remove the lead sulfate crystals located between the lead place. Interestingly, all these things should be done without damaging any part of the battery. That’s why battery desulfation is always considered a susceptible repairing process.
Firstly, you need to separate the solidified lead sulfate crystals from the chemicals. After that, these crystals need to dissolve again into the electrolyte. But, you cannot use standard charge voltage to start the dissolving process. Instead, you need to use a much higher voltage than usual to separate the particles into the electrolyte.
If you focus on the risk, inputting high voltage into the battery can damage the battery because of overheating. To add more, the tendency to produce excess gas will increase, and the battery can blast in the end. So, battery desulfation also requires pulse conditioning to avoid such dangerous risks.
Notably, pulse conditioning helps create short blasts instead of a single critical blast to keep the balance. As a matter of fact, you can also get some desulfator options available on the market which can perform the same tasks without any hazardous activity.
Battery Desulfation Techniques
Though desulfating a battery is not a simple task, several techniques are available that are effective in result. After studying various battery desulfators of the market, we have arranged a list of mostly used battery desulfation techniques below.
1. 555 Timer Circuit
The 555 timer circuit, also known as IC 555, is a modified circuit that can work using a standard control mode. After connecting this circuit to the battery, the output from IC starts to deliver the high current pulses to the battery. When using the 555 timer circuit for the desulfation process, the control mode should be set to the low “mark” ratio.
Similar to the 555 timer, a microcontroller is also a circuit that can control the pulse rate using the microchip. As a result, the battery gets high current pulses to return the lead sulfate crystals into position. However, this technique is not popular due to the unavailability of microcontrollers in general shops.
Identically, the stamp is an advanced version of 555 based desulfator, which also works using microcontrollers. And, one stamp unit is enough for your battery desulfation when you know the process.
4. Short High Current Pulses
Sadly, this desulfation technique is suitable for resting batteries. Because, this high current pulses method takes more than three weeks to complete. Besides, you need to trickle charge the battery using the desulfator and continue it until the full charge. And, your battery will be desulfated automatically.
In the final analysis, you can think about battery desulfation simply as the process of renewing sulfated areas of a lead-acid battery. And, storing a lead battery without even charging it can cause sulfation and create the need for battery desulfation. In either case, you can use an automatic desulfator or a suitable circuit that can rearrange the remaining lead-acid crystals and finish the battery desulfation process.
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