Consequences if the Lead Acid Battery Runs Out of Water

Lead Acid Battery

15 October 2021

Consequences if the Lead Acid Battery Runs Out of Water

A lead-acid battery has positive and negative plates fully immersed in an electrolyte (Dilute Sulfuric Acid). The active materials of the plates are in such a manner that the number of active materials and the surface area of the plates decide battery capacity. When the battery electrolyte level reduces to a degree that the pinnacle portion of the plates is exposed, a situation is created in which a certain element no longer takes part in the reaction. This ultimately leads to a reduction in the battery capacity. Hence it is not recommended to allow the battery to run out of water.

A lead-acid battery consists of some major components, namely a positive electrode, a negative electrode, sulfuric acid, separators, and tubular bags. Sponge lead is highly reactive in the presence of moisture and oxygen and gets converted to lead oxide. In the process of conversion to lead oxide, it gets discharged and heated up. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that the acid is not spilled or drained from a wet battery once it is filled and charged.

When a battery with acid is drained, the wet moist negative electrodes come in contact with atmospheric oxygen. An exothermic reaction takes place releasing a widespread quantity of heat, thereby discharging the negative plates or electrodes and resulting in the oxidation of sponge lead to lead oxide.

During this exothermic process of heating up the negative electrodes, the other components within the cell, such as separators, tubular bags, plastic components, etc., get deformed, degraded, or damaged.

Whilst it is possible to revive such batteries if they are not fully damaged, the life and performance of such batteries do get adversely affected, and therefore it is far more crucial to ensure that there may be no spillage of acid from fully charged batteries. Loss of electrolyte from the pinnacle of the plates in the normal course without exposing the electrodes is, however, different and cannot be equated to spilling.

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