Nondestructive Forensic Pathology Of Lead-acid Batteries

Open Access
Ferone, Christopher Anthony
Graduate Program:
Mechanical Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 05, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Christopher Rahn, Thesis Advisor
  • Hosam Kadry Fathy, Thesis Advisor
  • VLRA
  • Sulphation
  • Water loss
  • BMS
Valve Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA) batteries can degrade due to a variety of mechanisms, including corrosion, hard sulfation, water loss, shedding, and active mass degradation. VRLA batteries are designed to minimize these e ects as much as possible but the operating environment, cell-to-cell and battery-to-battery manufacturing variations, and use can cause di erent degradation mechanisms to dominate capacity loss and/or impedance rise. With accurate State of Health monitoring, cell usage can be adjusted by the battery management system (BMS) to optimize the performance and life of the energy storage system. The BMS must be able to determine in real-time the predominant degradation mechanism for each cell and adjust use accordingly. In this paper, new and dead VRLA batteries are tested with constant, sinusoidal, and pulse charge/discharge current inputs while measuring the cell voltage and pressure to determine the cause of death of the cells. As expected, the new cells have fairly uniform performance with limited signs of degradation. The cells in the dead battery, however, have widely ranging performance, especially at the end of discharge and charge. Analysis of the charge/discharge data indicate that two cells died of water loss and a third cell died of sulfation. The remaining three cells were fairly healthy but will accompany their dead companions to the recycling center nonetheless. While the full charge/discharge data provided useful forensic pathology data, EIS and pulse charge/discharge data varied with aging mechanism but the correlation was unclear.