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Lead/Acid Battery Reclamation?

This is a discussion on Lead/Acid Battery Reclamation? within the Talk Car forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Does anyone here know anything about Battery Reclamation? I've watched a few YouTube videos, and know that it has something


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Old 10-16-2016, 10:22 AM   #1
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Does anyone here know anything about Battery Reclamation? I've watched a few YouTube videos, and know that it has something to do with "sulfation" (or some similar chemical process having to do with sulfur). There's sulphuric acid, and there's lead and after some time, something happens to the lead plates. They get "clogged" with sulphur-something-or-other.

I've read that it's possible to do something with magnesium, and clean the sulphur off the lead plates and get the battery working again.

The reason I'm asking is that I have two Seadoo Jet Skis I'm restoring/repairing, both need batteries, and I have about 8 lead-acid batteries that came with the Jet Skis (used), and none of them are any good. A new battery costs $100 or more. So, if I can get 2 of these 8 batteries to work again, I could solve my problem and save some money.

It's got to the point in my research where I doubt the guy talking on the YouTube video knows what he's talking about, because they fail to be very specific about the chemical process and exactly what is or is not going on. These are well-intentioned laypersons relating what they think they know and what they've heard other people say, but they don't really KNOW. And I want to talk to someone that actually KNOWS. For example, if it's just a matter of chemical "crud" on the lead, why can't ALL batteries be simply chemically treated with "something" and then put to re-use. The metal salvage companies might pay you $5.00 for a junk battery, but if they can be restored, why not do that and sell them for half of what a new battery ($140) costs.

Simple capitalism says that if it were possible to restore a large percentage of these dead batteries, people would be doing so and making money from it. But they're not, which implies that in most cases, it CAN'T be done. But then, why all the Youtube videos telling people that they CAN?

I'm looking for specific technical differentiation between why a battery can, or can not, be restored. Why is it that some can, and some can't. Etc...
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:39 AM   #2
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Try this link Battery Desulfation | REUK.co.uk

Trust me, this recycling, rejuvenation, re-use of batteries, call it what you will, happens. I've have seen it first hand. It may not be financially viable for most big economies, or perhaps the throw away mentality of the western world, but many third world countries recycle just about everything including batteries. Sometimes it's hard to argue for recycling given cheap imports, modern manufacturing techniques, and high labour costs, but as and 'Old School' bod, I do find the wastage hard to stomach sometimes.

The lead in these batteries will always be valuable so much of it is reclaimed, but I have yet to see (or be aware of) any businesses, individuals or companies that do anything other than strip the lead out and chuck away the rest.

I can't imagine doing it with just a handful of batteries would be worthwhile, or incur anything but a serious financial deficit seeing as acquiring the equipment to do so pretty much always requires some expenditure. On a larger scale or with some regularity... who knows.
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Old 10-17-2016, 05:48 AM   #3
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It's not really commercially viable either.
The problem is that you can't tell if a battery can be reconditioned until you go through the entire process.

It is feasible to do it at home on a small scale if you look at it more as a challenge than as a way of saving or making money.
It's the same as resurrecting Nicad batteries, same proces and same results, you will hopefully succeed with roughly half of them.
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Old 10-17-2016, 09:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kendallt View Post
It's not really commercially viable either.
The problem is that you can't tell if a battery can be reconditioned until you go through the entire process.
Technically what is the difference between a battery that can be "reconditioned" and one that cannot? Assuming two batteries are physically sound, nothing broken inside, and the only differences being chemical, what makes one battery capable of being chemically reconditioned and another battery unusable?
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:50 AM   #5
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The issue is that sulfating is just one reason batteries fail, overcharged, frozen, shorted, dropped etc. Unless the battery has bulged from hard freezing, massive or long term overcharge, or has a cracked case from dropping, you can't really tell from a visual exam. Using meters etc can help eliminate internally shorted batteries, but still won't tell if the battery can be reconditioned by desulfating.

Commercially,it's not always that it can not be done, it's that some are so badly sulfated that the time is prohibitive. With other batteries, the sulfation has caused internal damage which means it can't be repaired without opening them up. Plus you need a source of batteries and you will have to pay at least the going scrap rate to buy them

For personal use, it can be worth trying because it's your time and money, if you waste a few dollars worth of electricity and still end up with a dead battery, it's no big deal. Consider it a 'hobby', many people spend more than that to watch videos or play games.


Edit: I did it with the battery to my old BSA thunderbolt, it took an odd, long narrow, flat 6v battery that was discontinued except at specialty shops, it worked, but the life was never as good as new. If you didn't tickle the Amals just right, and cranked for more than a minute, you kicked or pushed.

Edit: (The old British bikes used Amal carbs that didn't have a choke, just a lever to sink the float and 'flood' the carb, 'Tickling the Amals' was basic starting routine.)
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Old 10-17-2016, 11:45 PM   #6
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So I read the linked battery page and it had a LOT of information I've not seen before, such as that they have electronic devices that "desulphate" batteries by running the voltage up that apparently "does something".

I'm still not convinced this is it. I guess I'm stuck on the idea that the sulphating process is a chemical reaction, and that another chemical reaction should be able to 100% reverse it, and you should get a perfectly restored battery at the end of the process.

And I didn't see anything about Magnesium Sulphate helping to recondition batteries. I'd expect that stuff to be used along with the special desulphating device. Which I also read you could DIY build one. Looking for a good schematic and if I find one, I might build one.
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:53 AM   #7
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This link explains lead shedding and why unless I just wanted to experiment for the pure sake of it, I wouldn't bother reclaiming a "shot" battery: Corrosion, Shedding and Internal Short - Battery University
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