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Corrosive gas from lead acid batteries in storage?

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  • Corrosive gas from lead acid batteries in storage?

    I just bought an electric powered utility cart. I'm not sure when I'll get to use it, but it was a deal too good to refuse. I figure I can use it to ram stuff further back into my storage unit, thus making room for more machines.

    It has a bunch of lead-acid batteries (at least it *should*), probably 4 or 6 of them. I expect they will be vented batteries, with access to the cells. I need to store it in a storage unit, and it will be located a few feet away from a couple of nice lathes. I am concerned about corrosion from the batteries. I am already paranoid about the lathes in storage, so this is going to really um, eat at me.

    I have read that having sulfuric acid in a shop can corrode stuff all the way on the other side of the shop, even with the bottle closed. So my questions relate to whether these batteries are a concern, and how to minimize any impact. Could I place litmus paper at different distances from the cart to measure the magnitude of the problem? I'd guess that the worst times would be when condensing humidity occurs?

    I haven't seen it in person, so I have no idea regarding the condition of the battery box, etc. I need to go pick it up downstate, put it in storage, and return home. So I won't have time to do much with it. It will probably get stored outside for a few weeks, giving me time to put together a plan before it goes into storage proper.

    I suppose I could park it on a sheet of visqueen, fold it up, and clamp it at the top (assuming it is very dry, and with a big bag of desiccant). But if there is any hydrogen venting, that isn't such a good idea.

    I will not be leaving it on a charger while I am not present. One option would be to remove the batteries. But that would leave the cart in a non-running state, forcing me to push it up the somewhat steep door approach when I want to get into the storage unit.

    One thought is a hose/duct with a computer fan, on a wallwart. The idea would be to draw a bit of air from the battery box area and vent it outside. I suppose that could be done near the top of the bay door. Though that is tricky because there is a seal up there, and it is a rollup style door.

    I can see the real solution is to store this somewhere else. Hmpf.

    Thanks for any ideas!

  • #2
    There will be no hydrogen if not charging. There will not no "acid mist" unless you are overcharging them. Hydrochloric acid release free chlorine ions and causes corrosion on anything steel. Sulfuric? not heard that at all.

    Even if you did charge in place (use a REAL multistage charger, not at cheap trickle charger) - some batteries have a screw plug to vent to the outside with a plastic tube. You see this on cars with the battery in the trunk (like Jaguars etc). Think boat house power - multiple batteries in small space with no issues unless you have something wrong causing over-charging.

    If you are really worried put them in sealed marine battery box and vent to the outside if necessary; your lathe will be ok anyhow.
    Last edited by lakeside53; 06-23-2017, 11:40 AM.

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    • #3
      I have had my lift stored in my shop for several years. It has 4 lead acid 6 volt batteries that I charge on a regular basis.
      I've never noticed any corrosion from charging them. In real close quarters like those storage compartments with their fluctuating temperatures,
      I'm not sure.

      JL................

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      • #4
        If you leave it without charging, the batteries WILL be bad when you get back to it..... assuming you are leaving it for some months. (Of course, the batteries may already be messed up)

        The batteries self-discharge, and after a few months, are very substantially "down". When left in discharged condition, they will become "sulfated", the normal lead sulfate produced as the battery discharges will turn into a form that makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to recharge what has been discharged. So then the batteries have less capacity, and you don't get it back by any amount of charging. The sulfate also can fall off the plates, in which case it is really "lost".

        You'd want to charge them every few weeks, like maybe 3 weeks or so. might get away with a somewhat longer time.

        I'd be more worried about that than corrosion. A few feet of space will cut the corrosion chances way down.

        If you can store it outdoors, you can put one of those little solar panel battery maintainers on it. That will generally do the job nicely.
        1601

        Keep eye on ball.
        Hashim Khan

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        • #5
          The "outgassing" of acid is related to hydrochloric (muriatic), not sulfuric. Stored or properly charged lead acid batteries shouldn't pose much of a corrosion issue.

          Ed
          For just a little more, you can do it yourself!

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          • #6
            I have a 6500# capacity forklift with alum diamond plate covering the 4000# plus battery & no corrosion so far & I ran a multi volt battery tender on it all winter which was too small but all I had & the held up well. It you charge so hard they boil I'm sure you have gassing but I take care of my batteries & have many. I watched a you tube where the guy doing it didn't even know whould work & I think he has the solution with 1 drawback. He took a completly dead 12v & dumped all the acid in a 5 gal pail & replaced with baking soda & water twice while aggitating the battery & it worked. I had 6-6v golf car batteries at the cabin here on the farm that I kept charged with a solar panel & they lasted 12 years untill my son left the inveror on for 4 months & some things on in the cabin. I used a charger/desulfator & 2 came back only to fail in a few months. My theory that this guy seems to have proven is you have to get the sulfate & bits of lead out so no loose material in the battery to short the plates. Anyone know how they rebuild a large forklift battery? I do know twice a year they add a 35%acis 65%water mixture instead of pure water. I'll try to find the video but the downside is the acid dumped in a bucket, can that be made safe somehow?
            "Let me recommend the best medicine in the
            world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant
            country, in easy stages."
            ~ James Madison

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            • #7
              First off, if they are regular lead-acid batteries they'll have sulfuric acid in the cells not hydrochloric. That means no chlorine gas to attack iron. They won't hurt anything even when charging as long as you don't charge them dry. Maintain a trickle charge and the cells full of distilled water. Sulfuric acid won't attack metal unless it comes in contact with it. Look under the hood of your car.

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              • #8
                Adding acid does not do too much that you would want done.

                The positive plate active material is in "pasted plates", which are just a lead alloy frame, or matrix, in which the active material (lead dioxide, PbO2) is held. When the active material is in a discharged state, and becomes "sulfated", it is not active any more. Adding acid does not affect that, but it CAN start to attack the lead frame when discharged. Then that is turned to lead sulfate, falls to pieces, and the battery is trash.

                You have to have the PbO2 material to have the battery charged. The reaction uses the sulfur to create PbSO4 (lead sulfate) and 2 water molecules as the battery is discharged. The negative plate, which is plain lead, also turns to lead sulfate.

                The problem with adding acid is that there is no more reactive material. If the reactive material that exists were "charged" after adding acid to a discharged battery, then there would be too much acid.

                Basically, it CAN give a boost, but it will not last.
                Last edited by J Tiers; 06-23-2017, 06:54 PM.
                1601

                Keep eye on ball.
                Hashim Khan

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                • #9
                  I think if it were a problem, cars would all have a rusted out area over the battery and all around nearby surfaces.

                  Dennis

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mixdenny View Post
                    I think if it were a problem, cars would all have a rusted out area over the battery and all around nearby surfaces.

                    Dennis
                    Some DO, when the paint wears off. But that is direct contact with acid that escapes, since cars generally overcharge their batteries. Car charging systems are not the finest for battery life.......
                    1601

                    Keep eye on ball.
                    Hashim Khan

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                    • #11
                      The ones that DO are typically the result of poor maintenance. My 92 Ford Taurus shows no sign of corrosion. It's had two alternators and I installed the fourth battery in it back in January. But, its only got about 83k miles (or 86k, I forget). I'm probably loosing batteries from non-use.

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                      • #12
                        I always thought it was odd the alternators make 3 phase AC then convert it DC but they sure work better than the old generators especially at low RPM.
                        "Let me recommend the best medicine in the
                        world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant
                        country, in easy stages."
                        ~ James Madison

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                        • #13
                          All generators (except maybe homopolar) make AC. An old automotive generator rectifies the AC by means of the commutator and brushes. Since some time in the 1960s solid state diodes became inexpensive and practical, and a three phase alternator is cheaper to manufacture and more efficient. Modern electronic charge controllers are better than the old electromechanical type.
                          http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png

                          Paul: www.peschoen.com
                          P S Technology, Inc. www.pstech-inc.com
                          and Muttley www.muttleydog.com

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                          • #14
                            That's good news, that it is hydrochloric that is the big problem. As bad as the sulfuric smells, I figured the fumes had to be problematic. I did find a paper on the topic I need to read. Apparently there are some concerns.

                            Thanks for the help.

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                            • #15
                              Here's Glug after a bit of tinkering https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3iY6W_qGKA
                              "Let me recommend the best medicine in the
                              world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant
                              country, in easy stages."
                              ~ James Madison

                              Comment

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