When you have a car and while using the car battery, you might have definitely faced the problem of battery inefficiency. You might have also faced problems such as longer charging time and shorter battery running time.
Apart from major battery problems such as broken battery cases and battery leakages, the common problem that causes battery malfunction and early battery failure is sulfation.
This is one of the major cause of early failure of lead-acid batteries in your vehicles. Hence the process called desulfation is applied to reverse this process of sulfation.
But what is this desulfation process actually? Is it an easy process? How long does it take to desulfate a battery?
This article provides you with all the answers to the questions raised above.
How long does it take to desulfate a battery?
Before knowing about battery desulfation and time required for this process, you need to have a brief understanding of the sulfation process.
What is battery sulfation?
The batteries you generally use in your vehicles are lead-acid batteries and they are prone to a problem known as sulfation.
Sulfation is nothing but the buildup of lead sulfate crystals on the lead plates inside the battery case. Do you know that a lead-acid battery consists of plates of lead and an electrolyte of dilute sulfuric acid in between them?
During the process of electricity generation, some amount of lead from the plates combine with the electrolyte to form lead sulfate. This lead sulfate gets deposited on the lead plates and this process is known as sulfation.
Why is this sulfation an issue?
Some amount of lead sulfate formation may not be a problem. But if this lead sulfate crystal formation becomes excessive, large and hardened, then it is surely a problem.
These lead sulfate crystals act as an insulator and reduce the plate area in contact with electrolyte. Because of this, the active battery material which does the work is reduced here.
Over a period of time, this built up increases and finally reduces the amount of charge the plates can hold, thus affecting the battery capacity completely.
Then what is desulfation?
Desulfation is the process of reversing the battery sulfation. Simply, it is a process of battery sulfation removal. It involves the usage of various methods in order to dissolve the crystals formed on the lead plates of the battery.
There are various methods to carry out this desulfation process. Various processes include,
1. Applying charge at a higher voltage
In this process, you apply higher voltages for shorter spans of time to dissolve the lead sulfate crystals.
This method may cause overheating of the battery and there is a chance of potential explosion of the battery. Hence great care is to be taken so that the battery does not get heated excessively. If you notice that the battery getting heated, it is time to give a pause to the process.
2. Adding chemical additives
In this method, you desulfate a battery with chemical additives like Epsom salt. This is a common chemical known as magnesium sulfate and you can get it in your nearby drug store.
After adding the chemical to the battery cell, you need to recharge the battery, discharge it to 50% of its capacity and again recharge it a couple of times.
Following this process may help in desulfation of the battery.
3. Using desulfating devices
There are special desulfating devices in the market that send pulses of current to break the sulfate crystals formed on the lead plates. This is called pulse conditioning.
This process involves sending short blasts of high voltage and high-frequency electricity into the battery to break down the lead sulphate crystals. As this method sends the pulses for shorter durations, the temperature of the battery as a whole does not raise.
How long does this desulfation process take?
When you desulfate a battery yourself, you might think how long does it take to desulfate a car battery? Is it an easy process or time consuming one?
After you decide to desulfate a battery, the time taken to finish the desulfation process can depend on various factors. It would depend upon the amount of sulfation that occurred in a battery, the size of the battery and the method you have chosen to desulfate the battery.
When you choose to desulfate a battery using Epsom salts or caustic soda, it may not work instantly. I have heard of batteries that use Epsom salts, taking several weeks of time for their revival. Even after the recharge, if the battery does not attain the required voltage reading, you need to discharge the battery and recharge it again.
Sometimes when you use a good 12v smart charger, it can desulfate the battery in a few hours itself. But if the sulfation is heavy it may take a day or even two days for the desulfation process to complete.
For example, using a CTEK battery charger in desulfation mode may take a few days to complete the desulfation process if the car battery has heavy sulfation.
Desulfation is not a quick process that can reverse all the sulfation occurred. It will usually take some time to reverse the battery condition. This can also depend on various factors such as the condition of the battery, the amount of sulfation, and the method of desulfation used.
Even though some people have stated that they have desulfated their batteries within 48 hours, there are some people who have said that the process can take up to a month.
Tips to avoid battery sulfation
Even though there is no way to avoid battery sulfation completely. There are tips that you can follow to avoid excess sulfation and extend your battery life.
1. Keep the battery charge of your vehicle at full charge when you are not riding it. Even if the battery is stored, make sure that battery is charged so that the voltage does not drop below 12.4 volts.
2. Do not store a battery in higher temperatures above 75 degrees. As the temperature increases, the battery tends to self-discharge more.
3. Make sure not to undercharge your batteries. Batteries must be charged to its full capacity to prevent sulfation.
4. Make sure that the electrolyte level is not low. When the battery plates are exposed to air, they will immediately begin to sulfate.
5. Do not leave your battery in a partially discharged state or discharged state for extended periods of time. This causes the hardening of sulfation built up which is more difficult to remove.