While many automobiles and aircraft continue to utilize the combustion of fuel to power systems and create movement, there are still many onboard electronics and systems that require electrical power to function. Furthermore, electrical power may even be needed to kickstart the initial operations of an engine, making equipment like batteries essential. For a vehicle such as an aircraft, one of the most common batteries used is the lead-acid type with their large power-to-weight ratios and recharging capabilities. In this blog, we will discuss lead-acid batteries in more detail, allowing you to have a better understanding of their design and functionality.
The two primary materials of a lead-acid battery are its lead and sulphuric acid, the lead being submerged within the acid to create a controlled chemical reaction. This reaction results in the production of electricity, and the reversal of this process recharges the battery. This is a fairly simplistic explanation, so it can be useful to break things down further. For example, lead-acid batteries also feature a positive and negative plate which are crucial for operations. Typically, the positive plate is made from lead peroxide, whereas the negative plate is made from sponge lead. Meanwhile, the dilute sulfuric acid serves as the electrolyte of the battery, and it is implemented alongside water with a ratio of 3:1 with acid being greater.
To form the battery itself, the lead peroxide and sponge lead plate will both need to be dipped into the dilute sulfuric acid. Meanwhile, the plates are externally connected by an electric current. At this time, the acid molecules will split into positive hydrogen ions and negative sulfate ions. As the hydrogen ions reach the lead peroxide plate, they will take electrons until they form PbO and H2O molecules. Then, the PbO will further attack the plate to create PbSO4 and H2. As this occurs, the negative sulfate ions will move toward the electrode, giving up any extra electronics to form radical S04. As this molecule cannot exist on its own, it will quickly react with the PbSo4 to form lead peroxide and sulfuric acid. Through this basic set of operations and reactions, the lead-acid battery can generate power that may be harnessed by a variety of systems and components.
In order to charge the lead-acid battery, the reverse electromechanical reaction will need to be carried out. As such, electrical energy from the charger will have to be transformed into chemical energy within the battery as it does not store electricity itself. Current flow will be reversed so long as the charger has a greater voltage of the two, and this creates an excess of current flow at the negative plates. This results in the attraction of hydrogen ions, the hydrogen reacting with lead sulfate to create sulfuric acid and lead. As much of the sulfate will be gone from use, hydrogen will rise from the negative plates. As this occurs, the oxygen within water molecules will react with the lead sulfate, creating lead dioxide. This causes gassing as oxygen bubbles emit from the positive plates.
Due to the chemical reactions involved with lead-acid batteries, it is important that they are well maintained and cared for to ensure proper operations and safety. For example, lead-acid batteries self discharge and will need to be watered regularly to keep solutions balanced, so one must have a good understanding of proper use and care. Whether you are in the market for battery assemblies or various tools and components for maintenance, there is no better source for all your needs than Stacked Aerospace.
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