Batteries are used in vehicles to facilitate various processes such as engine ignition, lighting purposes and air conditioning in cars during extremely cold or hot weather. Therefore, batteries are essential electrical devices that perform vital functions in vehicles and other electronic devices. However, automotive batteries explode under different circumstances because of several reasons. Some of these reasons are accidental while others are preventable. Understanding why do batteries explode is very paramount so that effective preventive measures can be put in place to minimize the chances of explosions. The points expounded below explain in detail why batteries explode.
Why do Batteries Explode?
1. When Batteries are Overcharged
A lead-acid battery should not be overcharged because this is very dangerous. When the battery is overcharged, hydrogen gas accumulates in the battery chambers at a higher rate than the rate at which the gas is dissipated to the surroundings. With this buildup of hydrogen around the battery, the air around the battery becomes saturated with hydrogen gas and in case a minor spark occurs at the terminals, the battery will explode because hydrogen is highly flammable.
2. When the Battery is too Old
As a battery age with time, it loses water. The water loss exposes the lead plates causing them to bulge a bit. During starting when a car demands the maximum amount of energy from the battery, the lead plates may flex a bit coming into contact with each other. Sparks then develop at the contact points of the plates leading to an explosion because of the presence of hydrogen gas in the battery chambers.
3. When there is Buildup of Water Vapour
When a battery is charging, the electrolyte which is a combination of water and sulphuric acid usually boils producing water vapor. When this water vapor accumulates faster than the rate at which it is dissipated to the environment, the battery will explode because of the buildup of excess internal pressure.
4. When there are Lose Cables and Battery Terminals
Sparks usually occur when there is a loose connection between two or more contacts. When there is a lot of dirt between power cables or between a power cable and the battery terminals, electrical arcing is inevitable. When arcing occurs in the presence of hydrogen gas, it catches fire which causes the battery to explode.
5. When the Vehicle is not Jumpstarted Well
Explosions also occur when the car is not jumpstarted properly. One mistake that many people make is to connect the jumper cables to the good battery first then to the dead battery. A connection done in this manner would always lead to sparking at the battery terminals which may ignite the hydrogen gas around the batteries leading to an explosion. It is usually advisable to connect the jumper cables to the dead battery first then to the good battery to minimize sparking at the battery terminals.
6. When the Battery is Filled with Excess Electrolyte
When the battery has excess electrolyte than the recommended amount, there remains a very little space for the expansion of hydrogen gas when the battery is operating. Pressure then builds up in the battery to the extent that the battery cannot handle. When this happens, the battery bursts and explodes.
7. When the Lead Plates are so Close to Each Other
The modern cars are being manufactured with larger cell plates to provide more energy because of the increasing power demands in modern vehicles. When the plates are so close to each other, the chances of them coming into contact with each other are very high meaning that with minimum vibration, a short circuit might result, and this will lead to an explosion of the battery.
In conclusion, understanding why do batteries explode is very vital because, with such knowledge, preventive measures can be put in place to minimize the chances of battery explosions.
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