Identification and remediation of sulfation in lead-acid batteries using cell voltage and pressure sensing

Ying Shi, Christopher A. Ferone, Christopher D. Rahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The operating environment, manufacturing variability, and use can cause different degradation mechanisms to dominate capacity loss inside valve regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries. If an aging mechanism for each cell can be identified in real-time, cell usage can be adjusted by the battery management system to optimize the performance and service life of the energy storage system. In this paper, the cell voltage and pressure of new and dead VRLA batteries are monitored during testing to determine the cause of death of the cells. The new cells have fairly uniform performance with limited signs of degradation while the cells in the dead battery have widely ranging performance, especially at the end of discharge and charge. Based on the measurement data, it appears that one cell died from sulfation and another three died of dehydration. The battery capacity is mainly dictated by the sulfated cell. A desulfation charging control scheme with pressure feedback is designed to break up hard sulfate and recover capacity while minimizing water loss by using low current charging. The capacity of the cell is recovered by 41% with minimal water loss, demonstrating the effectiveness of the desulfation charge controller.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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