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Understanding battery used in automobiles

As automotive engines require an electrical power to rotate its starter motor, the battery must be employed. it is a rechargeable battery that is used to supply electrical current to a vehicle’s electrical components. apart from starting the engine, it’s one of the major components of an automobile charging system, as it stores currently for further usage.

An automotive battery is of different kinds but there are common ones used in vehicles. Wet cell battery is used. it contains six-cell, which each of it is lead storage consisting of alternate plates. The plate is made of a lead grid filled with sponge lead.

A 12-volt car battery

Modern vehicles including the gasoline and diesel type make good use of a battery. Their starting power use at least 3 per cent of the battery power, which is why the automotive battery is designed to deliver maximum current for a short period of time. Though electric and hybrid cars also make good use of a battery, but of a different type. This will be cover below this post.

Today we’ll be looking at the definition, functions, characteristics, components, diagram, types, specifications, working, maintenance and advantages and disadvantages of automotive battery.

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Battery Definition

In general term, a battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electricity. An automobile battery is a wet cell battery that contains actual energy that stores chemical energy and then transforms it into electrical energy on applications.

Apart from various battery designs and specifications, of serve same purposes. specifically, on automotive batteries, it has six cells with lead storage on each. Each cell is filled with a sulfuric acid solution, which is known as an electrolyte.

Functions of Battery

Below are the functions of battery in automobile engines:

  • The primary functions of battery in automotive engines are to power the starter motor so as to run the engine.
  • All electrical components in a vehicle rely on the battery.
  • In modern cars where most parts like the injector system, spark plug, sensors are also powered by the battery

The applications of battery in gasoline and diesel internal combustion engines. Their category of battery is referred to SLI batteries, serving the purpose of starting, lighting, and ignition on vehicles. while starting the engine, the SLI battery types supply the extra power necessary when the electrical parts in a vehicle require excess power above the supply of the charging system. This feature can also be called a stabilizer.

Special types of battery are used to power electric and hybrid cars. they use high-voltage electric vehicle battery, but the automotive battery can also be used as well. This allowed the used of standard automotive electrical parts that are designed to run on 12 volts. These types of battery are also called auxiliary batteries.

The electric vehicles (EVs) don’t charge the auxiliary batteries like the conventional internal combustion engines that use the alternator to boost their batteries while running. electric vehicles use a DC-to-DC converter to controls the voltage to the required float-charge voltage.

Read more: Understanding Engine Starter Motor

Components of a Battery

Below are the major components of batteries used in automotive engine engines

  • Container – Is a part made of the steel can, used to enclose the substances of the cell to form a cathode, which is a part of the electrochemical reaction.
  • Cathode – is a manganese dioxide and cathode.it is the electrode reduced by the electrochemical reaction.
  • Separators – are the nonwoven, fibrous fabric that separates the electrodes.
  • Anode – anodes are electrodes that oxidized. They are made of powered zinc metal.
  • Electrolyte – is the medium for movement of ion within the cell. It carries the ionic current inside the battery. it’s made of potassium hydroxide solution in water.
  • Collector – is a brass pin in the middle of the cell that conducts electricity to the outside circuit.

Battery Diagram:

internal components of a battery

12-volts battery diagram

Characteristic of a Battery

Below are the characteristics of battery used in automobile engine:

  • Available in a variety of sizes.
  • Moderately good high and low-temperature performance.
  • Electrically efficiently
  • Good float operation.
  • Low-cost battery and can be produced anywhere on a local basis.
  • The high open-circuit voltage of all aqueous electrolyte battery systems.
  • Good charge retention for intermittent charge applications.
  • Cells are easily recycled.

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Types of Battery

Below are the types of battery used in automobile and other components:

Starting, Lighting, and Ignition Batteries:

These types of battery are abbreviated SLI, it’s vastly used in automotive. Just as its name implies, it is used for starting a car and also provide power to the ignition. The battery also powers electrical components such as radio, headlights, etc. of a vehicle. STLs have a shallow charging circle, which means the time it takes to run down and get charged again.

Deep Circle Batteries:

A deep circle battery is ideal for marine vehicles, golf carts, small recreational vehicles, etc. this is because it provides sustained power over a longer period of time.

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Valve Regulated Lead-Acid Batteries:

These types of batteries are designed to be low-maintained as it does not require regular addition of water to the battery cell. Because of this, the battery is sealed leaving no chance for maintenance or servicing. It’s to be replaced when spoiled.

The valve-regulated lead-acid battery is of two types; Absorption Glass Mat (AGM) and Gel Cell batteries. The AGM supplies high rate of power in a short burst compared to other sealed versions. This is because of the fast reaction between the electrolyte and thin fibreglass surface mat.

On the hand, the Gel cell batteries are known for that because of their silica-based electrolyte. They also work well on deep circle applications like golf carts and marine vehicles. However, they are less effective on hot or cold temperatures.

Wet Cell (or Flooded) Batteries:

The wet cell batteries are less expensive than other types but require regular maintenance. It’s named wet cell because it contains a liquid substance, often a combination of lead, sulfuric acid and water. This help to create the required electrolyte that may lose over time of usage.

Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) Batteries:

Modern automobiles such as electric and hybrid cars use the lithium-ion battery. The battery is able to store significantly more energy and has less weight compared to traditional lead batteries. However, Li-ion batteries generally have low lifespans, which one of the major drawbacks, a maximum of three years regardless of use.

Batteries Specifications

Below are the specifications that can see on various types of batteries:

  • Physical Design – batteries are specified by their sizes, types, and location of their terminals as well as mounting style.
  • Amp-hours (Ah) – an ampere-hour is a unit related to the energy storage capacity of the battery.
  • Cranking Amperages – is the amount of current a battery can offer at cold cranking ampere which is 0-degree Fahrenheit (– 18 degrees Celsius). The cranking amperes is the amount of current a battery can provide at 32-degree Fahrenheit which is 0 degree Celsius.
  • Reserve Capacity Minutes (RCM) – this is the ability for the battery to sustain a minimum stated electrical load.
  • Group Size – this is the physical dimension such as weight, height, length, and width of a battery. it’s often stated by manufacturers.
  • Data codes – the data code help buyers to know if the battery they are buying is the recently released version.

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Working Principle

the working of automobile batteries is less complex and interesting. Most of it relies on a lead-acid chemical reaction to power the electrical components. The SLI is the type mentioned, it provides short bursts of energy in order to power the accessories, and importantly the engine starter motor. It starts the battery and as soon as the engines begin to run, alternator returns charge to the battery.

Just imagine a battery as a power plant that converts a chemical reaction into electrical energy.

Typically, SLI batteries have six cells, containing two plates at each. One of the plates is made of lead and the other with lead dioxide. Each cell can produce about 2-volts of energy. The plates are submerged in Sulphur acid that allows the two plates to react. This acid will trigger a reaction on the lead dioxide plate causing it to create ions and lead sulphate.

The irons created by the lead dioxide plate react to the other plate to produce lead sulphate and hydrogen. This result in a chemical reaction that produces electrons, the electrons move around the plates and generate electricity. The electricity flows out through the terminals to start the car and power other electrical components of the car.

The battery can be jumpstart because the chemical reaction process is entirely reversible. This is why the engine alternator can continue to charge the engine throughout the duration of its life.

Working of automotive battery in video:

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Batteries Maintenance

Taking good care of a battery will help extend its lifespan. Below are the tips on how to do car batteries maintenance:

The battery’s state of charge should be checked on a regular basis. There is a spot on the top of a battery that shows and indicates the condition of the battery. but the ideal way to check a battery state is with the use of a voltmeter to know the stabilized voltage. If a battery vent cap is movable, a hydrometer is used to determine the specific gravity (SG). An actively charged battery is expected to have a stabilized voltage of above 12.5 volts and an SG reading above 1.240.

The battery top should be clean, dry, and free from dirt and grime.

Cables, terminals, screws should be inspected on a regular basis to ensure there are no loose, breakage or damaged connections. These should also be free from dirt and corrosion.

A thin coating of high-temperature grease should be applied on the surface connections and posts. This is added for protection.

Battery case should be inspected for clear signs of physical damage or warpage. If such occur, it’s an indication of overheating or overcharged battery.

It is necessary to check if there is enough electrolyte in the battery covering the battery plates. If not sufficient, ensure topping and don’t overfill as the fluid levels will rise when the battery is fully charged and may overflow.

The electrolyte should be top up using distilled or demineralized water. Sulphuric acid should not be used.

The main cause of battery failures can be excess heat. The electrolyte evaporates due to high temperatures, which decrease the effective surface area of the plates exposed to the electrolyte. This also increases grid corrosion rate with temperature. Low heat or temperature can also lead to battery failure.

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In conclusion, an automotive battery is the main power source of our vehicle’s engine and its electrical components. it’s one of the charging system essential that cannot be evicted from a vehicle, most especially in modern electric and hybrid cars. We’ve seen the various types of batteries and their applications, remember we said the stating, lighting, and ignition (SLI) is common in automobiles. We also saw components, classifications, and maintenance of a battery.

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