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Battery safety

Unkel Kunkel

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Had to charge a battery recently- haven't had to for years.

Got me thinking about  mishaps that I had seen or been involved with over the years

So at risk of sounding like some  preaching 'elf and safety  bod here we go.


My main point is these folk, in each case,  were   professional sensible  people- in one case a respected  motor engineer of over forty years  experience.


 Beware Direct shorting of battery terminals:

2 cases- 1) A long ring spanner touched both terminals=Loud bang,part of spanner blew off.red hot spanner 2 burnt fingers.

               2) Again direct short -across terminals of a tractor battery.This time short through spanner and metal strap of wrist watch resulting in nasty circumferential burn to wrist.


-another reason to remove your wristwatch when" mechanicking" - esp if it has metal strap



 Explosion from hydrogen:


A very experienced  car mechanic charging  a battery in a room where many batteries were stored and several on charge=

He disconnected the battery  without switching off the  charger at mains first - spark from battery terminal caused explosion from hydrogen build up.Battery blown to pieces.He was splashed with acid.He doused himself with water.He sustained a corneal abrasion from the flying battery debris aggravated by the acid.Twenty years on he has gets frequent painful flare ups of of inflammation from his damaged cornea requiring drops for 2 weeks.He has resisted the idea of a corneal transplant but his vision is extremely poor in this eye.  


There were explosions when mini owners  peering into the boot to check the battery used  a lighted match....





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I had an old mini countryman, battery under the rear set. New battery, started the engine, boom! Battery blew up, fortunately no one sitting on the seat. Turned out to be a faulty connection within the battery, open circuit, then spark!


Last year after the winter lay off my battery was stone dead flat, I'd left the interior light on. :huh:  Took it out the car and my son-in-law put it on charge. Reconnected it and a flash and a phut from the alternator. He'd reverse charged the battery, alternator dead!

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I found out the hard way at school, remember ?? the old glass accumulators only a few volts each but with a about 6 in series we were burning name tags in bits or tin , loads of sparks and .........Kaboom   blew the glass to bits,  stuck terminals into  the ceiling tiles , it was the steel carry handle strap that saved me from any disaster....do we learn  ..hope so


When younger did the gas in a   treacle   tin  experiment  but used a 5 gallon oil drum   ..yes it  blew immediately   as not enough gas ...Mum did  wonder what did happen to my eyebrows 

but they grew back  !!!


     the good old days of having fun ?????

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Now I think of it reverse charging a battery was my dad's method of reviving an ailing battery. Completely flatten it, reverse charge it, short it out. His theory was this knocks the nasties off the plates and the battery is back to normal. As I recall it did work, but they deteriorated very quickly! 

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Hello All

             We live off grid and have a set of batteries to store the pv and wind energy (1100amp/hours @ 24volts 12 cells and bl**dy heavy) you should smell the hydrogen gas coming off them when charging(they are in a box vented to outside)


If any one want's battery water use these people I have just had 10 yes 10 delivered for our batteries and I also use it in the cars(I think MX5's insist on it)




and delivery is free and 10% off!!!!



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Bought a cigarette lighter adapter with two usb sockets of ebay, it also has a digital voltage display. In the Vitesse it peaks at just under fourteen volts in the modern car just under fifteen. Did I read somewhere that this is why modern technology batteries are unsuitable for classics as they will not fully charge.





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Do you mean 12.6, just checked both batteries with digital multimeter Vitesse 12.6 modern 12.4, both cars not used for at least twelve hours both driven yesterday. Vitesse battery disconnected when not being used both batteries about same age bit under three years.


The peak voltage was running, it was just the difference in charging voltage I assummed was down to different battery technology.





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This one was on a Spitfire 1500 that I was servicing; I charged it, replaced it on the car, and as I attached the power leads there was a massive bang and it blew up... the cover actually flew right over the roof of my house. A combination of a hot, sunny and windless day, a buildup of gas, and a spark.




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The explosion risk is when or  there  has been  "gassing"

Oxygen also  comes off then ,Pete.

Gassing  occurs during charging  (especially overcharging  whether bench charging or alternator fault) and at end of bench charging.

It is also more likely on sulphated  batteries  ie old clapped out, run flat or so called  "week-end" cars.


When the battery is getting charged there is release of hydrogen and also because    electrolysis of water,also  oxygen=

      2H2O => 2H2 (g) +  O2 (g)

The hydrogen explodes "best" at a concentration of 4-70%. Normal atmosphere. is 21% O2 .So these conditions are fairly easily  met inside the battery and its immediate environs.

The result is quite dramatic  and not without risk of quite serious injury as the fragments of battery can fly like shrapnell (as Colin described); eyes are at risk and although deafness after explosions is often temporary it can be permanent.



It is said that since  mid 1990s and trend towards lead calcium batteries  etc  batteries  gas less anyway  and are   getting safer- they certainly last longer.


Since sulphated batteries are more likely to go bang  when charging it suggests  

  • not letting your battery get very discharged

 an excuse for   frequent use  of your vehicle

  • and/or  use of  one of these clever little  trickle charger/.maintenance charger such as CTEK  etc 
  • being  rather cautious of vigorously charging old sulphated batteries that you know are near to dead. 

Dearly beloved, Here endeth the lesson 

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Hilarious, Cookie!


This  a subject which holds fascination and is studied  very widely ,mainly at a  very personal level, but also in in academic institutions  throughout the world  through the science of Flatology.


Through extensive  flatological research we know that the answer to  Pete's question lies in the colon.It is here where intestinal  fermentation of the polysaccharides takes place.

The  Brassica genus - such as sprouts  are known to be  sulphur containing.The fermenation  impart a small, but  highly significant ,amount of hydrogen sulphide, H2S to the nitrogen, and air of the flatus.

Also in the flatus, there is  hydrogen and methane which of course are  are flammable.  Yes, flammable - but please don't try this at home (but if you really  must,  then only try it at home)


Flatology also studies  the question of the effect of high altitude on flatus. High Altitude Flatus Expulsion, or HAFE as we  flatologists like to call it   is a remarkarble phenomenon  experienced by climbers and others when  above 11,000 feet(largely explained on the basis of Boyle's law)

Dietary advice for these adventurers is avoid  ingestion of  brassicacae (with special note  here to Pete - no sprouts )

ref: .Aeurbach Miller .West Jr. Med., Vol.134(2) 1981 Feb


Astronauts have provided further research data specific to the special challenges associated with  their unique  environment.

Although much  work was published on this subject in the 1980 , more recently  this area of study has been silent (but  deadly)

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Shouldn't be a problem in a pressurised plane!


Meanwhile,  in the afternoon  Flatology clinic of  Dr Janus (Hugh to his friends)


Mr Sprout, "I have self referred myself to your special clinic, doctor"

Dr J, "How can I help?"

Mr S, "Well, My farts  are so unusual I thought your department might like to investigate them in the interests of medical science.I don't mind being sent for tests and investigations "

Dr J, " Mmm, tell me about them"

Mr S"Well, They are very very  frequent 10 -20 a day and they last a very long time -up to 3-4 minutes each, sometimes up to a quarter of a hour"

Dr J "That is unusual,Mr Sprout , and it must cause you  a great deal of  inconvenience."

Mr S "Not really doctor, even though I spend several  hours a day in board meetings, meet clients for lunch and I go to the theatre nearly every evening, luckily the other really unusual  thing about  my farts is that they are all  completely silent.I started one your  waiting room and it's still going"


Dr J "I would like you to take this referral form over to the hospital,please"

Mr S " Is it the first of the special  tests?"

Dr J,"No Mr  Sprout ,it is for a hearing  aid"

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