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Lead Carbon Batteries

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

All batteries have essentially the same components: electrolytes, positive and negative terminals and separators integrated into 'cells'. Battery types are differentiated primarily on the basis of the nature of the material from which its components are made. The most important component of a battery is the electrolyte. Mostly, a battery is differentiated on the basis of the nature or technology of its electrolyte or any other of its major component.

Lead carbon batteries--or Premium Lead Carbon (PLC) batteries--are an upgrade on the traditional valve-regulated, AGM lead-acid battery technology. The VRLA batteries are batteries constructed to eliminate the need for constant checks and to eliminate the emission of fumes or gases on a continuous basis and the attending dangers. They are thus known as Sealed Maintenance-Free (SMF). They are completely sealed and therefore eliminate the risk of acid spillage during transportation. Due to their construction they can be mounted in any orientation.

Their maintenance-free construction is done in these three ways:

  1. FLA batteries have openings at top from where distilled water is to be added for maintenance and safe running. This can be sealed off and replaced with a self-regulating valve. A battery constructed in this way is called Valve-Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) battery.

  2. By making the acid electrolyte into gel-like liquid. This is done by adding silica dust to the electrolyte, forming a thick putty-like gel. A battery constructed in this way is called a gel cell battery.

  3. By holding the acid electrolyte in glass mats, as opposed to freely flooding the plates. A battery constructed in this way is called Absorbent Glass Material (AGM) battery.

Main Features

A PLC is a special type of an AGM battery. This means that the electrolyte is held in glass mats. The main feature of the PLC battery is that it has a faster charging rate.

In a PLC battery, a specially formulated carbon additive that enhances the battery's energy density and life expectancy is added to the negative plate of an AGM battery. The added carbon gives the battery electrode many of the properties of a super-capacitor, which improves charge and discharge performance. The result is a longer life and a high charge rate that allows a PLC 2100 to go from 50% up to 90% state of charge in under an hour.

Also, the PLC battery technology helps reduce sulphation. Sulphation is when sulphate crystals grow on the negative plate. It is one of the primary causes of failure of traditional lead-acid batteries and is generally caused by partial charging and ageing. Unlike regular lead-acid, PLC batteries can operate between 30% and 70% state-of-charge and in harsher charging environments without fear of becoming sulfated.

No cooling fans or systems are needed for lead-carbon batteries. Also, no BMS (Battery Management System) is needed to prevent over-charging and under-charging on a per cell basis. There is also no thermal run-away risk of individual cells overheating, exploding, and burning. No harmful and toxic gases coming off lead-carbon batteries.

Also, PLC batteries are hundred percent recyclable.

PLC batteries are currently available from Victron Energy, Ritar, OutBack Power, Prag, Multipower and DBS Leoch.

PLC batteries have a longer life compared with existing VLRA and traditional Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries. If the battery’s ‘lifetime’ is taken to be the point at which it can only be charged/discharged to 80% of its original capacity, a PLC battery will last for 7000 cycles at 30% depth of discharge daily compared to 2000-5500 cycles at 30% depth of discharge for VRLA-types and 800 cycles at 30% depth of discharge for flooded batteries. This means that less of the battery’s nominal capacity (in kilowatt-hours, or kWh) can actually be used on a regular basis. This make them suitable for off-grid installations.

Over the life of the battery, they cost lower per kWh than traditional deep cycle batteries and other battery types. They are capable of operating at subfreezing temperatures and do not need active cooling. They also weigh lighter than other battery types of the same size and capacity. This makes them easier to carry and put in place without needing extra equipment.

PLC are the future of lead-acid deep cycle batteries.

SolarKobo helps her clients in Lagos and everywhere in Nigeria make the best possible choice of batteries for their solar and inverter power systems.

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