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Refillable Battery

Instead of recharging batteries replace the electrolyte...
  [vote for,

Instead of recharging batteries (say in an electric car), why don't you just have a valve on the side of the battery, that allows you to 'flush out the spent electrolyte and refill with fresh ready charged electrolyte? voila instant recharge, like filling up with gas.

If gas stations put all the old electrolyte into a large tank and 'recharged it' (like one giant battery) then it could be resold to other customers.

One of the problems could be the plates of the battery, might need cleaning but if the 'battery plates' where made of gel instead of solid lead, they could be even be replaced by the electrolyte pump at the same time.

Lunartick, Apr 07 2003

How Batteries Work http://science.hows...ks.com/battery3.htm
[krelnik, Oct 04 2004]

Vanadium Redox Battery - can be refueled or recharged http://www.ceic.unsw.edu.au/centers/vrb/
This can be baked more easily with a chemistry other than lead-acid. [scad mientist, Oct 04 2004]

As applied to Zinc-Air batteries... http://www.metallic...echnology/index.htm
... to create a Zinc-Air fuel cell. [scad mientist, Oct 04 2004]

In a flow battery, replacing the electrolytedoes recharge the battery http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_battery
[goldbb, Jan 11 2010]


       Erm, I don't think batteries work, and when you're talking about replacing the electrolyte and electrodes, you may as well replace the battery.   

       Secondly, batteries degrade.   

       Imagine you are a gas station manager and a customer offered to swap his dead old battery for a charged new battery, how much would you charge? Personally, I'd ask for the price of a new battery, plus a charging fee and a disposal fee.   

       Your idea was based in good intentions, though.
FloridaManatee, Apr 07 2003

       Yes, but the idea is to quickly replace the disposable aspect of a battery and keep the battery casing well and truly under the bonnet (us -hood). i.e no recharge time and no hassle.   

       Then you have an electric car that you can refuel very simply, over comming the fundamental drawback of electric transport (charging time).   

       obviously You would need to slightly redesign existing car batteries, I realise electrolyte degrades but its only a chemical reaction it would be reversible with the right filtering or ion exhange filters at the gas station especially if the gas station periodically part emptied then topped up with new it would keep its properties.   

       remember that Mobile phone batteries with Gel (dense liquid) electrolytes and electrodes already exist.   

       or better still have a fuel tank full of new electrolyte on board the car that pumps itself through the battery then you could go for even longer between refils.
Lunartick, Apr 07 2003

       Totally baked. When I worked in a bus depot, we regularly bought sulphuric acid to top up the bus batteries.
angel, Apr 07 2003

       ... except adding sulphuric acid does't actually [recharge] the battery, it simply replaces spoilt/spent electrolyte thats got dirty or inefficient, its not the same as filling with completly new electrolyte and hense a 'brand new' fully charged battery.
Lunartick, Apr 07 2003

       Somthing similar at :   


       (Not quite the same but similar)
Lunartick, Apr 07 2003

       Sulphuric acid *is* the electrolyte. It's not the acid which holds the charge, it's the lead / acid system. You can't just "charge" sulphuric acid, tip it into a dead battery and expect it to work.
angel, Apr 07 2003

       Would probably be cleaner and safer to have a battery system with a key on the top (like on the petrol cap) that when unlocked you could just slide an old battery out and slide in a new one... the pricing would be similar to butane gas cannisters - a large initial price which covers the main battery, and a small outlay for the charge each time.
Seaneeboy, Apr 07 2003

       So in other words, you want a fuel cell. Baked.
belg4mit, Apr 07 2003

       In many types of primary cell (non-rechargeable battery) the electrolyte is the first limitting factor for cell life; drilling a hole in the battery and pouring in more electrolyte may extend the life of the battery somewhat. This is generally counterproductive, however, because batteries are generally designed so that the electrolyte will 'wear out' just before eating through the battery casing. Extend the life of the electrolyte, and the battery will be much more likely to leak.
supercat, Apr 07 2003

       Here is how a lead acid battery works..   

       The cell has one plate made of lead and another plate made of lead dioxide, (with a strong sulfuric acid electrolyte that the plates are immersed in).   

       Lead combines with SO4 to create PbSO4 plus one electron.   

       Lead dioxide, hydrogen ions and SO4 ions, plus electrons from the lead plate, create PbSO4 and water on the lead dioxide plate.   

       As the battery discharges, both plates build up PbSO4 (lead sulfate), and water builds up in the acid. The characteristic voltage is about 2 volts per cell, so by combining six cells you get a 12-volt battery.   

       ** I guess what you would end up with would effectivly be a fuel cell that combiens powdered/gel lead/ lead dioxide and sulphuric acid instead of H2 + O2. **
Lunartick, Apr 08 2003

       As others have pointed out, this is a fuel cell. Unfortunately, when most people think of fuel cells, they think of Hydrogen fuel cells only. If those ever do become widely available, we will still most likely be getting our hydrogen from reformed oil since that's the cheapest source. This idea has the advantage of being cheap to charge electrically: taking advantage of reneable energy sources.   

       It seems to me that it would be quite difficult to apply this to the lead-acid chemistry, but this principle has been applied with the Vanadium Redox Battery (see link). The link to the Zinc-Air fuel cell shows how this concept was applied to an existing battery chemistry. Zinc-Air isn't rechargable, but the Zinc-Oxide is recycled back to zinc fairly efficiently.
scad mientist, Apr 08 2003

       The liquid replacement would not work. But it is a good idea. It is popular in the usa to change out propane tanks(barbeque size) at designated stores rather than refill them with propane. So just go to a battery station and exchange your batteries for charged batteries.
jvanzand, Jun 16 2003

       and don't forget, electrolytic fluid doesn't grow on trees.
clumpson, Oct 24 2003

       AHHHH AHHH AHHHHHHHH AHHHHHHHHH (runs away screaming and rending clothing)
WcW, Jan 11 2010

       Electric cars are missing, in first place, infrastructure. That is why opensourcing is not so bad an idea, when we understand it to be consolidating facts and ideas around specific goal. For example: how to recycle/replenish zinc oxide -> zinc, economically? Afas, technology is here and there and somewhere, but the big picture has not been drawn anywhere, in figures and and assured by research references.
aplcomp, Feb 16 2010


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