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Improving Battery Life

Improving Battery Life

The simplest and most obvious way of getting the maximum life outof a battery is to ensure that it always works well within itsdesigned operating limits. There are however some further actionswhich can be taken to increase the battery life. These aresummarised below and in depth explanations and examples areavailable by following the links.
1. Charging
As noted in the section on Charging most battery failures are dueto inappropriate charging. The use of intelligent chargers andsafety systems which prevent the connection of unapproved chargersto the battery may not extend battery life but at least they canprevent it from being cut short.
2. Battery Management
Battery management is essentially the method of keeping the cellswithin their desired operating limits during both charging anddischarging either by controlling the load on the battery or byisolating the battery from the load if the load can not becontrolled. See Battery Management
3. Cell Balancing
As noted above, in multi-cell batteries problems could arise frominteractions between the cells caused by small differences in thecharacteristics of the individual cells making up the battery. Cellbalancing is designed to equalise the charge on every cell in thepack and prevent individual cells from becoming over stressed thusprolonging the life of the battery. See Cell Balancing
4. Redundancy
Battery lifetime, though not cell lifetime, can be improved byadding extra back-up cells to the battery to replace automaticallyany cells which have failed. The trade off is larger, more complexand slightly more expensive systems. See Reliability ImprovementThrough Redundancy
5. Load Sharing
For pulsed applications the peak load on the battery can be reducedby placing a large value capacitor in parallel with the battery.Energy for large instantaneous loads is supplied by the capacitoreffectively reducing the duty cycle and stress on the battery. Thecapacitor recharges during the quiescent periods. Claims of a sixtypercent increase in cycle life are made for this technique.
Another benefit of this arrangement is that since the batterysupplies less of the instantaneous peak load current, the voltagedrop across the battery will be lower. For high power pulses thisvoltage drop can be very significant.
See Capacitors and Supercapacitors.
6. Reformation/Reconditioning
As noted above some cells suffering capacity loss can be restoredby repeating the formation process thus extending their life. SeeReformation/Reconditioning
7. Demand Management
The "effective" life of a battery in a particular application canalso be extended by controlling the load which the applicationplaces on the battery. This does not actually improve the batteryperformance, instead it reduces the load that the battery has tosupply. See Demand Management
8. Premature Death (Murder)
The most likely cause of premature failure of a battery is abuse,subjecting a battery to conditions for which it was neverdesigned.
Apart from obvious physical abuse, the following examples shouldalso be considered abuse, whether deliberate, inadvertent orthrough poor maintenance disciplines.
Drawing more current than the battery was designed for or shortcircuiting the battery.
Using undersized batteries for the application.
Circuit or system designs which subject the battery to repeated"coup de fouet" (whiplash) effects. This effect is a temporary,severe voltage drop which occurs when a heavy load is suddenlyplaced on the battery and is caused by the inability of the rate ofthe chemical action in the battery to accommodate the instantaneousdemand for current.
Operating or storing the battery in too high or too low ambienttemperatures.
Using chargers designed for charging batteries with a differentcell chemistry.
Overcharging - either to too high a voltage or for too long aperiod.
Over-discharging - allowing the battery to become completelydischarged.
In aqueous batteries - allowing electrolyte level to fall below therecommended minimum.
In aqueous batteries - topping up with tap water instead ofdistilled water (or inappropriate electrolyte).
Subjecting the battery to excessive vibration or shock.
Battery designers try to design out the possibility of abusewherever possible but ultimately the life of the battery is in theuser's hands.