Initial Results of Pulse Conditioning

A project log for Internal Resistance of Lead Acid Batteries

A project to automate the measurement of internal resistance for lead acid batteries to determine if pulse conditioning is of any benefit.

richardrichard 10/05/2017 at 02:570 Comments

It's been about 4 weeks now and some observations of the impact pulse conditioning has had on internal resistance and perhaps battery capacity are warranted. More importantly, the need for a more rigorous approach has become apparent.

Over this time the measured internal resistance has fallen from 264 milli-ohms to 175 milli-ohms. While the reduction in the internal resistance tapered off after about 10 days, there is some support for the battery's capacity having increased as well. At the start I was recharging the battery after 3 days on the pulse conditioner. Now it runs for 5 to 6 days before I have to recharge the battery.

So my initial observations are that the pulse conditioner is beneficial. However, there are several issues with the approach and the results cannot be construed as anything other than weak support for pulse conditioners. 

The biggest drawback to the approach is the lack of a control battery. With a second battery I could cycle one on the pulse conditioner whilst the other was cycled on a static load. If the static load battery showed little, or no improvement, in internal resistance then there would be much stronger support for the pulse conditioning approach.

Another drawback stems from the lack of automation. I still have to manually changeover the battery at each step of the pulse, charge, measure cycle. So the time between measurements is not constant and the level of charge and discharge varies from one cycle to the next. I clearly need to automate the cycle and let it run unattended. 

The final obvious shortcoming is temperature. We are moving towards summer and the average ambient temperatures have increased over the last month. The temperature change could be influencing the results either directly via battery chemistry somehow, or indirectly by it's impact on the voltage regulator which serves at the voltage reference for hte D2A conversion. A temperature controlled testing environment would be useful to remove another source of potential error but that is beyond my reach at present.

The biggest obstacle to the full automation with the W1209 board is the need for an additional two digital outputs. I have considered two approaches. The first is using the + and - keys as both inputs and outputs. That would require some careful soldering to insert a resistor, say 2k, in series with each switch. The second approach is a 4017 counter clocked by the pin driving the relay. Then each of the decoded outputs for 1-3 from the 4017 driving a relay to perform each step of the pulse charge measure cycle.

I'm leaning towards the first approach since I don't know if I have a 4017 in the drawer and the first approach avoids any ambiguity over which step the cycle is in.