The Boating Forum - What really causes a battery to explode?

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kerno
10-26-2008, 01:12 PM
I the aftermath of another battery explosion this weekend. In the first case, the battery was on the charger when it blew up. It was an ordinary lead acid and it blew into enough pieces to say the hydrogen inside the battery was ignited and blew the case to bits. There, the charger may have overheated it and boiled it dry and an arc may have occurred between the plates to ignite it.

This weekend's case was different. This battery was in a golf cart which been charged over night and then driven about a mile to the launch ramp. The driver stopped and when he started out, one of the 6 batteries in the cart blew up. It was an sealed AGM battery, so there should not have been a gas accumulation problem.

I really don't want that to happen in my console..................

So, does anyone know why they explode? We've all seen the warnings on jumper cables, but some sort of arcing must take place to fire of the hydrogen.


bigjimmie
10-26-2008, 01:23 PM
loose cable(s) cause higher amp draws and sparks

OReely
10-26-2008, 02:16 PM
I have read that too high a discharge rate can cause a battery to explode. I don't know how accurate this is but it was in a magazine, not internet.


makosteve66
10-26-2008, 03:58 PM
first I have heard of an AGM exploding. That is one the "safety bonuses" they offer. The do not even need to be mounted flat - any way except inverted OK. They supposedly have no gases. Very strange

250 Osprey
10-26-2008, 05:11 PM
I would guess that one or more plates came loose inside the case and fell against each other. Direct short to the nth! Gasses or no gasses, with the kind of amperage that flows through a 12V battery, that may have been the cause. Now if that was the case, and your head was just above the battery when it happened, what kind of warranty claim would you have? Or would you own the battery company?

Joe
10-26-2008, 05:29 PM
Years ago I had a car's battery explode when I went to crank it in the morning. It wasn't extremely cold out. Battery blew a 4 inch circle out of the side of the case.

kerno
10-26-2008, 06:25 PM
I agree about the AGM's. This battery failed under a high load.

I agree about loose cables being a potential problem, but not in this case. The cables were tight and the terminals were still attached to the cables. They were on with lock nuts, not wing nuts and they were tight.

potty dock
10-26-2008, 06:37 PM
kerno - 10/26/2008 4:12 PM

I the aftermath of another battery explosion this weekend. In the first case, the battery was on the charger when it blew up. It was an ordinary lead acid and it blew into enough pieces to say the hydrogen inside the battery was ignited and blew the case to bits. There, the charger may have overheated it and boiled it dry and an arc may have occurred between the plates to ignite it.

This weekend's case was different. This battery was in a golf cart which been charged over night and then driven about a mile to the launch ramp. The driver stopped and when he started out, one of the 6 batteries in the cart blew up. It was an sealed AGM battery, so there should not have been a gas accumulation problem.

I really don't want that to happen in my console..................

So, does anyone know why they explode? We've all seen the warnings on jumper cables, but some sort of arcing must take place to fire of the hydrogen.



It happens more often that people think , All It takes is a short in the plates. With the hydrogen that is generated, sometimes it can be quite violent! Usually happens while battery is being charged rapidly, or, most often being jumped off with a vehicle running!

Not an electrical engineer, But I did stay in a Holliday Inn Express last night!

jimbob jones
10-26-2008, 06:42 PM
More than likely a short either in the golf cart or the battery its self

FishnDive
10-26-2008, 06:45 PM
I bought a used RV off a cuban guy and the battery was discharged. They didn't have jumper cables, no problemo. One of the guys grabs a lead acid battery, tells me to get ready to crank, and then flips the battery on to the posts of the RV amid a shower of sparks-crank it, criank it- and it fired right up. Talk about doing everything wrong, but hey, it worked.

makosteve66
10-26-2008, 06:58 PM
FishnDive - 10/26/2008 9:45 PM

I bought a used RV off a cuban guy and the battery was discharged. They didn't have jumper cables, no problemo. One of the guys grabs a lead acid battery, tells me to get ready to crank, and then flips the battery on to the posts of the RV amid a shower of sparks-crank it, criank it- and it fired right up. Talk about doing everything wrong, but hey, it worked.

:o :o :o :o :o

I have been on boats since I am 2. I have run some commercially. I have also had cars since I was 16. I have never had a battery explode, reading this post, it sounds like I have just been lucky. I honestly never heard of an AGM exploding, but the scenario about a plate coming looses makes sense. I recently had a disagreement with a neighbor that was jump starting another's car. I grounded the cable on the dead car's engine, and this man went crazy. He was a lunatic about how it is supposed to go to the post. I said that was how batteries explode and I actually looked up web sites about proper jump starting on the web and gave the guy 10 articles that all state to ground to the engine - not the battery - and the reason all of the sites gave was explosion risk due to the battery having a possible cracked case and the gas escaping. There was absolutely no other reason mentioned that would cause an explosion. 2 of the articles state that this is not a risk with AGMs

250 Osprey
10-26-2008, 07:15 PM
Steve,
We were coming back into Crystal River from a seatrial of a 35. Got into the no wake zone, and I decided to open the bilge hatch to see if there was any water intrusion. The starboard motor battery was hanging from the cables and SMOKING! Amperage and heat! Put a towel over it, disconnected the cables with my Leatherman, heart pounding every minute, and that battery became a little tiny reef. Over the side she went. I'll face a fine any day over injury or potential loss of life. Luckily, no Marine Patrol or Coasties in the area at the time.

I'll never forget it. And just because I had some curiosity.

makosteve66
10-26-2008, 07:32 PM
Oh, I never doubted it, but just have never experienced it. I have experienced just about everything else that can go wrong. I have struck a just submerged telephone pole that ripped all the running gear off a 27 Phoenix. - Stuffed rags into the shaft openings and was towed in. and my Brother was airlifted off a dragger 80 miles offshore after getting his fingers amputated in the net reel. Just have never had a battery explode, and I spoke to him just before and he has not either.

Alec Thigpen
10-26-2008, 08:37 PM
Hydrogen builds up in a closed battery and a spark is all it takes. If you open the caps before charging, it won't do that because the gas is light and will escape easily and quickly. I had one explode in a car just from starting it up. It dented the hood from the force. I had driven it for a few miles, stopped for a few minutes and then restarted it. The water was low, the battery charge was low, and there was plenty of hydrogen build up room from the low water level and with the first few miles of driving to charge it up and generate the hydrogen.

jxg
10-27-2008, 05:30 AM
had it happen in my wife's Volvo when the car was 2 months old. I turned the key, and the battery exploded. thought i was being shot at (the car was in the garage in our house in West Palm Beach, you never know, :-) ). Volvo dealer said it was probably a short inside the battery, they see it every so often.

north coast
10-27-2008, 06:20 AM
Years ago, while putting a pair of jumpers on,I got a spark and BOOM. the battery blew up in my face. I was covered with acid. (luckily not in my eyes) ran into the shower,clothes and all. scared the livin' crap out of me,but No ill effects. LUCKY. it definately happens. be carefull.

charlie d
12-05-2008, 08:12 AM
i was a mech for 40 yrs, had hundred of batt blow up, usually a spark iginates gas. ive had batt in dozers and heavy equip blow up when hitting starter butt in morning most times batts were gassing, and had that one spark frow loose post. had aircraft batt blow up in my face, was overcharging.. i have itsent a few people to hospital with eye damage.had batt short out internal, get so hot scared to unhook cables and move. a lot of older batt gas worst with age, just needs 1 sspark

kchace
12-05-2008, 09:12 AM
Had one in my sister's car blow up on me as I was tightening the terminals after the battery had just been charging. I hit something with the wrench and the spark must have gotten to some hydrogen that was venting - boom right in my face. Fortunately it went out the side not towards me.

I'd hate to think of what would happen if one blew in a small boat where the battery is right near the tank and fuel lines.

Ken

Moby1
12-05-2008, 08:51 PM
north coast - 10/27/2008 9:20 AM

Years ago, while putting a pair of jumpers on,I got a spark and BOOM. the battery blew up in my face. I was covered with acid. (luckily not in my eyes) ran into the shower,clothes and all. scared the living' crap out of me,but No ill effects. LUCKY. it definitely happens. be carefull.

I had the same thing happen to me!! First thing I did was check to see if I had all my fingers the ran to the dock and opened the water hydrant and jumped in. The problem was it was in the northeast and it was November!! Ever since then I have a real problem jumping batteries!

ScarabChris
12-05-2008, 09:06 PM
Back in the early 90s a friend of mine had a fairly new Honda Prelude. We were hanging out in my front yard one day and we heard what sounded like a large caliber gun shot, we all hit the deck. We got up and started looking around, we found that the hood of my friends Honda had a huge bubble in the front corner. The entire hood was deformed, it was a pain to get the hood open but when we did we saw the battery in pieces.

We were blown away, the car was running perfect and sitting in my driveway for about 45 mins and was completely off with nothing on when this happened.

Aside from a destroyed hood and battery the car was fine. We dropped a new battery in and the car was fine ever sinse. The cost of a new hood was the biggest loss.

debugger
12-06-2008, 05:58 AM
ScarabChris - 12/6/2008 12:06 AM

Back in the early 90s a friend of mine had a fairly new Honda Prelude. We were hanging out in my front yard one day and we heard what sounded like a large caliber gun shot, we all hit the deck. We got up and started looking around, we found that the hood of my friends Honda had a huge bubble in the front corner. The entire hood was deformed, it was a pain to get the hood open but when we did we saw the battery in pieces.

We were blown away, the car was running perfect and sitting in my driveway for about 45 mins and was completely off with nothing on when this happened.

Aside from a destroyed hood and battery the car was fine. We dropped a new battery in and the car was fine ever sinse. The cost of a new hood was the biggest loss.

That's some scary stuff. Never had one go but I always wear safety goggles when working around them. I new a mechanic once who had some funky looking bleached skin on his face and arms from battery acid.

deepwaters
12-06-2008, 07:16 AM
A battery exploding isn't a everyday thing but it can happen. The sealed deep cycle batteries don't usually gas much so there's not much chance of explosions. Regular lead acid batteries generate gas when charging and discharging. If you look at the removable caps on batteries you will see a very small vent hole. This will prevent external sparks/flames from reaching the inside of the battery due to a non direct path in the cap but allow gassing .

If there is enough oxygen in the battery to mix with the hydrogen generated it can explode due to arcing between plates or a faulty connection of a plate to the buss bar that connects them together internally.

I have been lucky in experiencing two explosions. One I was looking at the battery while it was charging and the top blew off . Fortunately there was a water hose next to me. My eyes were slightly foggy for two days.

When you are connecting a jumper cable to a battery be sure to make the last connection of the cable at the end away from the battery. That way you won't generate sparks near the battery.

When doing heavy charging removing the caps will allow gassing to escape and also result in no more than a little poof if the gas does ignight as there isn't a possibility for pressure to build up in the cell if it does ignite. This is my personal opinion from experience so take it for what it's worth.

242AB
12-06-2008, 07:28 AM
Kerno- Here's an article that talks specifically about boats and what to do to help prevent an explosion.

http://amplepower.com/primer/explode/index.html

offshore34
12-07-2008, 03:57 PM
I had a large generator battery blow up on a boat I use to work on when I hit the generator start switch. I was about 4 feet away got knocked back between the main engines, I managed to get out of the engine room before it filled with smoke/gas. I was lucky no acid landed on me but I did have a piece of battery (the plastic housing) about a one inch square stick into my left forearm from the explosion. The battery blew up into about 30 pieces, a fellow captain a couple hundred yards away said it sounded like a cannon and rattled all his wheelhouse windows. I had a headache for the rest of the day lucky no hearing damage from the noise, being in a relatively small engine room. This was on a 55' aluminum work boat and it was a large battery the size of three car batteries I cant remember the specific size.

kiterider
02-24-2010, 01:04 PM
Hi, I read these notes on exploding batteries with interest, as I had an incident with my car. Maybe someone has more advice? Yesterday, shortly after the car came back from a suspension repair, the battery exploded the moment I turned the key to ignition. It was a moderate bang, however bits and pieces of battery casing were still stuck in the hood lining, and the acid leaking from the battery. I took the battery out, flushed away the acid with water and left the car parking in the street. Looking through the Internet I found that the explosion was due to hydrogon build-up in the battery, which in turn could be because it was being overcharged.

So, had to buy that new battery (just after paying for the suspension repair hmm). Then I took it to the garage, to check the voltage. When idling, It came out as 14,4V, and the repairman said it was too high, it should be 13,8V. We did not check it while reving the engine. He said that the voltage regulator is faulty. So now, is it going to be more repairs? I don't want to blow up another battery, though I wonder what the voltage tolerance is, and whether the only reason for the battery to blow up was because of the 14,4V idling charge? I came across different infos on tolerance for idling charging voltage, some 14,2, another 14,5 andf another 15V? Anyone who could give some advice? Would appreciate it. Cheers Florian

kiterider
02-24-2010, 02:57 PM
for anyone interested in appropriate battery charging voltages:
(and which has broadened my horizon with regards to the above query)

http://landiss.com/battery.htm

quite a bit of research. thanks Dan Landiss



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