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Old 10-26-2008, 01:12 PM   #1
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Default What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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Old 10-26-2008, 01:23 PM   #2
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Default RE: What really causes a battery to explode?

loose cable(s) cause higher amp draws and sparks
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Old 10-26-2008, 02:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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Old 10-26-2008, 03:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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
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Old 10-26-2008, 05:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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?
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Old 10-26-2008, 05:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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Old 10-26-2008, 06:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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Old 10-26-2008, 06:37 PM   #8
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Default RE: What really causes a battery to explode?

Quote:
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!
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Old 10-26-2008, 06:42 PM   #9
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

More than likely a short either in the golf cart or the battery its self
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Old 10-26-2008, 06:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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Old 10-26-2008, 06:58 PM   #11
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

Quote:
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.


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
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Old 10-26-2008, 07:15 PM   #12
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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Old 10-26-2008, 07:32 PM   #13
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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Old 10-26-2008, 08:37 PM   #14
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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Old 10-27-2008, 05:30 AM   #15
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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Old 10-27-2008, 06:20 AM   #16
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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Old 12-05-2008, 08:12 AM   #17
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:12 AM   #18
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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
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Old 12-05-2008, 08:51 PM   #19
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

Quote:
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!
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:06 PM   #20
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Default Re: What really causes a battery to explode?

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.
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