Aircraft Batteries – Types of Batteries (Part Two)

in Aircraft Electrical System

Capacity

Capacity is measured quantitatively in ampere-hours delivered at a specified discharge rate to a specified cut-off voltage at room temperature. The cut-off voltage is 1.0 volt per cell. Battery available capacity depends upon several factors including such items as:


  1. Cell design (cell geometry, plate thickness, hardware, and terminal design govern performance under specific usage conditions of temperature, discharge rate, etc.).
  2. Discharge rate (high current rates yield less capacity than low rates).
  3. Temperature (capacity and voltage levels decrease as battery temperature moves away from the 60 °F (16 °C) to 90 °F (32 °C) range toward the high and low extremes).
  4. Charge rate (higher charge rates generally yield greater capacity).

Aircraft Battery Ratings by Specification

The one-hour rate is the rate of discharge a battery can endure for 1 hour with the battery voltage at or above 1.67 volts per cell, or 20 volts for a 24-volt lead-acid battery, or 10 volts for a 12-volt lead-acid battery. The one-hour capacity, measured in ampere hours (Ah), is the product of the discharge rate and time (in hours) to the specified end voltage.

The emergency rate is the total essential load, measured in amperes, required to support the essential bus for 30 minutes. This is the rate of discharge a battery can endure for 30 minutes with the battery voltage at or above 1.67 volts per cell, or 20 volts for a 24 volt lead-acid battery, or 10 volts for a 12 volt lead-acid battery.

Storing and Servicing Facilities

Separate facilities for storing and/or servicing flooded electrolyte lead-acid and NiCd batteries must be maintained. Introduction of acid electrolyte into alkaline electrolyte causes permanent damage to vented (flooded electrolyte) NiCd batteries and vice versa. However, batteries that are sealed can be charged and capacity checked in the same area. Because the electrolyte in a valve-regulated lead-acid battery is absorbed in the separators and porous plates, it cannot contaminate a NiCd battery even when they are serviced in the same area.

WARNING: It is extremely dangerous to store or service lead-acid and NiCd batteries in the same area. Introduction of acid electrolytes into alkaline electrolyte destroys the NiCd, and vice versa.

Battery Freezing

Discharged lead-acid batteries exposed to cold temperatures are subject to plate damage due to freezing of the electrolyte. To prevent freezing damage, maintain each cell’s specific gravity at 1.275 or, for sealed lead-acid batteries, check open circuit voltage. [Figure 9-36] NiCd battery electrolyte is not as susceptible to freezing because no appreciable chemical change takes place between the charged and discharged states. However, the electrolyte freezes at approximately –75 °F.

Figure 9-36. Lead-acid battery electrolyte freezing points.

Figure 9-36. Lead-acid battery electrolyte freezing points.

NOTE: Only a load check determines overall battery condition.

Temperature Correction

U.S.-manufactured lead-acid batteries are considered fully charged when the specific gravity reading is between 1.275 and 1.300. A 1⁄3 discharged battery reads about 1.240 and a 2⁄3 discharged battery shows a specific gravity reading of about 1.200 when tested by a hydrometer at an electrolyte temperature of 80 °F. However, to determine precise specific gravity readings, a temperature correction should be applied to the hydrometer indication. [Figure 9-37] As an example, for a hydrometer reading of 1.260 and electrolyte temperature of 40 °F, the corrected specific gravity reading of the electrolyte is 1.244.

Figure 9-37. Sulfuric acid temperature correction.

Figure 9-37. Sulfuric acid temperature correction.