Indiana may once again be at the forefront of the next generation of auto innovation. The state government has finalized plans for the Indiana Energy Systems Network. Among the directives for this coalition is action to stimulate the manufacture of batteries for hybrid cars. According to industry experts, some of the best minds for battery development are in Indiana.
It’s a legacy that began with the Munson Company of LaPorte, Indiana. The company is recognized as the first to build a gasoline-electric car in America in 1896.
This electric machine automatically operated as either a generator or a motor, according to the speed of the engine. The driver started the Munson vehicle by moving a controller lever located in front of the driver. This sent current from the storage battery to the electric machine, which then acted as a motor and started the gasoline engine. When the engine came up to speed, current was reversed through the machine. The motor then became the generator, sending charging current back to the storage battery.
The Munson electrical starter was used about 16 years before other manufacturers widely employed the idea. Most of the contemporary cars were hand-cranked.
Munson touted that 10 gallons of gasoline would power the car 100 miles or more over ordinary, well-traveled roads at about five to 15 miles per hour. This was an enormous improvement over the range of standard electric automobiles of the day, which traveled about 30 to 40 miles per charge.
In a 1896 Munson brochure, the company touted its vehicles’ benefits over the current modes of automotive vehicles:
o The Munson vehicles combined the good points of both the gasoline engine and electric motor.
o No manual starting apparatus was required.
o The electric motor automatically supplied the extra power required when the engine was taxed beyond its normal speed and acted as a speed controller when descending hills.
o The required storage battery was 50 percent lighter. Plus, the Munson battery would outlast batteries used in the electric autos of the time.
The brochure also showed three different vehicles for sale:
o A single-seat buggy with seven horsepower
o A two-seat passenger vehicle with 12 horsepower
o A delivery wagon with 12 to 15 horsepower.
The Munson Company, however, found that it could not compete with companies that produced cars propelled by gasoline only. Gasoline was inexpensive at the time. Electric cars were also limited in traveling distance because of the capacity of the battery to hold its charge. Plus, the battery was extremely heavy.
The battery charge and weight issues are still the problems that engineers and designers are trying to rectify. Indiana professionals may once again lead the way for efficient and economical solutions.
Batteries are an essential part of a vehicle and should not be overlooked. Without a healthy battery, the car stands still. We are responsible for how long they can support our vehicle. To extend their lifespan, we need to properly maintain them. Maintenance free batteries are slowly taking over lead-acid batteries but it is important to understand that the basic principle remains the same. We will discuss all the important aspects of a battery in this article.
How does a battery work?
Lead acid car batteries are energy storing devices made up of lead and lead dioxide plates. These plates are submerged into an electrolyte solution. The percentage of water is 65% and sulphuric acid contributes 35% to this solution. When the battery is used to start the car, it gets discharged. The sulphuric acid in the electrolyte solution gets depleted leaving a higher proportion of water. The sulfate is returned to the acid during the charging process. The battery provides high current required by the starter motor to crank the engine of the car. Once the engine is started, the battery is again recharged by the engine driven charging system. In this process, the alternator takes necessary energy from the rotation of engine through a belt to charge up the battery. When the engine is running, the alternator generates electricity for the electrical equipment of the car.
What makes a battery weak?
When the car is exposed to direct sunlight in summers for longer periods of time, it accelerates the process of corrosion and evaporates the electrolyte. This reduces the life of a battery making it weaker. So, avoid getting your car heated by sunlight by parking in a suitable shade.
A battery must be fitted properly to avoid any sort of vibrations. These vibrations over the time shake the plates around which in turn make the internal connections lose. As a result, the battery would not get properly charged.
Once you start the car, make sure to drive it for enough time for the battery to get recharged again. The alternator takes time to recharge the battery after it has released its energy while starting the engine. Otherwise, the battery will stay undercharged which is not sufficient to provide high current to the starting motor.
Keeping the headlights or music system on while the engine is shut down drains the battery over the time. Avoid plugging in a charger for a longer period of times to prevent the battery from discharging.
Corrosion on battery terminals is as harmful to the battery as anything else. Always clean the battery terminals carefully once or twice in a month. Make sure to wear gloves and eye protection. The white powder on terminals is toxic and should not be allowed to come in contact with the skin.
Signs that indicate battery replacement:
There are a couple of signs that may indicate your battery is getting weak and needs a replacement.
- The bright headlights of the car become slightly dim when the engine is turned off.
- The starter motor turns slowly when you start the car due to the low current provided by the battery.
There are a few visual signs that indicate the battery needs a replacement.
- An internal short circuit or overcharging leads to a swollen battery. If you see signs of bulging anywhere around the battery, replace it.
- Examine the battery case carefully for any damage to the battery case.
How to start an engine with a weak battery?
It is not recommended to use a weak battery. However, in an emergency case, jumper cables can be used when you are stuck during your trip along the roadside. Always keep a set of jumper cables in your car if you think the battery is not in a supreme condition. Jumper cables let you jump start your vehicle with the help of another car. Although it is a very simple technique but safety measures must be taken to avoid any danger. Following steps will guide you to jump-start the vehicle:
- Make sure both batteries have the same voltage rating i.e. 12 V
- Turn off the ignition switch after parking it close enough to the other car in neutral position.
- Never jump a frozen battery. It can easily explode.
- Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses.
- Carefully identify and connect the positive terminals of both batteries to each other.
- Make sure the other end does not touch car’s body to avoid any dangerous spark.
- Clamp the negative cable to the negative terminal of the good battery.
- Connect the other end of the negative cable to a metal part of the car with a weak battery.
- Finally the start the car with the good battery.
- Give it 5-7 minutes to charge the weak battery.
- Now start the ignition of the car with a weak battery.
- Carefully remove the cables in reverse order. Remove the negative cables first followed by removing the positive cable from the car with the good battery. In the end, remove the positive cable from the car with a weak battery.
How to check battery’s health?
For proper maintenance of battery, schedule once a month to check the status of the battery. Nowadays there are tools that can help measure the present condition of the battery. Following are the most commonly used tools for this purpose: power source for a trolling motor
Battery load tester:
Battery load tester is used to check the voltage rating of the running battery. It has a display meter with voltage readings up to 16V along with the battery health indicator. It has positive and negative probes. Inside, there is a high current capacity coil which provides the necessary load with a toggle switch. Battery voltage can be tested easily by following these steps:
- Turn off the car engine.
- Connect the positive probe of load tester with the positive terminal of the battery.
- Similarly, connect the negative probe with the negative terminal.
- Make sure both probes are properly connected with the battery terminals.
- The meter will show a voltage reading in accordance with the health of the battery.
- Now, turn on the load toggle switch for 05-07 seconds to measure the battery voltage on load.
- A healthy battery ideally shows 12.5 volts.
- If the meter needle deflects anywhere near the “weak” indication, immediately replace the battery.
- Safely remove the probes in reverse order.