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What is VRLA BATTERY? What does VRLA BATTERY mean? VRLA BATTERY meaning – VRLA BATTERY definition – VRLA BATTERY explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
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A VRLA battery stands for (valve-regulated lead-acid battery) more commonly known as a sealed lead-acid (SLA), gel cell, or maintenance free battery, is a type of lead-acid rechargeable battery. Due to their construction, the Gel and Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) types of VRLA can be mounted in any orientation, and do not require constant maintenance. The term “maintenance free” is a misnomer as VRLA batteries still require cleaning and regular functional testing. They are widely used in large portable electrical devices, off-grid power systems and similar roles, where large amounts of storage are needed at a lower cost than other low-maintenance technologies like lithium-ion.
There are three primary types of VRLA batteries, Sealed VR wet cell, AGM and Gel. Gel cells add silica dust to the electrolyte, forming a thick putty-like gel. These are sometimes referred to as “silicone batteries”. AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries feature fiberglass mesh between the battery plates which serves to contain the electrolyte. Both designs offer advantages and disadvantages compared to conventional batteries and sealed VR wet cells, as well as each other.
Lead-acid cells consist of two plates of lead, which serve as electrodes, suspended in diluted sulfuric acid, which is then the electrolyte. In conventional lead-acid cells, the diluted acid is in liquid form, hence the term “flooded” or “wet” cells. VRLA cells have essentially the same lead-acid chemistry, but the AGM and Gel types have the diluted acid electrolyte solution immobilized, either by soaking a fiberglass mat in it (hence: glass-mat batteries), or by turning the liquid into a paste-like gel by the addition of silica and other gelling agents (hence: gel batteries). The wet cell type contains acid in the liquid form similarly to the flooded lead acid batteries, just the wet cell VRLA battery case is better sealed.
When a cell discharges, the lead and diluted acid undergo a chemical reaction that produces lead sulfate and water (see lead–acid battery for details of the chemical reaction). When a cell is subsequently charged, the lead sulfate and water are turned back into lead and acid. In all lead-acid battery designs, charge current must be adjusted to match the ability of the battery to absorb the energy. If the charging current is too great, some of it will be wasted decomposing water into hydrogen and oxygen, in addition to the intended conversion of lead sulfate and water into lead dioxide, lead, and sulfuric acid which reverses the discharge process. If these gases are allowed to escape, as in a conventional flooded cell, the battery may need to be topped up with water from time to time. In contrast, in VRLA batteries the gases are retained within the battery as long as the pressure remains within safe levels. Under normal operating conditions the gases can then recombine within the battery itself, sometimes with the help of a catalyst, and no topping-up is needed. However, if the pressure exceeds safety limits, safety valves open to allow the excess gases to escape, and in doing so regulate the pressure back to safe levels (hence “valve-regulated” in “VRLA”).
In flooded lead-acid batteries, the liquid electrolyte is a hazard during shipping and makes them unsuitable for many portable applications. Furthermore, the need to maintain water levels makes them unsuitable for maintenance-free applications. The immobilized electrolyte in VRLA batteries (AGM and Gel types) addresses these problems. At the same time, since VRLA cells can’t be “topped off” with water, any hydrogen lost during outgassing can’t easily be replaced…..
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