Using Polymers To Replace Absorption Glass Mats

644 words - 3 pages

This report outlines the evaluation for replacing an absorption glass mat (AGM) with a polymer mat to be used in a valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) battery. AGMs are expensive and exhibit low tensile strength, so polymers were investigated to both decrease cost and improve the properties of the mat. Initially the important properties of the mat were assumed to be chemical inertness in aqueous acid, stability towards oxidation and heat, wettability and contact angle, porosity, and tensile strength. The processes of making the various polymers were then considered to determine any additional complexities that could arise during manufacturing. The best material was found to be a hydrophobic polymer exhibiting the physical properties of the AGM, but containing a hydrophilic material to induce wettability. Through this analysis the final recommendation is to replace the AGM with a composite polymer mat composing of 95% polypropylene (PP) and 5% polytetrahydrofuran (PTHF) which has a cost of $1.3/lb of polymer composite and an annual profit upper bound (PUB) of $2,000,000. This is based on the upper bound price difference between an annual production of 1.75 MMm2 of the AGM and the costs of the raw materials for the polypropylene composite mat.
Polystyrene, polyamides, polyesters, and polyolefins (polypropylene, polyethylene, etc.), typical polymers considered for mats in recombinant VRLA batteries, were researched. They have been shown to have submicron diameters and are resistant to strong acids - both important properties for the mat within a VRLA battery. Polyamides were ruled out because they showed the least resistance to strong acids and polyimides cannot easily be made wettable. Polypropylene (PP) was chosen over polyethylene because of its higher thermal stability. Because polypropylene was determined to have superior physical and chemical properties, only the PUB for a polypropylene mat was considered.
It is important for the mat to be wettable by acid as it must be able to absorb...

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