Sulphation in lead acid batteries is quite common and a big problem because the process completely hampers the efficiency of the battery. Charging a lead acid battery through PWM method is said to initiate desulfation, helping recover battery efficiency to some levels.
What is Sulphation in Lead Acid Batteries
Sulphation is a process where the sulfuric acid present inside lead acid batteries react with the plates overtime to form layers of white powder like substance over the plates.
This layer deposit seriously deteriorates the chemical actions inside the battery while charging or discharging making the battery inefficient with its power delivering capabilities.
Normally this happens when the battery is not being used for long periods and the charging, discharging processes are not done very frequently.
Unfortunately there's no effective way of tackling this problem, however it has been researched that the jammed sulphur deposits over an effected battery may be broken down to some extent by subjecting the battery to high current bursts while charging it.
These high current charging pulses should be well optimized through some control circuit and should be diagnosed carefully while implementing the process.
Implementing the method through PWM controlled circuit is probably the best way of doing it.
Here's an excerpt from wikipedia, which says,
" Desulfation is achieved by high current pulses produced between the terminals of the battery. This technique, also called pulse conditioning, breaks down the sulfate crystals that are formed on the battery plates. Short high current pulses tend to work best. Electronic circuits are used to regulate the pulses of different widths and frequency of high current pulses. These can also be used to automate the process since it takes a long period of time to desulfate a battery fully."
The circuit of a PWM battery charger discussed here can be considered as the best design for carrying out the above desulfation process.
How the Circuit Functions
The IC 555 is configured and used in its standard PWM control mode.
The output from the IC is appropriately amplified through a couple transistors so that it is able to deliver the said high current pulses to the battery which needs to be desulfated.
The PWM control may be set at low "mark" ratio for implementing a desulfation process.
Conversely if the circuit is intended to be used for charging normal batteries, the PWM control may be adjusted for generating pulses with equal mark/space ratios or as per the desired specs.
The controlling of the PWM will solely depend on an individuals personal preference, so should be done correctly as per the battery manufacturers instructions.
Failing to follow the correct procedures may lead to fatal accidents with the battery, due to a possible explosion of the battery.
An input current level equal to the battery AH level may be chosen initially, and reduced gradually if a positive response is detected from the battery.