OT: Battery explosion

This is OT, but the expertise in this group is amazing & I need some help understanding why I had a battery explode. I'm guessing I may have
put too much load on the battery in too short a time -- and too much internal pressure built up. But I'm not sure - and I know I don't want to repeat what happened today.
This happened with my 28 hp compact diesel tractor. Ran out of diesel and got a lot of air in the fuel lines. I had been cranking the engine more than would be normal because the engine would start, run a few moments then starve for fuel. I'm guessing I had cranked the engine for maybe 15 seconds at time. I wasn't paying a lot of attention - I probably had cranked the engine that way at least six times (maybe more), and was loosening the fuel lines at the injectors trying to bleed more of the air -- when BLAM! It was major -- most of the top of the case & parts of the sides of the battery were blown off with enough force to dent the air cleaner that's about a foot above the battery.
I'm well aware that sparks can easily set off a hydrogen explosion; but I don't think there were any sparks.
Could cranking the engine that much create enough pressure to cause the battery to blow up? Would a lot of cranking cause the battery to overheat & explode? This was a New Holland 12V lead-acid batery, barely a year old. I had noticed that the caps did not seem to vent pressure well; but never thought it would just blow like it did.
Is there any other sort of malfunction that could cause a battery to blow?
Thanks for any insight.
Bill
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.

rapid discharge will cause gas production faster than the vents can let it out - the one time a battery exploded on me, I was jumpering a 6V car from a 12V car (and if I remember right, reversed the leads by accident because the 6V car was pos ground) - so, yes the cranking could be the cause - but that said, it should be within the battery's capacity to support its specified cranking load without damage, so this suggests that either the vents were plugged up, or defective
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Bill writes:

Of course you can get sparks inside a battery from the plates. And I would expect cranking to be just the sort of heavy load to cause that.
The way modern automotive batteries are constructed, the vents should not pass fire from an external spark or flame into inside the battery, anyway. But hydrogen fuel-air explosions definitely occur, and not that uncommonly, so one would expect that the ignition source is inside the battery case.
I'm always amazed to watch guys jump-starting cars, squinting at the battery with their unprotected face inches away. Not something you do once you've seen this type of explosion.
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I had a car battery explode on me while I was working on my car. Engine was running, I wasn't doing anything near the battery. Just a bang, garage door blown off track when the top of battery did the bank shot off of the hood, my coat covered with acid and the feeling I just dodged a bullet.
I don't remember seriously depleting the battery or any thing that would have evolved a lot of gas.
Wes -- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
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Happened to my friend while he was driving on a city street. Karl
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An internal arc combined with low fluid?
I had a battery on a Honda mini-trail bike explode years ago while zooming down a long hill.
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On Sun, 2 Nov 2008 04:19:30 -0800, Bob F wrote:

Thanks, everyone who responded.
Richard/Bob, I think you guys probably have the cause diagnosed. Googling on the subject gave references to this type of internal expoision: the combination of load (cranking/starting the engine), low electrolyte leading to conditions likely to cause an internal arc... and the inevitable explosion.
This was a satandard battery with the screw caps. In retrospect, the caps were not venting properly from day one... there was often wetness aroung the (tight) caps during the summer & it's probalby safe to conclude the electrolyte was low - internal pressure escaping via the threads. I don't recall seeing bulging, but it may have been -- I wasn't alert like I ought to have been. I should have returned the battery for exchange. I was stupid & damn lucky that I got away with such a cheap education this time.
Bill
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I should have returned the

One important followup - if this ever happens to you or anyone near you
1. immediately pour water over the person - wash off any possible acid - if you act quickly there is no damage. Follow up with baking soda wash
2. clothes will disintegrate about 4 days later - be prepared to discard
3. rinse equipment "soon" to wash away battery acid residue.

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On Sun, 2 Nov 2008 09:00:39 -0800, Bill Noble wrote:

Good advice. Even though there was no obvious droplets of acid on me; I knew there *had* to be acid spray on my skin & clothes. I immediatley went to the house, stripped my jeans/shoes/shirt outside & jumpped in the shower. A short time later, I hosed the tractor down, & removed what was left of the battery -then rinssed it a lot more.
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When I had my battery blow up, my glasses saved my eyes, my expensive snowmobile suit went into mom's washer with a box of arm and hammer, and the car got a wash down.
The nylon material had a bunch of white streaks but held up. Guess the washer and arm and hammer helped.
Wes -- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
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What's that Lassie? You say that Bill Noble fell down the old rec.crafts.metalworking mine and will die if we don't mount a rescue by Sun, 2 Nov 2008 09:00:39 -0800:

I'd like to add that special attention needs to be paid to the eyes and mouth. "Wet" tissue will be affected quicker and more severely. Start with gentle flow from a hose to first flush off any large amount of acid and debris, then flush the eyes(and mouth if needed) for a long time. Time is of the essence with the eyes. Use force with a reluctant victim if necessary.
I should be blind in one eye. I got hot LYE in one of my eyes. But I was lucky to be near a hose, and could still see with my other eye to get to it. Took me about three seconds to start flushing. Seamed like hours. Stayed there for at least 10 min.

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I can't see a battery exploding from pressure buildup at discharge. A L-A battery creates H gas while charging, not discharging.
Batteries DO blow up when being jump-started for several reasons. First, a spark midst H being vented by the recharging battery. [That's why you always *disconnect* the first cable back at the jumping, not jumped, car..]
The second reason is if the battery is dry/frozen. If frozen, you're boiling the water/acid under the ice. If totally dry, the internal resistance is likely very high and nothing bad happens. But if almost dry, the remaining water/acid may boil....
I suspect the OP's battery had a bad intercell connector. The high heat from repeated cranking could have boiled that cell.
If you saved the pieces, tell the seller and the CPSC; it wouldn't be the first time there was a safety issue found in the field.
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In 45 years I have NEVER heard of a battery exploding due to outgassing pressure. There is ALWAYS a spark - either internal or external. I've seen cases bulge (old rubber case tartops) from plugged vents, but never an explosion.

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I can't specifically help you with the exploding battery, but is there a hand operable priming pump on the injector pump? The diesel generator we had on the grocery store had one. If we ran it out of fuel it would take about 5 minutes of continuous pumping by hand to get it all primed again.

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On Sun, 2 Nov 2008 12:45:39 -0700, Bob La Londe wrote:

There are bleed screws for clearing the lines to the injector pump & the pump itself. They work quick & easy. Unfortunately there isn't as convenient a way to purge the lines between the injector pump and injectors. The manual says to bleed those lines by loosening the connections at the injector one at a time -- and then crank the engine (30 continuous seconds max, before letting the starter cool -- or the starter can burn out)
Bill
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No comments on your battery explosion, this topic was covered about a month ago. This is a suggestion I use to remove air from the lines. Instead of using the pump, I get a length of heater hose, wrap a cloth/plastic bag or what ever around the end and insert it tightly into the filler of the fuel tank. Blow air into the tank with lung power or if you wish an air compressor (carefully) until diesel starts coming out of the bleed screw. Tighten the bleed screw, hit the key, the engine will start in short order with little trouble. I've used this technique on both my truck and tractors. Never failed. Rick
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Bill wrote:

I've treated car batteries with great respect ever since I blew up a 6 volt car battery about 55 years ago.
I couldn't get one of the clamp-on cable terminals off because some AH before me has rounded off the nut on it, so I attacked it with a hacksaw.
Things were going fine, but I didn't pay attention to where the front end of the saw was wandering and the that end of the hacksaw blade dug into the other battery termnal and "stuck" there.
I watched transfixed as the blade began to smoke and then got red hot, followed shortly by the top of one of the three cells blowing off.
No harm to me, thanks to those angels who usually (but not always) look after teen-aged gearheads, but I had to spring for a new battery in addition to a cable terminal.
Jeff Jeffry Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE) The speed of light is 1.98*10^14 fathoms per fortnight.
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Bill wrote:

I had a car battery blow up in my face once, lucky I had glasses on. My girlfriends car went completly dead and she called me to look at it. I opened the hood ( the car door was open and it was nighttime) and touched the battery. I saw the dome light come on at the same time the battery exploded. The car was at the community center where they had a swimming pool so I dropped my wallet and jumped in to wash of the acid. It had to be an internal connection in the battery that caused the explosion since the battery terminal was on tight. I gained a healthy rerspect for batteries. The battery building up pressure is not a problem other than poping the caps off if the vent hole is clogged.
John
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john wrote:

Merely a case of a bad "Pinch weld" on an inter cell connector--dirty leadd pinch weld = let go under heavy load...jerry
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No one will know for sure what happened to cause this situation, but I seriously doubt that it was from pressure created by discharging the battery.
I believe it is far more likely that an internal mechanical connection failed, causing a spark in the vicinity of the hydrogen gas.
From as far back as my interest in cars goes, it was commonly known to replace a battery that displayed any signs of damage or defect, as in had suffered a mechanical shock (car wreck, dropped or similar), or any lead acid battery with a loose terminal. When loose terminals were discovered, it would mean that the connecting bar would be subjected to movement/vibration and would most likely end up breaking or shorting to a plate of opposite polarity.
The battery terminals are generally molded into the battery cases now so a battery would need to be severely abused in order to have a loose terminal now, so loose terminals are fairly uncommon.
If an internal connecting bar develops a break, there will almost certainly be sparks.
Weak internal connections could be a result of manufacturing defect or improper handling/use before or after the battery purchase.
I'm surprised that I haven't witnessed a battery explosion, considering the number of senseless idiots that I've seen pounding on battery terminals to secure or remove cable clamps.
WB ......... metalworking projects www.kwagmire.com/metal_proj.html

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