EDTA - Why, How, What, Where?

Most of this mess was rescued from the bit bucket by:
tom coradeschi <+> tcora@pica.army.mil <+> DoD#413
Disco Still Sucks
(Coincidentally, Tom's DoD # is one after mine. Go figure...)

From: dab@vuse.vanderbilt.edu (The Nashville Flash)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ (That address is WAAAAY no longer valid.)
Newsgroups: rec.motorcycles
Subject: Prolong the Life of a Lead-Acid Battery
Summary: Better Living Through Chemistry
Keywords: cheapskate
Date: 19 May 92 14:10:45 GMT
Organization: Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, Nashville, TN, USA

>From an article that has appeared twice now in the Vintage BMW Bulletin...

You can prolong the life of batteries by an additive that prevents sulfation. Supposed to be particularly good for batteries subjected to infrequent use, short trips, or inefficient charging system. Once-only treatment lasts for the life of the rejuvenated battery.

Obtain some EDTA (tetrasodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate or simply tetrasodium EDTA) from a chemical or lab supply place. This is a chelating agent and (I THINK) used on folks that are going to get an MRI scan. Four (4) grams are divided into approximately equal portions and added to all the cells of a motorcycle battery. Four grams are added to each cell in an automotive battery. Agitate battery frequently for a few days (normal use will do). Finally, give the battery a thorough charge.

The article sez that the method works on batteries that work but don't work "well enough" anymore. It says that the earlier in its life you give it the treatment, the longer it will last. It claims that a marginal battery can be restored to useful condition for a period of time "quite often by many years."

Being a skeptic, and having access to EDTA, I decided to try this with a four year old battery (that's showing signs of age) in one of my bikes before posting. It worked for me. I haven't been able to use the electric start on that bike for the past year. After treatment, the electric start always works when the motor is hot and sometimes even when cold. Well worth the ten minutes it took to "install." The installation was in February and the battery I thought I would need to replace this summer looks like it will last.
"No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle." - Winston Churchill
The Nashville Flash - DoD # 412
From: dab@vuse.vanderbilt.edu (The Nashville Flash)
Newsgroups: rec.motorcycles
Subject: EDTA - A Chemistry Lesson
Summary: Shameless reprint of VBMW reprinted article.
Date: 19 May 92 18:58:13 GMT
Organization: Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, Nashville, TN, USA

>From Vintage BMW Bulletin, May-June 1992, v20n3 (w/o permission)

>From Vintage BMW Bulletin, Nov-Dec 1991, v19n6
Prolonging the Useful Life of a Lead Acid Battery
by K.L. Martin, B.Sc.(Hon)(London)

Very few lead acid batteries are replaced because they stop working. In almost every case the battery is replaced because it doesn't work _well enough_ anymore. What is not generally realized is that something can be done at this stage which may prolong the useful life of the battery - quite often by many years, and that the same treatment carried out earlier in the battery's life may well have stopped the symptoms from occurring in the first place.

The reason for a battery failing is due to the chemical processes which take place in each cell when the battery is not fully charged. Even the slightest discharge condition allows both plates to react slowly with the sulfuric acid electrolyte to form lead ions. It is these lead ions which cause problems; they combine with sulfate ions in sulfuric acid to form highly insoluble lead sulfate. When this coats the plates of the battery, it fails to deliver enough power to be of use. The battery may well be serviceable every other way - only the "sulfating" stops the battery from delivering enough power to be of use.

The sulfating can effectively be removed, or prevented, by adding to each cell a chemical called tetrasodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate (often abbreviated to tetrasodium EDTA). This chemical forms co-ordination compounds with many metal ions, including lead ions formed in the discharge cycle of a battery. The compound formed by lead ions and the EDTA ion is not particularly stable in the acid medium of a battery, but when it breaks down again any lead sulfate regenerated tends to drop to the bottom of the cell where it lays harmlessly since it doesn't conduct electricity. Any regenerated EDTA ions are free to continue their work.

This is likely to occur if the motorcycle is used just for short trips, is infrequently used, or has at any time suffered from an inefficient charging system. Treating with the chemical can also help keep an original battery in use, and can help in bringing back into use a stored battery. It is also a once-only treatment, lasting the life of the renovated battery.
"No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle." - Winston Churchill
The Nashville Flash - dab@vuse.vanderbilt.edu - DoD # 412

Date: Tue, 10 Nov 92 12:29:50 PST
From: Ed Hackett
To: euro-moto@rigel.dfrf.nasa.gov
Subject: EDTA

OK, you asked for it!

N,N'-1,2-Ethanediylbis[N-(carboxymethyl)glycene] tetrasodium salt or more commonly, ethylenediamenetetraacetic acid tetrasodium salt.

Even with that impressive name it is classified as non hazardous, so shipping is no problem. Pack it so that it can't get out, so that if it does, nobody gets over exited about it. Just send it, but don't make any mention of what is in the package. Saying the package contains chemicals will run up the red flag. EDTA gets a big 0 in all classes of hazards(health, flammability, and reactivity).

It is a minor skin irritant, so if you get any on you, rinse it off. The LD 50 in rats is 2000mg/Kg so you would have to eat over a quarter pound to do yourself any harm. It is used as a chelating agent in reactions (that's why I have a bottle) and as treatment for heavy metals poisioning. It binds the metals in the blood so they are no longer active and your body can remove them by its' normal means.

Malossi Float Bowls:
Speaking of chemistry, I just blew a precison regulator on one of my instruments, so I had a few hours to waste. I scanned a Malossi plastic float bowl to see what it was made of. It was too thick to get a good reading (our insrument is set up for a film that is just a few molecules thick). It appears to be either an aramid or a polyamide (nylon) the C-H bands were satuated due to the thickness, so I couldn't tell if it was an aromatic or not. It is probably a nylon. In either case it would be safe for anything that would normally be found in gas, including alcohols and ethers. The melting had to have been caused by something in the additives (it is most likely disolved by acids, phenol or cresol).

Ed Hackett edh@wheeler.wrc.unr.edu The Desert Research Institute
DoD #0200 WMTC BMWRA DIOC Reno, Nevada (702) 673-7380
KotLS KtoLE DotD #0003 I'm not really a chemist, I'm just one of
900SS K100RS 501 CAMEL them motorsickle sonsabitches.

Colorado State University Chemical Supply
Fort Collins, CO 805??
9-11:30A 1-3:30P
500g EDTA ~$22-$23 8/95

From leavitt@cs.UMD.EDU Thu Nov 9 18:41:27 1995
Subject: Re: EDTA (was Re: Battery Life)
Organization: The Cafe at the Edge of the Universe
Bostick & Sullivan moved this past September. Their new contact info is

Bostick & Sullivan
PO Box 16639
Santa Fe, NM 87506-6639

Tel: (505) 474-0890
Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm, Mountain Time Zone

I bought 500g about a year ago. It came to about $17, inc. shipping/handling. You can find more than enough folks here on rec.moto, et al, to sell or give away what you don't need.

Mr. Bill
Bill Leavitt, leavitt@cs.umd.edu | "Blow it out your ass, motorcycle man!
AMA, ICOA, Lemans, KTC, DoD #224 | I am THE DEVIL, do you UNDERSTAND?"
HON: 82 CBX, 79 CX500C, 76 CJ360 |________--Frank Zappa, "Titties & Beer"
SUZ: 82 GS850G, 76 RE5, 2-75 RE5 KAW: 72 H2 "More bikes than brains!"

In November '99, PatDial@compuserve.com emailed to say that he bought a large quantity of EDTA and will sell smaller quantities to those in need. Contact him directly. (He was pleased with the results, too.)

In May of '01, notice was received that http://pureresearch.co.uk/ sells EDTA in the UK and can supply around the world with secure credit card order facilities.

You got this from http://www.deathstar.org/~flash.