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WHY DOES BATTERY ACID DISSOLVE METALS BUT NOT PLASTICS?

October 1, 2008

I need help with research for my science fair project. My question is: Why does battery acid dissolve metals but not plastics? Please point me in the right direction to gather enough information to form a working experiment.

Brittani S.
student - Mary Esther, Florida, USA

October 9, 2008

Brittani,

Battery Acid is a particular strength of sulfuric acid. Acids will attack some metals and not others (a simplification). This is why certain metals may be used to hold acid solutions or used in the mixing of them.

Plastics are similar. Some, because of their chemical structure, are resistant to some acids in some strengths. This varies widely with the type of plastic, the type of acid, the strength of the acid and the temperature of the acid.

Gene Packman
process supplier - Great Neck, New York


November 27, 2008

Hi Brittani,

Gene spelt that out to you pretty well,

When I was dealing with battery plants, we'd make the
holding tank from commercial 96% sulphuric but the car
type batteries only got around 36%.

Entire systems were made of ordinary PVC

In the olden days, the retention tanks were made of lead.

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton
- White Rock, British Columbia, Canada
(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


December 14, 2008

Freeman -good to see you back! Hope all is well with you.


Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK

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