Plastic Battery Boxes

SolMan Registered Users Posts: 15
I have heard that some types of plastic packing containers (toolboxes, totes, etc.) cannot withstand battery acid. I'm currently using an "Action Packer" toolbox to hold two golf-cart batteries in a portable solar lighting setup, and am considering a another plastic box for a small shed-power system.
I've used Rubbermaid totes before, and I think they withstand acid well, but don't know about other plastics.
Anybody know?


  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,439 admin
    Re: Plastic Battery Boxes

    I would start by identifying the type of plastic (perhaps, the recycle symbol with the number inside--typically 1-7).
    Let’s start with #1 PET which stands for Polyethylene terephthalate. Soda bottles as well as some beer and liquor bottles are made from PET along with a variety of other food bottles and trays. PET can be melted and drawn out into long fibers and recycled into carpets, fiberfill for jackets, and fabric for T-shirts and shopping bags which unfortunately cannot be recycled. Manufacturers want recycled PET and buy it. Coca Cola has finally started using a measly 3 percent recycled PET in their bottles. Be aware that local recyclers only accept narrow-neck PET bottles. I have surmised over the years that used PET food containers with sticky food scraps contaminate the recycling machines.

    Milk and water jugs are made from number #2 HDPE or high-density polyethylene. Clear HDPE could easily be made into new containers. The colored HDPE (liquid detergent, and shampoo bottles) is generally recycled in plastic lumber. Those tough Tyvek mailing envelopes and white contamination suits are also a form of HDPE and are impossible to recycle.

    Vinyl or polyvinyl chloride (# 3 V) could be recycled. It is used for clear food packaging and plumbing pipe. However, collecting it for recycling is cost-prohibitive because there are not enough items made from the material to warrant local factories to recycle it into new products. They are generally used once and tossed.

    Low-density polyethylene (# 4 LDPE) is very flexible and made into bags for bread, frozen food, and grocery. Some of these bags are recycled into new bags or plastic lumber such as Trex. This plastic is lightweight and trucking it back for recycling uses more energy than producing a virgin product. Unless there is a recycling factory close by, most LDPE ends up in the landfill. Consider using cloth shopping bags. My husband and I have used the same bags for over eleven years.

    Polypropylene (# 5 PP) is made into yogurt, margarine, and other food containers. Like number 3 V, there are not enough containers made from PP to justify collecting it and shipping it to a recycling factory. In places where big industries use PP, there is enough volume for it to be sold for recycling.

    Then there’s #6 PS - Polystyrene, the plastic that I would ban from the face of the earth. Solid PS is made into compact disc jackets, eating utensils, and take-out food containers. The expanded PS know as Styrofoam is used for packing materials, coffee cups, meat trays, and egg cartons. The cost of moving used Styrofoam is higher than making it from virgin oil. Jax Place reported, “Foam recycling is a scam to make you feel OK about buying it. Don’t buy it; PS is buried in landfills.” Styrofoam is always found in our local creeks and rivers where birds and fish think it is food clogging up their digestive tracks thus ending their lives.

    The last of the labeled plastics is #7 OTHER. I echo Mr. Place’s voice, “Don’t buy this stuff unless you want to keep it. It can’t be sold or recycled.” Catsup bottles have wavered between PET and OTHER over the last few years. Lids and imported containers are likely to be made from mixed resins known as OTHER.
    Then use a Chemical Resistance Data Base like this one.

    For the 10-75% concentrations of Sulfuric Acid, I got:
    [FONT=Fixedsys]     Sulfuric Acid (10-75%)
    Material         Compatibility
    Carbon graphite  A-Excellent
    Carpenter 20     A-Excellent
    Ceramic Al203    A-Excellent
    ChemRaz (FFKM)   A-Excellent
    CPVC             A-Excellent
    Epoxy            A-Excellent
    Fluorocarbon (FKM)  A-Excellent
    Kalrez           A-Excellent
    Kel-Fr           A-Excellent
    LDPE             A-Excellent
    NORYLr           A-Excellent
    Polypropylene    A-Excellent
    PPS (Ryton®)     A-Excellent
    PTFE             A-Excellent
    PVC              A-Excellent
    PVDF (Kynar®)    A-Excellent
    Vitonr           A-Excellent
    ABS plastic      B-Good
    Bronze           B-Good
    Buna N (Nitrile) B-Good
    EPDM             B-Good
    Hastelloy-Cr     B-Good
    Hypalonr         B-Good
    Neoprene         B-Good
    Polycarbonate    B-Good
    Natural rubber   C-Fair
    304 stainless steel   D-Severe Effect
    316 stainless steel   D-Severe Effect
    Acetal (Delrinr)      D-Severe Effect
    Aluminum         D-Severe Effect
    Carbon Steel     D-Severe Effect
    Cast iron        D-Severe Effect
    Nylon            D-Severe Effect
    Polyetherether Ketone (PEEK)     D-Severe Effect
    Polyurethane     D-Severe Effect
    Silicone         D-Severe Effect
    Titanium         D-Severe Effect
    Ratings -- Chemical Effect
    A = Excellent.
    B = Good -- Minor Effect, slight corrosion or discoloration.
    C = Fair -- Moderate Effect, not recommended for continuous 
                use. Softening, loss of strength,swelling may occur.
    D = Severe Effect, not recommended for ANY use.[/FONT]
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Kamala
    Kamala Solar Expert Posts: 452 ✭✭
    Re: Plastic Battery Boxes

    What a world! I thought all I would have to worry about was zinc on aluminum. I had a plastic fishing tackle box that I put plastic worms in. They melted right through the tray!

    In the end, it's all chemistry.
  • dlenox
    dlenox Solar Expert Posts: 42
    Re: Plastic Battery Boxes

    I've heard of others that used Rubermaid chests as a battery box, not sure if they would hold up to raw battery acid.

    After looking high and low at commercial boxes and ruled them out as being way to expensive. For mine I went to PS Composites and had them make me up a couple of trays details are here

    My main concern was acid containment, electrical isolation, heat/cold isolation and ventilation.

    Very happy with them, contact Paul Schreiner if you are interested in the trays.

    Dan Lenox
  • dwh
    dwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Plastic Battery Boxes
    Kamala wrote: »
    In the end, it's all chemistry.

    Ah...well, no. In the end, it's all energy. :D