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Gaining power

February 14, 2011
By Deb Gau

IVANHOE - Bringing things back from the dead sounds like an ambitious plan for a small business. But Mark Paluch of Ivanhoe said he hopes it will catch on.

Late last year, Paluch started a new business, Battery CPR, that focuses on rejuvenating "dead" lead acid batteries. These are batteries commonly used in cars, golf carts, forklifts and other kinds of machines.

Paluch said he learned about battery refurbishing as he was looking for business opportunities. "It looked like something that would be worth the time to get into," he said. So far, Paluch said he's tested out batteries that he's refurbished, and has started to gain a few customers.

Article Photos

Photo by Deb Gau

Mark Paluch of Ivanhoe stands with some of the battery recharging equipment he uses for his new business, Battery CPR. The machines can be used to rejuvenate lead acid batteries and give them more life, Paluch said.

"It does what they say it does," he said of the rejuvenation process.

Paluch applied for and received a microenterprise loan from the Southwest Initiative Foundation to help get a battery rejuvenation franchise with Battery Services International. There are only a few companies that currently work with rejuvenating batteries, Paluch said, and BSI had a good reputation when he researched it. After getting a franchise, Paluch said, he spent time this summer with representatives of BSI, being trained to use their technology and equipment.

BSI and Battery CPR's method of bringing dead batteries back to life centers around a process called desulfation, Paluch said. In a lead acid battery, lead and sulfuric acid react with each other to release electricity, and a substance called lead sulfate is formed. Over time, more and more lead sulfate particles can build up in the battery cells and make it harder for the battery to hold an electrical charge. Paluch said Battery CPR's rejuvenation technology removes the sulfate buildup to help batteries power up again.

"Batteries die at half-life," Paluch said. After being desulfated and refurbished, a five-year battery should have an additional three to five years of life.

Not all batteries can be rejuvenated, however. For instance, Paluch said, "I can't do anything with a cracked (battery) plate." Paluch said the first step in the process is for him to inspect the batteries for damage and load test them. Damaged batteries, or batteries that can't be revived, get taken to be properly disposed of.

Paluch said close to 90 percent of the batteries he's tried to refurbish have been successful. If a battery is in good enough condition, Paluch said, it is desulfated and recharged using BSI's "Genesis" machinery and special battery additives. The refurbished batteries carry BSI's "Phoenix Power" logo.

Depending on the battery, rejuvenation is often cheaper than buying new, especially for businesses, Paluch said.

"I can do it for about half the price of a new battery," he said. "They are still going to have to buy batteries," he cautioned - the rejuvenation process can only be done once in a battery's lifetime. But using refurbished batteries would cut down on the need to buy new ones.

Right now, Paluch said, business is growing slowly. His main goal for now is to build up a customer base for Battery CPR. Ideally, he said, he would like to work with businesses that rely on equipment with lead acid batteries. Construction companies or retail businesses are two possibilities, he said - they make heavy use of electric forklifts that have deep cycle batteries.

"It's just a matter of getting out to customers," he said.



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