High cell impedance, which is associated with an electrolyte water loss mechanism, has developed in INTELSAT V Ni-H2 battery cells, resulting in voltage degradation. This phenomenon was first observed in the discharge behavior of specific cells of the INTELSAT V life test battery, which is INTELSAT supported and under test at COMSAT Laboratories. The mechanism responsible for the voltage degradation was identified by removing both anomalous and normal cells from the battery and fitting valve assemblies to their fill tubes. The cells were then returned to life testing. The valves were opened at intervals to release any accumulated fluid. Only the anomalous cells produced an accumulation of fluid, and, on analysis, the fluid proved to be essentially water.
Subsequently, in-orbit performance mimicked that of the life-test, and a technique based on enhanced vapor diffusion of the displaced water returning into the stack electrolyte was developed. This technique has been implemented for in-orbit batteries through ground command procedures and is now routinely performed to rejuvenate those batteries with cells exhibiting this phenomenon.
A description of the experimentation leading to the establishment of the rejuvenating technique and the results of its implementation for in-orbit batteries is presented.