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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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EZ Battery Reconditioning, AVOID

30 May 2019

Batteries... we've all got plenty of them and they never seem to last as long as you'd like them to.

So how about the opportunity to recondition any battery back to 100% using just a few household chemicals and the knowledge contained in a special ebook which you can buy for just US$47?

What's more, this process is so easy that you'll be able to make thousands of dollars every month by salvaging old batteries, reconditioning them back to 100% of their original state and then selling them.

Sound too good to be true?

You bet your life it is!

It's the "new batteries for old" scam and yesterday I saw it being advertised in a YouTube pre-roll video. Today I'll explain why it has all the hallmarks of a scam and what you actually get in the package.

Yes, I was watching a few vids on the Tube of You's when a preroll appeared which promised me access to fantastic information that could change my life -- allowing me to avoid having to buy new batteries ever again and giving me the chance for a very handsome income.

All for just US$47. Even better, once I'd paid my money, I'd have access to this life-changing information in just minutes and may well have reconditioned by first battery within an hour.

How could I resist clicking on that ad and being delivered to the EZ Battery Reconditioning website, where a very long embedded video is designed to fill the gullible with hope and inspiration.

The first thing I noticed is that if you go directly to the website in question you get the page linked to above... but if you click on the YouTube ad you get an "Add to cart" button and a whole lot more inducement to buy -- that's because the second link is an affiliate link and this is really just another multi-level marketing "opportunity". The product is obviously secondary to getting more "marketers" onboard.

If you take the time to watch the video you'll see that it's a pretty slick marketing pitch which has all the elements of "hard sell". There's a heart-rendering story of a poor guy who couldn't afford to pay his bills but whose car battery died, leaving him with the choice of feeding his family or spending $200 to replace it (sob, sob). Of course, this guy stumbled on the "secret" to restoring dead batteries and the day was saved -- now he wants to share this secret with YOU.

If you believe the spiel, he wants you to also benefit from this magic method of reconditioning batteries back to "100%" of their former glory -- but at a price, of course. After all, philanthropy only goes so far -- right?

Yes, if you buy this e-book you'll be able to restore all sorts of batteries back to full working capacity -- and in the video you'll see lead-acid, gell-cells, lithium cells, NiMH, NiCd and even zinc-carbon and alkaline primary cells all shown as being able to be "reconditioned".

Let's cut to the science for a moment...

In traditional lead-acid batteries (such as the ones in your car), a common form of failure is called sulfating. This is particularly common when a battery is left in a discharged state for any length of time (the process begins within hours). During the sulphation process, the lead plates are converted to lead sulphate by the acid in the cells and this sulphate, being an insulator, effectively makes it impossible to recharge the battery by conventional means. To all intents and purposes, a sulfated battery appears "dead".

There are a number of ways to reverse the sulphation process however, and the simplest one is to use a chemical which effectively dissolves the sulphate. Magnesium sulphate is such a chemical. So, emptying the acid from a sulfated battery then filling it with a solution of magnesium sulphate can effectively remove the layer of lead sulphate from the plates by taking it into solution -- thus exposing the naked lead beneath.

Of course this will only work if there is enough lead left in the first place. Batteries that have undergone severe sulphation will not recover because too much of the lead has been converted into sulphate. Batteries with mild sulphation however can be "bought back to life" -- although they will not be 100% because inevitably *some* of the lead is gone forever.

Now flush out the magnesium sulphate solution, rinse and replace with sulphuric acid of the correct strength (specific gravity) and recharge -- job done!

So, as is the case with most scams, there is a thin veneer of truth to the claims being made -- but as always is the case when the unscrupulous are seeking to part the gullible from their hard-earned cash, things are grossly overstated by the scammers.

Yes, you may be able to recover *some* capacity in *some* "dead" batteries.

But no, you will not restore them to 100% of their former glory because you've removed some of the lead. This will mean either reduced capacity or reduced life -- probably both.

Then there's the issue of all those other battery-types that this ebook claims you can "recondition". Some of it's true, most of it is false.

"You'll never have to buy another battery again" -- such a bold claim, so let's examine it.

Firstly, let's look at laptop batteries, a type this scam claims you can recondition using only items you'll find in your kitchen, garage or local hardware store.

While it's true that you can often "fix" a laptop battery by replacing only those cells which are faulty -- I simply can't seem to find any 18650 LiIon cells under the sink, or in the garage. Nor can I find a spot-welder anywhere around the house. Am I the exception?

So the claims made are woefully false. What's more, most LiIon cells tend to fail at about the same point in their life-span so if one or two cells have gone bad in your laptop battery, chances are that the others are also almost at the end of their useful life. That "reconditioned" laptop battery will not be 100%, even if you've replaced half the cells in it. More lies from the scammers.

NiCads? Yes, one of the most common failure modes for NiCad cells is a reduction in capacity and charge retention caused by the formation of dendrites. Dendrites are long thin crystalline structures that form as a result of the chemical processes involved in the charge and discharge cycles. Over time, these dendrites actually force their way through the separators that stop the two plates from touching. Once they provide an electrical pathway between the plates, the battery will no longer hold a charge.

Can this be fixed?

The answer is yes... sometimes... and be very careful!

Since the dendrites are so thin they can't actually carry much current so one way to "recondition" a "dead" NiCad cell is to "zap" it with a very short pulse of high current. This effectively vaporizes the dendrites in the same way that a momentary overload blows a fuse.

The problem is... how do you safely deliver such a short, powerful pulse of electrical energy using just common household chemicals and items you're likely to have in your kitchen or garage?

The answer is -- you can't!

There are some expensive chargers on the market that have circuitry designed to blow away dendrites -- but the sales pitch from the scammers claims you don't need special equipment.

You can simply risk your health and safety by momentarily connecting your 1.2V NiCad cell to a 12V battery to blow the dendrites away -- but if you do this then you really do run the risk of the cell exploding in your face so I certainly wouldn't recommend it.

Finally, let's look at primary cells. The zinc-carbon and alkaline cells that are shown both in the video and on the testimonial page -- where Karl Howard has a row of those 6V zinc-carbon lantern batteries sitting in front of him.

Although you can partially reverse the chemical processes in a alkaline battery, this can only happen reliably if you do so before the cell is about half-flat and it certainly won't work on a "dead" battery. This process will also only work a handful of times before the cell becomes useless -- so this fails the "100%" claim made by the scammers.

As for zinc-carbon primary cells, there is simply no way to recondition these things at all. Once the chemical reaction has taken place it is irreversible and the battery ceases to deliver useful power. Most zinc carbon cells do have a "depolarising" chemical in them that will actually sort out the chemical ions in such a way that some capacity is restored if the cell is left to rest (hence the Eveready catch-phrase "bounces back for extra life") but the amount of recovery is minimal. Heating a zinc-carbon cell will hasten the depolarisation process but again, not enough to restore any really useful capacity. These cells can NOT be reconditioned back to 100% by any known process.

Now let's leave the science behind because there one more hallmark of a scam associated with this product.

If you Google for "EZ Battery reconditioning scam" you'll seemingly find many sites which claim to offer unbiased, objective reviews of the product. Some even include small criticisms -- but ultimately state that it works and is great value. Look carefully and you'll also find affiliate links from these sites to the EZ website, where you can purchase the e-book and thus generate a commission for the "reviewer". This is a very common strategy for scams.

So there you go... there are no free lunches in this world and if you really want to recondition a battery, just go onto YouTube or Google to find the best ways to try it.

Don't waste your money on a scam like this -- but then again, I'm sure that all of Aardvark's regular readers already knew this.

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