October 19-19, 2017
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Lead Acid Battery Facts & Information

Nickel Battery Technologies: Facts & Information


Energy Technologies, Inc. (ETI) manufactures its UPS Internal and External Battery Modules using the safest and highest reliability battery designs. The following describes several of the features of nickel based versions.

Nickel Cadmium (NiCad)

The nickel–cadmium battery (Ni–Cd battery) (commonly abbreviated NiCd or NiCad) is a type of rechargeable battery using nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes.

Sealed Ni–Cd cells may be used individually, or assembled into battery packs containing two or more cells. Small cells are used for portable electronics and toys, often using cells manufactured in the same sizes as primary cells. Specialty Ni–Cd batteries are used in cordless and wireless telephones, emergency lighting, and other applications.

Ni–Cd cells have a nominal cell potential of 1.2 volts (V). This is lower than the 1.5 V of alkaline and zinc–carbon primary cells, and consequently they are not appropriate as a replacement in all applications. However, the 1.5 V of a primary alkaline cell refers to its initial, rather than average, voltage. Unlike alkaline and zinc–carbon primary cells, a Ni–Cd cell's terminal voltage only changes a little as it discharges.


When compared to other forms of rechargeable battery, the Ni–Cd battery has a number of distinct advantages:

  • The batteries are more difficult to damage than other batteries, tolerating deep discharge for long periods. In fact, Ni–Cd batteries in long-term storage are typically stored fully discharged. This is in contrast, for example, to lithium ion batteries, which are less stable and will be permanently damaged if discharged below a minimum voltage.
  • Ni–Cd batteries typically last longer, in terms of number of charge/discharge cycles, than other rechargeable batteries such as lead/acid batteries.
  • Compared to lead–acid batteries, Ni–Cd batteries have a much higher energy density. A Ni–Cd battery is smaller and lighter than a comparable lead–acid battery. In cases where size and weight are important considerations (for example, aircraft), Ni–Cd batteries are preferred over the cheaper lead–acid batteries.
  • In consumer applications, Ni–Cd batteries compete directly with alkaline batteries. A Ni–Cd cell has a lower capacity than that of an equivalent alkaline cell, and costs more. However, since the alkaline battery's chemical reaction is not reversible, a reusable Ni–Cd battery has a significantly longer total lifetime. There have been attempts to create rechargeable alkaline batteries, or specialized battery chargers for charging single-use alkaline batteries, but none that has seen wide usage.
  • The terminal voltage of a Ni–Cd battery declines more slowly as it is discharged, compared with carbon–zinc batteries. Since an alkaline battery's voltage drops significantly as the charge drops, most consumer applications are well equipped to deal with the slightly lower Ni–Cd cell voltage with no noticeable loss of performance.
  • The capacity of a Ni–Cd battery is not significantly affected by very high discharge currents. Even with discharge rates as high as 50C, a Ni–Cd battery will provide very nearly its rated capacity. By contrast, a lead acid battery will only provide approximately half its rated capacity when discharged at a relatively modest 1.5C.


  • The primary trade-off with Ni–Cd batteries is their higher cost and the use of cadmium. This heavy metal is an environmental hazard, and is highly toxic to all higher forms of life. They are also more costly than lead–acid batteries because nickel and cadmium cost more.
  • One of the biggest disadvantages is that the battery exhibits a very marked negative temperature coefficient. This means that as the cell temperature rises, the internal resistance falls. This can pose considerable charging problems, particularly with the relatively simple charging systems employed for lead–acid type batteries. Whilst lead–acid batteries can be charged by simply connecting a dynamo to them, with a simple electromagnetic cut-out system for when the dynamo is stationary or an over-current occurs, the Ni–Cd battery under a similar charging scheme would exhibit thermal runaway, where the charging current would continue to rise until the over-current cut-out operated or the battery destroyed itself. This is the principal factor that prevents its use as engine-starting batteries. Today with alternator-based charging systems with solid-state regulators, the construction of a suitable charging system would be relatively simple, but the car manufacturers are reluctant to abandon tried-and-tested technology.

Nickel Hydrogen

A nickel–hydrogen battery (NiH2 or Ni–H2) is a rechargeable electrochemical power source based on nickel and hydrogen.It differs from a nickel–metal hydride (NIMH) battery by the use of hydrogen in gaseous form, stored in a pressurized cell at up to 1200 psi (82.7 bar) pressure.

The nickel-hydrogen battery combines the positive nickel electrode of a nickel-cadmium battery, and the negative electrode includes the catalyst and gas diffusion elements of a fuel cell. During discharge, hydrogen contained in the pressure vessel reacts with oxygen from the nickel oxyhydroxide electrode. Water is consumed at the nickel electrode and produced at the hydrogen electrode, so the concentration of the potassium hydroxide electrolyte does not chage. As the battery discharges, the hydrogen pressure drops, providing a reliable state of charge indicator. In one communication satellite battery, the pressure at full charge was over 500 pounds/square inch (3.4 MPa), dropping to only about 15PSI (0.1 MPa) at full discharge.

Nickel-Iron (The Edison Battery)

The nickel–iron battery (NiFe battery) is a storage battery having a nickel(III) oxide-hydroxide cathode and an iron anode, with an electrolyte of potassium hydroxide. The active materials are held in nickel-plated steel tubes or perforated pockets. It is a very robust battery which is tolerant of abuse, (overcharge, overdischarge, and short-circuiting) and can have very long life even if so treated.It is often used in backup situations where it can be continuously charged and can last for more than 20 years. Due to its low specific energy, poor charge retention, and its high cost of manufacture, other types of rechargeable batteries have displaced the nickel–iron battery in most applications.

Invented by Waldemar Jungner in 1899, These batteries was developed by Thomas Edison in 1901, and used as the energy source for electric vehicles, such as the Detroit Electric and Baker Electric. Edison claimed the nickel–iron design to be, "far superior to batteries using lead plates and acid".

Nickel-Metal Hydride

A nickel–metal hydride cell, abbreviated NiMH or Ni-MH, is a type of rechargeable battery. It is very similar to the nickel–cadmium cell (NiCd). NiMH use positive electrodes of nickel oxyhydroxide (NiOOH), like the NiCd, but the negative electrode uses a hydrogen-absorbing alloy instead of cadmium. A NiMH battery can have two to three times the capacity of an equivalent size NiCd, and their energy density approaches that of a lithium-ion cell.

NiMH batteries have replaced NiCd for many roles, notably small rechargeable batteries. NiMH batteries are very common for AA (penlight-size) batteries, which have nominal charge capacities (C) ranging from 1100 mA·h to 3100 mA·h at 1.2 V, measured at the rate that discharges the cell in five hours. Useful discharge capacity is a decreasing function of the discharge rate, but up to a rate of around 1×C (full discharge in one hour), it does not differ significantly from the nominal capacity. NiMH batteries normally operate at 1.2 V per cell, somewhat lower than conventional 1.5 V cells, but will operate most devices designed for that voltage.

Applications of NiMH electric vehicle batteries includes all-electric plug-in vehicles. such as thHybrid vehiclese Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, Ford Escape Hybrid, and Honda Civic Hybrid also use them. NiMH technology is used extensively in rechargeable batteries for consumer electronics, and it will also be used on the Alstom Citadis low floor tram ordered for France; as well as the humanoid prototype robot ASIMO. NiMH batteries are also commonly used in remote control cars.



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