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Max The Magnificent
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I'm guessing Atomic is out
Max The Magnificent   12/4/2013 3:57:21 PM
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Hi Ivan -- I'm guessing that you've ruled Atomic batteries out as a power source for my robot -- I'm very much looking forward to reading your future columns on this topic

Caleb Kraft
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Re: I'm guessing Atomic is out
Caleb Kraft   12/5/2013 5:35:01 PM
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Hydrogen cell! having a water powered robot would be incredibly fun to say regardless of the pain in the ass.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I'm guessing Atomic is out
Max The Magnificent   12/5/2013 5:43:33 PM
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@Caleb: Hydrogen cell! having a water powered robot would be incredibly fun to say...

Ooooh, Tasty!

David Ashton
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Voltages?
David Ashton   12/4/2013 4:20:01 PM
Hi Ivan and welcome

It would be nice if your list had the base voltage of each type, eg 2V for Lead-Acid, 1.2 for NiCd, etc.   Since that has some impact on the choice of a battery, maybe you'll cover that later, though??

eetcowie
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Re: Voltages?
eetcowie   12/4/2013 5:07:20 PM
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Yes, I did plan on listing the per-cell voltages. Thank you for reminding me.

Max The Magnificent
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Big Ben
Max The Magnificent   12/4/2013 5:57:55 PM
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I just read that Benjamin Franklin first coined the term "battery" in 1748 to describe an array of charged glass plates.

Brakeshoe
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Zinc-air cells
Brakeshoe   12/5/2013 11:38:58 AM
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As a hearing aid engineer (and one of 8.5 million users) I'm particularly interested in zinc-air technology, specifically with humidity. One engineer I know calls it a fuel cell, but nstead of pumping in O2 it extracts it out of the air.

Max The Magnificent
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A pile of...
Max The Magnificent   12/4/2013 5:59:16 PM
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Alessandro Volta's battery was called the "Voltaic Pile" -- it was constructed of alternating discs of zinc and copper with pieces of cardboard soaked in brine between the metals.

betajet
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Baghdad Battery
betajet   12/4/2013 6:34:48 PM
Batteries may have existed 1000 or more year before Volta: see Wikipedia's History of the Battery.  If this was the case, it's hard to see why such a useful technology disappeared for so long.  Perhaps it was banned by religious forces claiming it was the work of the devil -- or a scientific threat to religion.  More likely there was a huge patent dispute which completely halted the Progress of Science and useful Arts :-)

David Ashton
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Re: Baghdad Battery
David Ashton   12/4/2013 7:10:30 PM
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@Betajet...  "it's hard to see why such a useful technology disappeared for so long"

It's because they didn't have cellphones and Ipods in those days :-)

 

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Baghdad Battery
Caleb Kraft   12/5/2013 5:36:07 PM
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makes you wonder what other tech has stumbled because we didn't have the accompanying technology to make it a necessity.

David Ashton
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Re: Baghdad Battery
David Ashton   12/5/2013 6:55:57 PM
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@Caleb....I'm sure there's lots of tech like this, but just consider Peltier effect - discovered in the 1830's, but only in widespread used these days for coolers etc (and rings, as you recently pointed out, though as you also pointed out this is the complimentary Seebeck effect (ie generating electricity form a temperature difference, rather than Peltier which is generating a temperature difference form a current?))

chrisnfolsom
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Re: Baghdad Battery
chrisnfolsom   12/5/2013 5:31:13 AM
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Useful for what to whome?  That was the midevil period though so anything "strange" might have branded you a witch..  without Generators to charge batteries you couldn't do much - and we didn't have generators until 1873, but wow things cascaded quickly once we had power generation.

I am very interested in this subject and wish today's products would be made compatible with rechargable lithium cells running at 3.7v and normal alkalines at 1.5v so we could start having AAA, AA, 9V (3.7x3), etc pure lithium cells.  I know it might be somewhat tricky, but it would be nice to get rid of heavy, single use, low power density alkaline land fille batteries for good.  With the speed we replace electronics these day's it wouldn't take long.

Devad
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Have you considered the question: When is it time to discard a battery ?
Devad   12/5/2013 12:06:37 PM
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This is mainly for non-rechargables (acctually it could apply to rechargable too).  Is there a standard load voltage drop vs load that's used to indicate the internal battery resistance is to high for practical use ?  Digital cameras tend to be very picky about power supply.   I've taken digitial camera batteries deemed BAD by the camera and used them succesfully in other less picky electronics. ( I wouldn't suggest using them in a  pace maker).    This begs the question: Are we discarding nearly good batteries ? Maybe recycling usefull batteries or worse sending them to the land fill.  

 

eetcowie
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Re: when to discard or not
eetcowie   12/5/2013 12:42:41 PM
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'One man's trash is another man's treasure', so they say. I will cover what the manufacturer says is the end of its service life. Who's to say that it is really the end?

Devad
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Re: when to discard or not
Devad   12/5/2013 12:50:39 PM
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Looking forward it and All About Batteries.  When I was in the workforce hardly any of the equipment used batteries.  Standby operation was a highlight when I retired.

Crusty1
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Re: Charging Batteries
Crusty1   12/5/2013 2:18:55 PM
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@Ivan Cowie: Spent a lot of my time in London Underground Research Labs testing all types of batteries, so I look forward to you articles.

I came across one Sealed lead acid charger that had the ability to get a dead battery back on it's feet, it was rumored that it used pulsed AC but I never got a look at the circuit.

 

eetcowie
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Re: Charging Batteries
eetcowie   12/5/2013 3:14:15 PM
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Also, Nickel Cadmium types were notorious for growing metal-fiber 'wires', that would partially short out a cell. There appeared a capacitor-based rejuvenator that would pulse a high-current into the cell to blow out the metal fibers and breathe new life. A similar treatment was touted to break loose sulfation in lead-acid cells. The applied voltage waveform shape and duration was critical to keep from doing too much damage. In some cases, it killed the remaining life, but was sometimes worth the risk.

David Ashton
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Re: Charging Batteries
David Ashton   12/5/2013 4:15:40 PM
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@Ivan...I use a lot of NiCds and actually made up a "rejuvenator" for them to zap them with a high current for a short time, discharge, then zap again.  I did this with a  555 and entered it for the 555 competition a couple of years ago, the circuit is here:

http://stn564.hackhut.com/files/downloads/2011/02/555-NiCd-Battery-Rejuvenator.pdf

Mixed success, some batteries can't be fixed, but on some it works a treat.  You need to put a battery on the rejvenator for an hour or two, then give it a full charge at the normal rate.  I have specified 2C zap (ie a current of twice the AH capacity of the battery) but you can go to 5C or more for stubborn ones.

I just use a high current supply (eg a PC Power supply) but you can also use a capacitor to give the "zap".  I prefer a high current supply as it gives a more sustained and controllable zap.

Stargzer
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Re: Charging Batteries
Stargzer   2/3/2014 12:56:28 PM
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@eetcowie: "Also, Nickel Cadmium types were notorious for growing metal-fiber 'wires', that would partially short out a cell. There appeared a capacitor-based rejuvenator that would pulse a high-current into the cell to blow out the metal fibers and breathe new life."

Back in the mid-to-late 70s Popular Electronics had a simple circuit for a NiCd zapper.  It had a 24V transformer and a full-wave bridge that charged a capacitor, and it had a selector switch (charge or zap), a pushbutton to zap, and a meter to monitor the charge on the cap and on the battery.  A friend built one to try to resurrect some surplus NiCds he'd bought.  One let out a tremendous FLASH and a ZAP, and then started to take a charge.  The article said if it didn't start taking a charge after 2 or 3 zaps it never would.  He was able to recover most of the "dead" batteries.  Not much of a special waveform, but at the cost of used batteries, you didn't lose much by trying.  I doubt that would work for Li cells!

I also read that another failure mode with NiCds was that a weak cell caught in a string of good cells would be charged in reverse.

 

zeeglen
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Re: Charging Batteries
zeeglen   2/3/2014 3:15:48 PM
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@ Stargzer  Back in the mid-to-late 70s Popular Electronics had a simple circuit for a NiCd zapper.

I think it was Pop'tronics that also said a shorted NiCd could sometimes be burned open by momentarily placing it in parallel with a fully charged NiCd cell.  It did work a few times.


RGARVIN640
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Re: Charging Batteries
RGARVIN640   12/5/2013 3:53:46 PM
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Crusty1: There are many 'rejuvinator' devices that are used here in the states for large truck batteries. If you can get an extra couple of months usage out of a battery it is worth the 8-10 hours that the process takes.

Crusty1
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Re: Charging Batteries
Crusty1   12/5/2013 4:06:15 PM
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@Rgarvin640:Yes we used to manually use the lab power pack to step up the current to a dead NiCad untill the voltage started to drop and then discharge with a short, some times it would blow the short.

I have a lot of tales about battery use in London Underground Trains and before they were sold off Bus batteries.

I love the single cell lead acid batteries we used on the battery locomotives used to maintain track. They were very big 3 foot high an 1 foot deep float charged from the track 660 V DC during the day.

psingh335
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Re: Charging Batteries
psingh335   5/9/2014 2:20:44 PM
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I have read of people who are re-using lead acid batteries which have been withdrawn from automotive service, and they use DC with an AC component, for charging.

eetcowie
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Re: Charging Batteries
eetcowie   5/9/2014 2:53:16 PM
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Pulse charging, became popular after Nickel Cadmium came out, to measure the internal resistance. It did something like what you describe, but also had the advantage to help break loose (spoken loosely) materials from the electrodes (or in the case of NiCd to help prevent the formation of micro-fine shorts).

RGARVIN640
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Shipping issues
RGARVIN640   12/5/2013 3:56:45 PM
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 Ivan: Some where in your articles it would be helpfull to discuss the shipping issues with different battery chemistryies. This is something that can catch both designers and PM's off guard, at least the first time they go thru it. :)

OldOldEng
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Nickel Iron battery
OldOldEng   12/6/2013 8:54:13 AM
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Also please include the Nickel Iron battery type.  I know it has not been used for a while, but may still be usefull due to it's long life.

DrFPGA
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Blog and Battery U
DrFPGA   12/6/2013 12:39:52 PM
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Thanx for the excellent blog. Looking forward with anticipation to the rest. Also, thanx for the link to Battery U. Great resource.

AZskibum
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Re: Blog and Battery U
AZskibum   12/7/2013 1:01:10 PM
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Yes, Battery U is an excellent resource.

Ivan, although nuclear RTGs are not for mainstream applications, I hope you will incldue them in your discussion, for the benefit of we space junkies. I have read that the old standby Pu-238 is not the optimum choice for deep space vehicle RTGs and I'm curious about the pros & cons of different radioactive isotopes for RTG use.

I also find it fascinating that even after more than 36 years in space, the 487 watt (at launch) batteries on Voyager 1 are still producing about 250 watts.

balkrishna47
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Life of a battery
balkrishna47   12/11/2013 12:45:49 AM
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 Thanks for selecting battery as a subject.I have been  desining battery chargers in industry( Lead Acid) since 1972 for Indian Railways and Post and Telegraph Department. What I learned is they can use the LA batteries for more than 10 years. They used singal cell units with every day maintainence. However what I heard for my car battery themaximum life as per the auto repairer is one to three years as per usage of the car. Sulphatation, high starting current demand  non tubular design and mobile use (Sunjected to acceleration in all direction) being the main problem.

I also heared about polymer conductor battery that has long life (may be now being used ih cell phones) But is there any varient in capacities comparable to lead acid batteries? 

eetcowie
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Re: Life of a battery
eetcowie   12/11/2013 12:00:33 PM
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The amount of lithium it would take to get a battery capacity similar to a car battery creates a little shipping trouble. However, you can find them at places like www.lithionicsbattery.com/rv.html.

NielV
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Re: Life of a battery
NielV   12/15/2013 2:23:09 PM
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Keep in mind a Pb-based battery needs to be kept fully charged or it dies, so it is derated to allow for capacity loss over the expected life of a battery.  And in some countries you need to crank at very low temperature where you have only say 25% capacity available.  In temperate climates you can get away with a much smaller battery, especially when you consider you do not have to keep the battery fully charged.  It is commonly stated you need only half the capacity of a Pb-based battery.  Shipping of Li is an issue, however if each cell is less than 20Wh then it is not that hard.

psingh335
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Nickel Iron
psingh335   5/9/2014 2:13:55 PM
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It would be remiss to ignore NiFe, since the Chinese battery makers are in full production mode.

No liquids or semi liquids in transportation.

eetcowie
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Re: Nickel Iron
eetcowie   5/9/2014 2:45:27 PM
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Ahh, I will add it to the list.

Thanks!

psingh335
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Re: Nickel Iron
psingh335   5/11/2014 7:04:45 PM
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Thank you very much for considering the inclusion of Nickel Iron batteries in your no doubt daunting task of discussing batteries and other storage media.

My main considration for NiFe batteries is (emergency) backup for solar PV during the hurricane season in Florida and the Southern US. The sun is shining but the power line is broken.

A second consideration would be the initial cost of installation, compared to lead-acid, and never having to dispose of these batteries.

The US Solar PV dealers/suppliers do not want to discuss NiFe batteries. The utility companies just do not want solar grid-tie, especially with batteries.

The US manufactured NiFe are expensive.

Do not forget to mention ex-Tonight Show host Jay Leno, the most famous NiFe battery user.

As if you needed another source of energy storage:please mention super-caps that are becoming available an in use by some renewable power generators.

eetcowie
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Re: Nickel Iron
eetcowie   5/12/2014 9:37:45 AM
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thanks for the info.

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