BU-215: Summary Table of Nickel-based Batteries

Nickel-based batteries dwell between lead acid and Li-ion. They are safe, economical and long-living but are increasingly being assigned to niche markets. Table 1 summarizes the characteristics of present, past and future nickel-based batteries.
 

Chemistry

Nickel-cadmium

Nickel-metal-hydride

Nickel-iron

Nickel-zinc

Nickel-hydrogen

Abbreviation

NiCd

NiMH

NiFe

NiZn

NiH

Type

Nickel cathode;
cadmium anode

Nickel cathode;
hydrogen-absorbing anode

Oxide-hydroxide cathode; iron anode with potassium hydroxide electrolyte

Similar to NiCd; uses alkaline electrolyte and nickel electrode

Nickel electrodes, hydrogen electrodes, in pressurized vessel

Nominal voltage

1.20V/cell (1.25)

1.20V

1.65V

1.25V

Charge

Taper charger. Constant current; floating voltage

Taper charger, similar to NiCd

Taper charger, similar to NiCd

Not defined

Full charge

Observing voltage drop; plateau voltage as override

1.9V

Not defined

Trickle charge

0.1C

0.05C

Not defined

No trickle charge

Not defined

Specific Energy

45–80Wh/kg

60–120Wh/kg

50Wh/kg

100Wh/kg

40–75Wh/kg

Charge rate

Can be above 1C

0.5–1C

Not defined

Regular charge

Not defined

Discharge rate

Can be above 1C

1C

Moderate

Relative high power

Not defined

Cycle life
(full DoD)

1,000

300–500

20 years in UPS

200–300

Very long cycle life (>70,000 partial)

Maintenance

Full discharge every 3 months (memory)

Full discharge every 6 months

Not defined

Not defined

Maintenance free; low self-discharge

Failure modes

Memory reduces capacity, reversible

Memory (less affected than NiCd)

Overcharge causes dry-out

Short cycle life due to dendrite growth

Minimal corrosion

Packaging

A, AA, C, also in fractional sizes

A, AA, AAA, C, prismatic

Not defined

AA and others

Custom made; each cell costs >$1,000

Environment

Broad temperature range. Toxic

Considered non-toxic

Poor performance when cold

Good temperature range

Operates at
–28
°C to 54°C

History

1899, sealed version made commercial in 1947

Research started in 1967, commercial in the 1980s; derived from nickel-hydrogen

In 1901,Thomas Edison patented and promoted NiFe in lieu of lead acid; failed to catch on for ICE, EV

In 1901, Thomas Edison was awarded the U.S. patent for the NiZn battery

Problems with instabilities in 1967 caused a shift from NiMH to NiH

Applications

Main battery in aircraft (flooded), wide temperature range

Hybrid cars, consumer, UPS

German V-1 flying bombs, V-2 rockets; railroad signaling, UPS, mining

Renewed interest to commercial market with Improvements

Exclusively satellites; too expensive for terrestrial use

Comments

Robust, forgiving, high maintenance. Only battery that can be ultrafast charged with little stress

More delicate than NiCd; has higher capacity; less maintenance

In 1990, Cd was substituted with Fe to save money. High self-discharge and high fabrication costs

High power, good temperature range, low cost but high self-discharge and short service life

Uses a steel canister to store hydrogen at 8,270kPa (1,200psi)

Table 1: Summary of most common nickel-based batteries. Experimental and less common versions are not listed. All readings are estimated average at time of publication. Detailed information is on BU-203: Nickel-based Batteries.

Last updated 2016-12-14

 

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Comments

On December 13, 2016 at 2:52pm
Steve S wrote:

On history of Ni-Fe it says, “In 1991, Thomas Edison promoted NiFe in lieu of lead acid; partial success”. Should be 1891