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Edison Nickel Iron Battery


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  #1  
Old 11-13-2013, 11:23:51 PM
Avery22x36 Avery22x36 is offline
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Default Edison Nickel Iron Battery

Has anyone ever made these from scratch? It looks simple enough, Thomas Edison was building them a century ago for early electric cars and today China and Russia makes them for all kinds of stuff. Everyplace I read it says "American companies are not interested in making a battery that lasts for 50-70 years". I saw a guy on Youtube plate the nickel side and that would be cheap enough and you could weld the plastic cases and everything else seems straight forward but I have not seen anyone do it on a usuable scale for wind generators? Is there something better? Replacing lead acid batteries every few years is a killer for an off grid home set up.

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Old 11-14-2013, 12:19:11 AM
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Default Re: Edison Nickel Iron Battery

If you look a the details of how the dison cell batteries were actually constructed they are far from simple. You could build something yourself but it would not wor nearly as well as the real thing. The good news is they are still in production from various places. You wont need nearly as much AH capcity since you still get several decades of servicefrom them even at discharge depths of 90%. The initial cost is high, the powe density is low so they eat a lot of floor space and they are very thirsty. Other than that they are a far better sollution than lead acid. Charge effeciency is about the same, abit less tha lead acid.
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Old 11-14-2013, 01:31:50 AM
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Default Re: Edison Nickel Iron Battery

It's true about the life of the Edisons alkalines. A friend owns a commercial battery outfit and up until the 1980's we'd get them in for minor service or scrapping, and a lot of them were date stamped from the 1920's.

Beautiful cells, metal cases and bright nickel plated with a well designed metal fill cap. The only downside was their ampacity was lower on a size by size comparison to lead acid. Sure was neat to look a a shiny nickel array of them as opposed to tar sealed lead acid cells. The cases were soldered together so you couldn't take them apart for plate repairs like you can with commercial lead acid cells.
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Old 11-14-2013, 06:32:12 AM
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Elden DuRand Elden DuRand is offline
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Default Re: Edison Nickel Iron Battery

In case you're interested, I've got scans of an original Edison battery care and use booklet on my webpage, under "Otherstuff".
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Old 11-14-2013, 09:38:18 AM
Dave R Dave R is offline
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Default Re: Edison Nickel Iron Battery

Used them on the railroad for coach lighting.Last forever. There is an old story of Edison when he was working on inventing them. Made nickel flakes very thin to get more surface area.He liked to blow a handful of flakes in the air and make it "snow" to show how thin they were. Took some time for them to all to reach the floor. I think it would be hard to make them yourself.
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:05:13 AM
Avery22x36 Avery22x36 is offline
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Default Re: Edison Nickel Iron Battery

Thanks Elden, I am going to search your page!
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Old 11-14-2013, 09:11:53 PM
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Default Re: Edison Nickel Iron Battery

This is all very interesting, thanks. Has anyone bought the newly made ones for off gird or backup systems? I was wondering if the Chinese or Russian copies are as good as the old Edison ones? From what I have found on the net for maybe 4 or 5 times the price of lead acid I could go Edison style and last the rest of my life. That almost sounds too good to be true? Of course your probably going to replace inverters every decade or so but that is not near as bad as the batteries. If anyone has any personal experience I would really like to know. Thanks
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:21:38 PM
dalmatiangirl61 dalmatiangirl61 is offline
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Default Re: Edison Nickel Iron Battery

When has chinese or russian made anything been as good as Made in the USA?

I looked at the Edison batteries a few years ago and played with the idea of trying to build one, one of my thoughts was building it into a 5 gallon bucket with a sealable lid.

Have you considered electric forklift batteries? Data centers (think internet/cable companies) and cell phone towers both use lots of batteries, and they change them out every few years, the service techs haul them in for scrap. I know a couple service guys, they've told me I just need to pay what the scrap man pays.
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Old 11-15-2013, 07:20:24 AM
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Default Re: Edison Nickel Iron Battery

I've fiddled with some Edison batteries and find that they are pretty "soft" (relatively high cell resistance). That is, the voltage changes a lot with load.

If you're going to use them, especially with an inverter, you need to consider this. About the only way around the softness is to get higher capacity batteries than you think you'll need.

They do last forever and, if charged slowly and to the right voltage, aren't that thirsty.
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Old 05-19-2015, 06:31:00 PM
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Default Re: Edison Nickel Iron Battery

I too looked into all this a few years ago, NiFe cells are a bit of a mixed bag.

On the plus side, they last forever, and are just about impossible to damage by either gross overcharging, or allowing to go and remain totally flat over long periods.
As they tolerate massive abuse quite well, they are super reliable.
They should be cheap to manufacture, but size and weight versus amp hour capacity makes them expensive to import from overseas.

On the down side, they are physically rather large for their capacity, the per cell voltage is low, so you need a LOT of cells, and they cannot take either fast charging or fast discharging, the nominally high internal cell resistance just will not allow it.

As has already been pointed out, the local commercial battery manufacturers don't like them, the profit margin and the short life and planned obsolescence of other battery technologies are just not there.
The very low electrical performance by today’s standards is also a problem, and unless there is a high volume market, it makes no business sense to begin manufacturing them in a first world country.

Unless you can make them yourself, the economics of having a very large low performance battery make NiFe cells a rather unattractive option for most people.
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