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Thread: un-activated d cells

  1. #1
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    Default un-activated d cells

    Hi,I just bought a CODE RED flashlight that comes with 4 d cells(at a church rummage sale).The flashlight is just a common plastic rubber construction that uses a PR2 bulb no big deal,but here is where it gets interesting.The batteries are un-mixed,you have to turn the top of them so the liquid(thats in them)mixes.It says that these batteries will last 20 years(if not activated).It sounds like a good idea.The flashlight still had the sticker on it,it was purchased from Radio Shack for $15.88.I am guessing the late 80's.The company that produced it is Energetics corporation Redmond Washington.Anyone with any info?What could the liquid be in them?Thanks.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* hopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    my first guess is that the liquid is an electrolyte...but you guessed that already
    I'm sure. The chemical makeup is probably an acid but surely not lemon juice

    Could you post some pictures of the batteries and the light?

    It sounds like a real historical item to be preserved!!! Like those original
    Barbie dolls that now sell for $1000 each?

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    Flashaholic* TorchBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    I've seen this sort of thing mentioned on CPF but I really can't remember what they're called.
    No, a torch does not always mean flames.
    Ian.
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    Flashaholic* Fallingwater's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    This is interesting. Can you provide pictures? The system can't have been much good if such batteries are unavailable today, though.
    Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may die.

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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by hopkins View Post
    my first guess is that the liquid is an electrolyte...but you guessed that already
    I'm sure. The chemical makeup is probably an acid but surely not lemon juice

    Could you post some pictures of the batteries and the light?

    It sounds like a real historical item to be preserved!!! Like those original
    Barbie dolls that now sell for $1000 each?
    The liquid is an electrolyte; it's either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. The cells are fairly low capacity compared to modern alkaline D cells, but will last a long time in storage which is exactly what they are designed for.

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    Flashaholic* hopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    darn .....a base not an acid! Well I had a 50/50 chance a being wrong and I've
    got a SLA 6volt on the desk here so...

    Tried to search the web for pictures of twist top activated D-cells but no luck.

    Please post some pictures of those things if you can.

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    *Flashaholic* Mr Happy's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by hopkins View Post
    darn .....a base not an acid!
    Ah now, the "alkaline" in alkaline-manganese cells might have given you a clue as to what it was most likely to be...

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    Flashaholic* hopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    well sure, I hope that would have clued me in, but I've reread Loving Light's OP a couple times and he does not mention any chemistry info on the twist top D-cells thus his query.
    Maybe he'll cautiously cut one open and test the mystery juice with litmus paper?
    (i.e. an acid turns blue litmus paper red and a base turns red litmus paper blue
    - for you CPFers who have not had a chemistry class yet)

    Morepower sounds like you know about these type of batteries. Any info
    we could follow on the web to see these things?

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    Flashaholic* TorchBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated D cells

    Quote Originally Posted by hopkins View Post
    Maybe he'll cautiously cut one open and test the mystery juice with litmus paper?
    (i.e. an acid turns blue litmus paper red and a base turns red litmus paper blue
    - for you CPFers who have not had a chemistry class yet)
    Nah, red cabbage juice all the way! Or FTW as the case may be, depending on your country of vernacular.
    No, a torch does not always mean flames.
    Ian.
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by hopkins View Post
    well sure, I hope that would have clued me in, but I've reread Loving Light's OP a couple times and he does not mention any chemistry info on the twist top D-cells thus his query.
    Maybe he'll cautiously cut one open and test the mystery juice with litmus paper?
    (i.e. an acid turns blue litmus paper red and a base turns red litmus paper blue
    - for you CPFers who have not had a chemistry class yet)

    Morepower sounds like you know about these type of batteries. Any info
    we could follow on the web to see these things?
    Google is your friend; search for "code red" battery

    http://www.911emergencykits.com/site/745186/product/L33
    http://www.bgmicro.com/index.asp?Pag...D&ProdID=10996
    http://www.quakekare.com/index.asp?P...PROD&ProdID=47

    On further review, the liquid may be plain water which upon activation mixes with solid potassium hydroxide that is dispersed in the zinc powder of the anode.

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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Thanks MorePower!I tried to do a search(but I couldn't find anything).It really sounds like a good ideal,20 year shelf life(better than lithium?).Why do you guy's and girl's think that this never became mainstream?Sounds like a good battery for an Emergency kit.Thanks again to everyone for your help.

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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    - So I wonder if these are "old" stock or of recent manufacture? None of the references make mention of date codes. So the question of the day might be:
    20 year life starting from when?. 20 years from 1988 would be about right for these to start showing up for sale. Right about the time their 20 shelf live ends...

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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by loving light View Post
    Thanks MorePower!I tried to do a search(but I couldn't find anything).It really sounds like a good ideal,20 year shelf life(better than lithium?).Why do you guy's and girl's think that this never became mainstream?Sounds like a good battery for an Emergency kit.Thanks again to everyone for your help.
    They're expensive, they're more difficult to manufacture, and they have relatively low capacity.

    Personally, I'd just use normal alkaline cells in an emergency kit, check them every year or so, and replace them every 5 years or so.
    Last edited by MorePower; 08-26-2008 at 08:06 PM. Reason: spelling mistakes

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    Flashaholic* TorchBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated D cells

    Quote Originally Posted by MorePower View Post
    ... and replace them every 5 years or so.
    Which works well for the manufacturers, too.
    No, a torch does not always mean flames.
    Ian.
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    *Flashaholic* Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    to be anywhere near as productive as manufactured alkalines that mixture has to be well mixed after you turn it....and even then it may act just like zinc oxide cells...probably will work if someone creates a D cell adapter for the fenix E01 or the ARC but doubtful for anything else

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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by loving light View Post
    The flashlight still had the sticker on it,it was purchased from Radio Shack for $15.88.I am guessing the late 80's.

    From one of the websites:
    Introducing a revolutionary breakthrough in batteries!
    Wow... a revolutionary 20 year old breakthrough!

  17. #17
    *Flashaholic* Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by Turbo DV8 View Post
    From one of the websites:
    Wow... a revolutionary 20 year old breakthrough!
    well...20 years ago the ability to set wet cells into binary components that's stable enough to sustain itself over a span of 20 years could be considered a breakthrough

    I wonder how the plastic can contain the electrolyte without it eating through though...possibly a glass vial set to have the tube tip shaved off by a shear when you turn it?

  18. #18
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by Illum_the_nation View Post
    well...20 years ago the ability to set wet cells into binary components that's stable enough to sustain itself over a span of 20 years could be considered a breakthrough

    I wonder how the plastic can contain the electrolyte without it eating through though...possibly a glass vial set to have the tube tip shaved off by a shear when you turn it?
    There are a number of types of plastic that have good resistance to degradation by alkaline electrolyte.

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* hopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    If Loving Light is willing to activate one of the Code Red twist top D-cell's
    It would be very informative to do some tests on it to see if these thing are
    worth buying.

    Suggested tests
    1. unloaded output voltage after the initial twist and mix shaking.
    2. Momentary short circuit max current measurement.
    3 output voltage under various loads, 5ohms, 10ohms, 100ohms, 1000ohms.
    4. Does additional shaking bring it 'back to life' after some use?

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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by hopkins View Post
    2. Momentary short circuit max current measurement.
    3 output voltage under various loads, 5ohms, 10ohms, 100ohms, 1000ohms.
    Wouldn't it be better to reverse the complete sequence?

    Wulf

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* hopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    I'm thinking that if these types of Code Red D cells have little capacity and a
    high internal resistance this sequence will show it up. Although each measurement should only take about 1 sec.

    Then a runtime test with a modern flashlight should be done - say a Fenix E01
    - run copper wires into the little AAA compartment for instance and let 'er rip...
    When it gets dim see if shaking will re-energize it ?

    The big question is are they worth buying at all for the power they provide.

    Also wonder if they can be opened safely when dead and the electrolyte replaced with something like liquid plumber as a way to recharge them.

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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by hopkins View Post
    Also wonder if they can be opened safely when dead and the electrolyte replaced with something like liquid plumber as a way to recharge them.
    Replacing the electrolyte wouldn't help. The zinc in the anode and the manganese dioxide in the cathode are what react during discharge, so once the cell is dead, you end up with zinc oxide and manganese oxide.

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* hopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Oh. OK. And I'm now thinking the amount of metal in the anode and cathode would be paper thin. Just enough to react with the volume of electrolyte supplied.
    I bet these would be the type of trash that needs to go into the special
    hazmat bins too.

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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by MorePower View Post
    ...once the cell is dead, you end up with zinc oxide and manganese oxide.
    Cool, now you have sunscreen...

    well...20 years ago the ability to set wet cells into binary components that's stable enough to sustain itself over a span of 20 years could be considered a breakthrough
    Understand, but the "Introducing a revolutionary breakthrough in batteries" quote was not from a 20 year old web page!

  25. #25
    *Flashaholic* Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by Turbo DV8 View Post
    but the "Introducing a revolutionary breakthrough in batteries" quote was not from a 20 year old web page!
    in that case its just plain stupid

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* hopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    I wonder if these could be recharged? I understand (vaguely) why alkaline cells
    can't be recharged but these twist tops have a liquid inside that probably
    would allow easy ion charge transport reversing the discharge chemical
    products. Like lead acid batteries do but with different chemicals?

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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Quote Originally Posted by hopkins View Post
    I wonder if these could be recharged? I understand (vaguely) why alkaline cells
    can't be recharged but these twist tops have a liquid inside that probably
    would allow easy ion charge transport reversing the discharge chemical
    products. Like lead acid batteries do but with different chemicals?
    Ion transport in standard alkaline cells isn't why there are problems recharging them, it's because of (mainly) zinc dendrite growth that causes internal shorting. Also, deeper discharge (below 1.2V) results in more difficult to reverse discharge products, which in turn makes recharging less effective.

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* hopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: un-activated d cells

    Morepower -you are the man for battery beta! Thanks!
    I

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