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Thread: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

  1. #1

    Au Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    I am reposting this is a better area of the forum.

    In Canada the Nickel Iron Battery is being looked at once again for solar homes. The In Europe the flooded Nickel Cadmium battery is about to be banned. Nickel Iron will be the replacement. The Chinese have put 20 years of research and manufacturing into this type of battery. In India they have developed a sealed Nickel Iron Battery that may be appropriate for cars and boats.

    The Nickel Iron Battery is absolutely ideal for solar homes. The Wiki site now shows the true data for Nickel Iron Batteries. It is simply not true that they have a high discharge rate that affects solar home operation. The little discharge that occurs over a week is completely offset by the new energy is arriving daily The discharge rate is about 30% / month or about 1% per day ... very insignificant for solar applications.

    The newest of the NiFe batteries are from China where over 20 years of research has gone into perfecting them. Why was NiFe abandoned in NA? Very simply it was driven out of the country by lead acid battery manufacturers who were horrified at a battery that lasted for 30 to 50 years on the average!

    Here are the facts about their discontinuation in North America ...

    1/ The Edison Storage Battery Company was formed in 1910 approximately by Thomas Edison. It was a very profitable company selling batteries for Canadian and USA trains until about 1972. The batteries were also used extensively in Canadian and USA mines for emergency power and for underground trains. Yet many sites claim that NiFe batteries do not work in the cold! Why then would they be used amost exclusively on Canadian trains from 1920 to 1972?

    2/ The Edison Storage Battery Company was bought by the Exide (Lead Acid) Battery Company in 1972. The shareholders of Exide were told that Exide would begin manufacturing their own NiFe batteries soon.

    3/ In 1975 the Exide Battery Company pulled Nickel Iron Batteries off the market and ceased manufacturing them completely by 1975.

    There were many criticisms of Nickel Iron Batteries on this site ... almost all of them based on poor facts and no first hand knowledge of the batteries. Here is where the facts are found ...

    The Nickel Iron Battery Association
    http://www.nickel-iron-battery.com


    You will see my house there with NiFe backup power for leading edge LED lights. I bought the components for the lights from http://www.ledsupply.com. Since my battery system varries from 20 volts to 36.4 volts I had to use a constant current source DC to DC supply from Digikey ... the LED supply ones would only handle 32 volts.

    Check out the leading edge research in India from 2005 that succeeded in creating a sealed NiFe battery (thought to be impossible until then).

    I have been using a NiFe battery system now for 6 months and the NiFe cells are simply amazing. I have charged them without a controller for the first few weeks ... overcharging them like crazy. Then I discharged them right to zero. They came back up and were improved in the energy storage capacity. Currently I am experimenting with a Maximum Power Point Controller from Outback using 80 volts of panels to charge a 30 volt system.

    The rule of thumb for nickel iron is ...
    They loved to be overchaged and be worked hard!


    For solar homes NiFe batteries should be the standard.

    Environmental Danger of Lead for Solar Home Proliferation

    Suppose 1 million solar homes get built using 500 kg of lead acid batteries. It is estimated that in NA 3% of lead acid batteries never make it to recycling. That would mean that 15 million kilograms of lead ends up in rivers lakes and landfill sites every 10 years or so. If this actually happened no one could claim that solar homes were environmentally friendly!

    With Nickel Iron batteries solar can be totally fully environmentally friendly. The expired KOH electrolyte can be used for cleaning barns (it is used for this by farmers) or it can be diluted down and used to neutralize acid soils. Nickel and Iron are very harmless compared to lead. The NIFe battery is not a consumable like a lead acid battery is!

    It is true that under heavy load the voltage will go down ... but not by much ... they still produce enough current at a reasonable voltage to drive an inverter. In our experimental home we used DC power exclusively and high efficiency LED lighting. If you want to use an inverter, KiPoint (I think they are in Taiwan) will do a custom one. I discharge the nickel irons from 36.4 volts (equalize voltage) all the way down to 20 volts. I am about to order a custom inverter that can handle the almost 2/1 drop in voltage over a discharge and still produce a clean 120 VAC. It will only be used for a few appliances since we are slowly converting that house to run on DC,

    So please ... do not assume the NiFe battery is dead. It is just like the movie "who killed the electric car?" The Nickel Iron Battery was considered by Edison to be the very best invention of his life. It was killed by the Exide Battery Company who also published false literature concerning its characteristics. Jay Leno owns two of the 1912 Detroit Electric cars and one of them is still running on the original NiFe battery! Does that sound like a battery that is useless!

    Time to wake up the forum concerning Nickel Iron. There is much to discuss.

    Ian Soutar
    Vancouver Island BC.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Welcome to CPF, isoutar.

    Duplication of posts is not permitted, so I have deleted the identical post you made in the other thread.
    Resistance is futile...

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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Once I learned about NiFe I thought they were great. The only thing is they have a lower power to weight and power to volume ratio. So you need to be able to support the weight of the battery bank (not a big issue in a building) and have room for the larger volume (more of a generalized issue).

    Otherwise with nearly 100% discharge capabilities with no damage in any term and their life span they are great.
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    One thing that can be said about nickel, we'll never ever run out of it; half the molten rock inside the earth is nickel-based.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Interesting stuff. I despise SLA batteries, because of their fragility; they need constant topping-up, are damaged when discharged to empty, and still like to die within a few years even when kept charged, as in uninterruptible power supplies. NiFe sounds like a good replacement for SLA in this application.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    One thing that can be said about nickel, we'll never ever run out of it; half the molten rock inside the earth is nickel-based.
    And the other half.... is iron

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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    To the OP where did you get your nickel iron batteries?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Advertisement

    $1000 for a 12v 122ah battery that weighs 143lbs dry???

    2 Energizer GC2 6v 200ah Lead batteries cost <$200. SamsClub/Costco... have these golf cart batteries.

    I guess with the movement toward solar/wind energy, we'll definitely need idiot proof batteries. The only benefit that I see is that you can't screw up with them. Great for stupid users!

    I had some car batteries last 10 years in a pretty tough underhood environment. I'd expect that they'd last longer in a better situation. So, whether I replace my batteries every 10 years, or get a 50yr battery, when comparing the cost, makes no difference to me in my lifetime.

    I'm all for protecting the environment but think that the amount of lead recycling is understated. I find that many batteries just aren't recycled so that is where the 3% lost lead is. I've actually picked up broken batteries off the road, in the garbage, on abandoned property, forgotten in garages/basements... and dropped them off at the battery recycler. I think that the 3% of unrecycled lead is 'waiting' to be recycled somewhere.

    If you want to sell us these batteries, use this forum:
    http://www.cpfmarketplace.com/mp/index.php?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    I am starting to see nickel iron batteries sell in two markets ... scientific applications such as remote observatories and also for homes. In both situations the cost is not so much of an issue as is hte cost of replacing and recycling 500 kilograms of lead batteries every 5 to 8 years. Most solar homes are forced to abuse lead acid batteries and the batteries have a short life. The cost of moving 500 kg of batteries out and 500 kg of new ones back in at regular intervals represents a big cost. In the case of remote observatories the cost can be as high as 250,000 dollars or more for helicopter rental.

    In my opinion the only reason that lead acid batteries exist is because of our "throw away" society habit. For many people they will compare only the price at purchase time and ignore all other costs ... but I am not such a person.

    In my solar home I am using 200 Ah of NiFe battery, 700 watts of solar panels and I am building LED lights that have a 20 year lifespan or more and use 1/7th the power of incandescent lights. This is all done with DC ... and the nickel iron batteries that I drive hard ... charge at 36.1 volts and discharge to 20 volts. The LEDs are driven with a constant current ballast ... so that the lights remain constant brightness from 40 volts to 20 volts. So the whole system is designed to last the rest of my life. When trying to protect the earth this is the way to design things.

    Energy Efficient Clothes Dryer Project
    My other project is an energy efficient clothes dryer based on DC fans and the heat from the hot water tank. Just like in the UK, I am building a drying cupboard but with some improvements. It has a fan that blows air into the cupboard and there are two output vents ... one goes outside and the other goes upstairs where we need some extra humidity because of the wood stove that heats our house. The clothes are hung on hangers just like in a cupboard.

    Later when I add solar hot water it will mean that the clothes dryer becomes solar!

    I strongly believe that it is incorrect to simply try to add solar power to existing energy hungry devices. It will be more successful to re-design the appliances so that we can point the way to a better lifestyle. This lifestyle will make solar energy to easily run a house.

    Ian Soutar
    Vancouver Island.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Good posts!
    NiFe is not very well known by common people, although it should be.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Nickel iron batteries are indeed extremely durable and abuse resistant, and can be recomended were a long reliable life is more important than least first cost.
    However they have a major drawback, other than high initial cost.
    The voltage variation between full charge and nearly discharged is too high for many applications.
    For a nominal 12 volt system, 10 cells each of 1.2 volts might be selected.
    At end of discharge, the voltage would drop to about 9 volts, this is too low for most lamps, inverters and other appliances designed for a nominal 12 volt system. If the discharge was halted at 11 volts, then a fair bit of the expensive battery capacity is unused.
    To fully charge a 10 cell nickel iron battery requires as much as 17 volts, that is far to high for most lamps, inverters and other appliances designed for 12 volts nominal.
    A 12 volt lead acid battery would normally be between 11.5 volts and 14.4 volts, a much smaller range.

    The widely varying voltage complicates the systen design significantly.
    Although the cells are resistant to overcharge, some regulation or control is desireable, and the charge comtroller will be non standard.

    If line voltage is required, the inverter will have to be a special since regular types wont work with such a range of input voltage.

    Most types of 12 volt lamp are primarily intended for vehicle use and will give a very poor light at 9 volts, and have a very short life at 17 volts.
    For off grid homes, or emergencies, 12 volt appliances intended for vehicle use can be very useful, but not from a nickel iron battery.
    One could of course use say a 20 cell battery, and a switched mode regulator to give a steady 13.8 volts into the load, that would work well but adds cost and something to go wrong.

    Alternatively, if only lighting is required, then one could use regulated LED lamps, as posted above. That would work fine, but is restricting as regards use of other loads.

    For long term use, a nickel iron battery, charged by PV, and lighting regulated LED lamps, should last a lifetime as posted above.
    Last edited by broadgage; 09-22-2010 at 07:14 AM. Reason: typo

  12. #12

    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Quote Originally Posted by isoutar View Post
    I am reposting this is a better area of the forum.
    I consider any article that only promotes the positive aspects of a technology and does not consider the negative aspects to be either a) Propaganda or b) Sales Material

    So, I will take the WHY NOT side of Nickel Iron:

    1) Comparatively terrible charge/discharge efficiency. Currently best case 80%, but typically in the 65% range. That is a major hit on the solar house side. Good quality AGM batteries hit 90%+ efficiency (with Lithium chemistries 90+).

    2) Poor low temperature performance.

    3) High internal resistance / poor high rate performance. This often results in requiring a larger battery bank to meet high load requirements.

    4) Typically not maintenance free (but neither are the longest life lead ACID). That said, the Nickel Iron does take more maintenance.

    5) Currently expensive (maybe volume can fix that?)

    6) So so energy density and as above, poor power density.


    Nickel Iron does not have infinite deep discharge. 2000-3000 cycles is what I typically see quoted. This is very good, but not infinite. That said, an electrolyte recharge can recover capacity so that is quite interesting. They have great float capacity.

    http://nickel-iron-batteries.com/comparisons.htm ... is full of errors .... let's look at some of the errors:


    * A Nickel-Iron cell can last well over 20 years in robust service if properly maintained. Lead-Acid cells are lucky to last 15 years in light duty.

    - Expensive Lead-Acid batteries last 10 years in fairly heavy service ... and they are still cheaper than Nickel Iron

    * Nickel-Iron cells wont sulphate if left in a discharged state, unlike Lead-Acid cells.
    - This is true, but since this site is heavily focused on Solar, when is a battery in a solar system ever left discharged for any length of time?

    * Nickel-Iron cells have a wider operating temperature range than Lead-Acid cells.
    - What??? AGM lead acid batteries are good to -40C well beyond the useful temp of Nickel Iron.

    * Nickel-Iron cells have a higher self discharge rate of up to 40% a month compared to Lead-Acid of 5% a month and Nickel-Cadmium of between 2 and 20% a month.
    - Good quality lead acid are closer to 2% per month but not important


    * Over charging will not cause damage to Nickel-Iron cells. Unlike Lead-Acid cells.
    - In this day of good quality chargers, especially for solar systems, overcharging does not happen.

    * Amp hour capacity for Nickel-Iron cells is rated over 5 hours rather than 100 or 120 hours for Lead-Acid cells. If Nickel-Iron cells are rated over 100 hours they would measure around a 20% increase in capacity. If any battery type is discharged slowly it gives up more amps than if it is discharged quickly.
    - Lead Acid batteries for solar systems are typically shown at C/10 if not C/20 rates worst case. For Solar, a C/100 rate is also provided as this is common in solar. That said, Lead-Acid has lower internal resistance hence is better at high discharge.
    - There are so few commercial Nickel Iron batteries on the market (almost none) that making a blanket statement that Nickel Iron cells are rated at C/5 is completely meaningless

    * Nickel-Iron cells can be fully charged in 5 to 7 hours without harm - unlike Lead-Acid cells. If a generator is used to charge the batteries this can mean less running time.
    - AGM lead ACID can be charged at very high currents, much higher than Nickel Iron. Same for many high quality for solar batteries. Nickel Iron tends to create a lot of hydrogen which one must be careful with.


    * Battery capacities change over time. Brand new Nickel-Iron batteries put straight to hard work in deep discharges have a 20% lower capacity than their rating, increasing rapidly to 100% or better (in a month or so) then gradually reduce in capacity over the years to stabilize at over 70% of rated capacity. Lead-Acid batteries tend to have a lower capacity when new, increase for a few months then decrease slowly but continuously for the rest of their life.
    - Nope, Nickel Iron degrade too unless the electrolyte is recharged


    * With Nickel-Iron cells the full available capacity can be utilised when calculating battery size for solar systems. After years of use available capacity should stabilise at about 70-80% of rated capacity. Lead-Acid batteries are always over sized in solar systems usually by 2 to 5 times to avoid deep discharging.
    - Actually batteries for solar systems are sized for 5-10 days of storage and when dealing with Lead-Acid, typically a 20% reserve is kept for deep discharge knowing that in reality, this should rarely be tapped. No one over sizes by 5 times to avoid deep discharge. 50% over sizing I have seen occur but never for home systems where "must have" power is needed. It is more for convenience systems.


    * The charge pattern of solar panels matches perfectly with the charge pattern of Nickel-Iron cells. Because of this Nickel-Iron cells can be used in a solar system without a charge regulator. All Lead-Acid cells used in a solar system should be charged through a charge regulator to avoid damage through over charging.
    - Ya right! Of course you need a charge regulator to match panel to battery voltage. ESPECIALLY with Nickel Iron batteries where you already have very poor charge/discharge efficiency. In fact you really need an MPPT controller to maximize the charge efficiency. Nickel Iron has a very wide operating voltage range that needs to be matched for any tolerable efficiency.


    I am not saying Nickel Iron does not have potential, but I hate misinformation!


    Semiman
    Last edited by SemiMan; 09-27-2010 at 06:11 AM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Canuke View Post
    Interesting stuff. I despise SLA batteries, because of their fragility; they need constant topping-up, are damaged when discharged to empty, and still like to die within a few years even when kept charged, as in uninterruptible power supplies. NiFe sounds like a good replacement for SLA in this application.
    SLA Is sealed lead acid. They do not require topping up.

    I suggest buying good quality AGM batteries designed for high cycle life. Float life of 15 years is not uncommon.

    Semiman

  14. #14

    Smile Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    I have had great luck with Nickel Iron Batteries and solar voltaic panels. There are 700 watts of solar panels on my roof and 22 200 amp hour nickel iron batteries in the garden shed. They are visible on the nickel iron battery association page ...

    http://www.nickel-iron-battery.com

    The house is now fully high powered warm white LED lit. The constant current regulators used for LEDs are available with an input voltage range for my system of 40 volts to 20 volts and there is no change in brightness. It is a great lighting system.

    The NiFe batteries range from 36.4 volts during an equalization down to 20 volts which is the lowest I discharge them.

    I am forever grateful that I never played with lead acid batteries and their short life and fancy dance that you have to do in order to prevent their destruction. The NiFe batteries I have overchaged for weeks sometimes or put loads on them and just drained them down to zero volts. Never a problem!

    Solution for Inverters and NiFe
    Some people claim that inverters do not work with NiFe batteries but that is because the inverters were designed for lead acid batteries ... of course they do not work right. The secret is to get KiPoint of Taiwan to custom make your inverters to cover the range you need. In my case (a 26.4 volt NiFe system) I simply specify the range that I need it to work at of 37 volts to 20 volts. You need to use an inverter that is designed for these batteries, or more accurately this is the better solution.

    I would love to get feedback from others that are using Nickel Iron Battteries in their house?

    Ian Soutar
    Victoria BC Canada

  15. #15

    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Quote Originally Posted by isoutar View Post
    I am forever grateful that I never played with lead acid batteries and their short life and fancy dance that you have to do in order to prevent their destruction. The NiFe batteries I have overchaged for weeks sometimes or put loads on them and just drained them down to zero volts. Never a problem!
    Not sure what this fancy dance is. With Solar they are charged every day so even if they run down it is not the end of the world. Given you have 700watt of panel to 4400AH of battery, you have sized for long term storage. Given that case you are not going to run a lead-acid down. Since you have thousands of dollars of batteries, a $400-500 charge controller which will never cause hard to your lead-acid batteries is not unreasonable.

    I am glad the Nickel-Iron works, they are just not the panacea you make them out to be. Chief issue being the poor efficiency and so so cold temp and high discharge.

    Semiman

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    That is what I figured too. No fancy dancy here. Just a little common sense.

    Why would you run a battery down to "0"?

    You size your panels, generator, wind or water turbine, battery capacity, battery....... for your usage.

    If you run a battery down completely, either you don't have enough battery, or enough charging capability. Pretty simple to figure out.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Nickel Iron sounds great but the prices are more than decent panels these days.

    I can get a sharp 2kW amorphous panel system, golf cart SLA's, charge controller, a 1kW wind mill and a dc led lighting system for less than what you have to pay for these NiFe batteries.

    Then the highest quality panels are only rated for thirty years!
    The batteries will wear out in like twenty with trickle charging.
    The wind mill will require servicing in 20 years.
    Led's will have to be replaced after 30 years.

    We have to face it and everything will wear out and have to be replaced and or serviced. You have to replace and service everything else besides the NiFe batteries but what time and money are you saving? The environment is something to look after for but there is always going to be cigarettes on the side of the road and 50gal tanks are always going to be full but we have to minimize or revamp our habits.

    Then for the comment on having to redesign appliances as we slowly change is great to point out.

    The price needs to go down because a RICHER is the last person to think about the environment. With these prices you can save more money in using a hydrogen fuel cell...

    Also what are the specs on your batteries like weight and are they acceptable to 140+F?

    Interesting stuff and its always interesting to find out what has died for business interests.
    "When you do something right, no one remembers. When you do something wrong, no one forgets."
    Edison was right with dc all along...

  18. #18

    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    pics of yr home, filled with solar panels and batteries would be a nice view

    care to post some pics for us to drool ....

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Quote Originally Posted by roadie View Post
    pics of yr home, filled with solar panels and batteries would be a nice view

    care to post some pics for us to drool ....
    +1k as this would be great as I always like to see how differently people set their projects up. Please could someone post pics as this would be greatly appreciated.
    "When you do something right, no one remembers. When you do something wrong, no one forgets."
    Edison was right with dc all along...

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Well, the home page linked to above says they "will not be restocking or importing Nickel-Iron cells ... low volume of sales .... factors such as ... mixing of electrolyte/filling/cycling the cells, ... and the high cost of transport were also contributing factors. We are more than happy with the performance of the batteries and encourage you to look for other sources."

    Anyone asked at DealExtreme?

  21. #21

    Default Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes with Pictures

    Here is my solar home ... the Nickel Iron Batteries run high intensity LED lighting throughout the house. Lots of power left over for an inverter that is on order to do the refrigerator.

    For those looking for an ideal inverter for NiFe batteries ... KiPoint of Taiwan will customize inverters. The one on order works from 37 volts down to 20 volts and put out the required 120 VAC.

    Here are the pictures on the http://www.nickel-iron-battery.com ... that is my house and power storage shed with NiFe Cells.

    Ian Soutar

  22. #22

    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Quote Originally Posted by hank View Post
    Well, the home page linked to above says they "will not be restocking or importing Nickel-Iron cells ... low volume of sales ....
    Yup, that's always been the problem with NiFe. They're too good, they last too long, so you sell fewer of them.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes with Pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by isoutar View Post
    Here is my solar home ... the Nickel Iron Batteries run high intensity LED lighting throughout the house. Lots of power left over for an inverter that is on order to do the refrigerator.

    ................................. http://www.nickel-iron-battery.com ...............
    nice big panels u got there ....

    i also see, u sell the 1.2v 10 amp battery => nice .....

  24. #24
    Flashaholic* hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Yep -- that offer

    "Small Sized NiFe Samples 10AH @ 1.2 volts (for Educational and Industrial Battery Researchers)
    Newly manufactured samples of nickel iron cells nominally 1.2 (one point two volts) .... Charging and maintenance instructions shipped with each and technical assistance is available. For those that want to mix their own electrolyte the charge is $40."

    ought to interest folks here in the fixed lighting thread.

    [Are these the Edison design (open, bubbles out hydrogen), or the "... 2005 ... Sealed Nickel Iron Battery Design" mentioned on your web page? The sealed type would be most interesting for home users. (Does the sealed design recombine the hydrogen and oxygen?)]

    EDIT -- oops, nevermind, I found and read the 2005 paper -- they weren't just using the commercial catalysts made for sealed lead-acid, they created their own catalyst (drastic high temperature chemistry described). They did use their catalyst successfully to recombine the hydrogen and oxygen inside the sealed container successfully. Has anyone followed up on their design?

    I see why you have your batteries in an outdoor open shed.
    I hope you'll say more about your home LED lights.

    Are any of the hobby-type battery chargers people at CPF use* capable of charging these? (I read the caution earlier on your page)
    "Nickel-iron cells should not be charged from a constant voltage supply since they can be damaged by thermal runaway; the cell internal voltage drops as gassing begins, raising temperature, which increases current drawn and so further increases gassing and temperature...."
    ___________
    * http://www.google.com/search?q=site%...+hobby+charger
    Last edited by hank; 10-08-2010 at 03:23 PM. Reason: answers found

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    I find claims they're only made in one place, but the place identified varies. One site says they're now made in the US.

    Here's a site talking about homebuilding them:

    http://sustainabledesignupdate.com/t...-iron-battery/

    "The engineers working on our NiFe Battery are a Capstone Engineering design team from Michigan State University. The team has made several prototypes and is making up a “cook book” on how to make your own batteries."

    (Just a hopeful note so far -- the cookbook doesn't appear to be there yet)

    ------

    Yipes. I did another search in Google -- and they had indexed this post within sixty seconds of the time I posted it.
    Last edited by hank; 10-08-2010 at 05:24 PM.

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    One site has this caution:
    http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_types.htm

    "NiFe (Nickel Iron) Energy storage density = 55 watts per kilogram
    Alkaline-type electric cells using potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte and anodes of steel wool substrate with active iron material and cathodes of nickel plated steel wool substrate with active nickel material. This is the original "Edison Cell". Very long life.

    "...Our experience with customers using alkaline batteries in stand alone AE systems suggests that they may have as many drawbacks as advantages when compared to lead-acid type batteries. We suggest that potential alkaline users evaluate the economics and performance claims carefully to determine the suitability of any battery being considered..." Christopher Freitas Xantrex
    [more discussion at the link]

    Most of the discussion will be familiar to CPF folks and the downsides are mostly power regulation and losses, which would trade off against having to replace the whole system more often with lead cells. Me, I'd go with long lifetime cells, I think.

    Lots of sites think they know there's only one place making NiFe cells, like this one -- this one thinks it's Hungary. Others have other ideas. So -- dig carefully for info.

    I think the idea of having one or a few to experiment with running LEDs is tempting.

  27. #27

    Red face Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    I should have given the rather amusing reason that the batteries are in the garden shed. That is my wood shed so if you were to look the other way in the shed it would be all wood. They are in the garden shed to "harvest" the bit of heat from charging. This keeps the wood bone dry.

    We may live in downtown Victoria but we heat with wood and this year the wood is substantially drier and easier if it comes from the shed. i have the same wood stored under my back porch ... out of the rain and it has air circulation too but that wood is not as dry.

    In a similar vein a friend of mine uses a hydrogen fuel cell stack running a heat pump to heat part of his house in Victoria. Fuel cell stacks are notoriously inefficient ... about 40% or more is lost as heat. In his house the fuel cell stack has a fan behind it so he can harvest the heat. Thus the heating system is 100% efficient. I guess in a similar way with fuel cell cars this "waste" heat can drive the air conditioner directly.

    Perhaps this is a good way to use energy technology ... to try to harves the heat.

    For those into lighting the ledsupply.com and other suppliers of LEDs now offer Enstar tripple LED arrays in Warm White. They are very beautiful and we are liking lighing in the house more than incandescent even. They are slightly warm and pinkish ... a cozy colour that is great for reading under.

    Ian Soutar
    Victoria BC

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    Ian, I appreciate the info. I've got an old friend who has been living on solar power for decades and is about to replace a lot of lead-acid cells, so I'm going to poke at this topic and see what else turns up.

    Here's a new battery (I know nothing about it, Google turned this up today)

    http://www.tepia.jp/archive/10th/main_e/zone3e.html

    Development of Alkaline Storage Battery
    New Electricity Storage Battery
    The nickel iron battery HER 60-10 is a new battery developed in cooperation with Kansai Electric Power (Kansai Denryoku) for electric cars.
    Furukawa Battery

  29. #29

    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    err if i am staying where u guys are, and rich enough to own a land and hse,

    i will built a rocket stove to heat my hse, and attach a stirling engine to create some electric to charge some batteries

  30. #30

    Default Re: Nickel Iron Batteries Ideal for Solar Homes

    WOW!

    I was blown away by how expensive these are!

    Is that because of the low volume manufacturing or are they difficult to manufacture? The materials are all common so I would expect they could be made inexpensively.

    Any idea if there are any valve regulated designs? They seem to out gas a lot so that would be difficult.

    Semiman

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