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    • CommentAuthorsonoboy
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013 edited
     
    I know I've mentioned it before but I'm just amazed at the ability of NiFe batteries to never die. I have many KWH of these batteries, some ~ 70 years old and they just keep going strong. I got mine well used and abused from years of heavy duty forklift usage and it matters not, as they seem about as good as the day they were made. I just put together a 70 yo 5 KWH 12V pack that has a Potash electrolyte I mixed up a couple years ago (a little on the weak side too). It is for an off grid solar application. I used this charged pack over the weekend to operate a 1500 W Microwave for several minutes (min of 125 amps) and then went outside and used a 600 watt grinder for 15 minutes to cut through a mess of 3/8 bolts. The lights in the shop never even dimmed. It would not surprise me if these batteries were to last literally 200 years with reasonable maintenance. They are larger than lead acid for the same AH, but not grossly so and actually have a lot of extra room in them above the plates, much more so than really needed. Each one of these particular ~450 Ah 1.2 v cells are 5 inches square and ~ 17 inches tall not including posts or filler cap / valve. You can overcharge them, undercharge them, short circuit them, reverse charge them etc. About the only way to kill them is to run them over with a bulldozer.
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      CommentAuthorlegendre
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    I've no experience with nickel-iron batteries.. so what are the failure modes, and what ultimately sends them to the scrap?

    Can some types be perpetually serviced - refurbing and replacing plates, etc? How often do you change out the electrolyte?

    I suppose they used this type in old diesel-electric submarines, eh. I should look that up..
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      CommentAuthorlegendre
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013 edited
     
    Why am I even remotely surprised to find nickel-iron-battery.com with a quick search?

    Oh me, oh my! According to the site, there's a Nickel-Iron Battery Association as well..

    Wow.
    • CommentAuthorsonoboy
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Posted By: legendreI've no experience with nickel-iron batteries.. so what are the failure modes, and what ultimately sends them to the scrap?

    Can some types be perpetually serviced - refurbing and replacing plates, etc? How often do you change out the electrolyte?

    I suppose they used this type in old diesel-electric submarines, eh. I should look that up..


    What generally happens is that they become carbon bound. The potassium Hydroxide loves to suck carbon out of the air and deposit it on the plates. When the carbon builds up enough it will fall to the bottom and short the cell out to one degree or another. When I 'refurbished' mine I simply dumped out the old electrolyte while stopping several times to smack and shake them. What came out was in most of the cells a black and brown slop. I let the shit settle to the bottom of the plastic barrel a couple days and then scooped out the clear stuff and added fresh potash and distilled water to an acceptable concentration. Some of the extra bad cells got a rinse first.
    To help keep the carbon from forming you simply float a 1/4 inch layer of mineral oil on top of the electrolyte. Many people don't do that. Anyways, if you float oil in them you can get 10 or 20 years life before you need to redo the electrolyte. The guy I got the cells from was something of an expert on them and told me that there was generally no reason to throw out the old electrolyte, just clean it up and add new to it as needed.
    Most applications were Forklift / lift truck and Railroad signaling.
    • CommentAuthorAsterix
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Are there currently any NiFe battery makers still around? The last time I looked, NiFe batteries were pretty expensive and hard to get hold of.

    The energy density is pretty bad, but yeah, I think Jay Leno's Baker Electric still uses its original batteries--and that's over a century.
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      CommentAuthormaryyugo
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013 edited
     
    Posted By: sonoboyWhen I 'refurbished' mine I simply dumped out the old electrolyte while stopping several times to smack and shake them. What came out was in most of the cells a black and brown slop. I
    With due respect at your courage, you must have an interesting home. Do the neighbors approve? How about the local authorities involved with hazardous wastes?
    • CommentAuthorsonoboy
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Posted By: AsterixAre there currently any NiFe battery makers still around? The last time I looked, NiFe batteries were pretty expensive and hard to get hold of.

    The energy density is pretty bad, but yeah, I think Jay Leno's Baker Electric still uses its original batteries--and that's over a century.


    Mine cost me 10 cents on the dollar vs new but the guy is now out of them. There really is a lot of useless room in the ones I have which adds to their bulk. Probably wanted to make them extra spill-proof. There is a maker in china you can check out following Legendres link. They are not the quality of original Edisons, however.
    • CommentAuthorsonoboy
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013 edited
     
    Posted By: maryyugo
    Posted By: sonoboyWhen I 'refurbished' mine I simply dumped out the old electrolyte while stopping several times to smack and shake them. What came out was in most of the cells a black and brown slop. I
    With due respect at your courage, you must have an interesting home. Do the neighbors approve? How about the local authorities involved with hazardous wastes?


    Anybody can buy the stuff. It is not considered a hazardous waste. Crysakes they sell it for home soap making and home made biodiesel. I needed to dispose of very little electrolyte. Most was recycled.
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      CommentAuthormaryyugo
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Posted By: sonoboyI needed to dispose of very little electrolyte.
    OK. I was thinking of that brown sludge you mentioned. Yum.
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      CommentAuthorlegendre
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Per sono's previous comments, the brown sludge is essentially a mix of carbon (or simple carbon compounds) and acid.
    • CommentAuthorAsterix
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Posted By: sonoboyWhat generally happens is that they become carbon bound. The potassium Hydroxide loves to suck carbon out of the air and deposit it on the plates. When the carbon builds up enough it will fall to the bottom and short the cell out to one degree or another


    That's a little misleading. What the KOH does is combine with the carbon dioxide in the air to form potassium carbonate. Something like:

    2KOH + CO2 -> K2CO3 + H2O

    The brown stuff is likely oxidized iron (rust) in one form or another.

    I'll take KOH anyday as a pollutant in preference to H2SO4. At least I can use the former as fertilizer, particularly in acidic soils. It's also useful when disposing of corpses...
    • CommentAuthorsonoboy
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Posted By: Asterix
    Posted By: sonoboyWhat generally happens is that they become carbon bound. The potassium Hydroxide loves to suck carbon out of the air and deposit it on the plates. When the carbon builds up enough it will fall to the bottom and short the cell out to one degree or another


    That's a little misleading. What the KOH does is combine with the carbon dioxide in the air to form potassium carbonate. Something like:

    2KOH + CO2-> K2CO3+ H2O

    The brown stuff is likely oxidized iron (rust) in one form or another.

    I'll take KOH anyday as a pollutant in preference to H2SO4. At least I can use the former as fertilizer, particularly in acidic soils. It's also useful when disposing of corpses...


    To clarify it is 99 % black crap that comes out and if analyzed would show as carbon and carbon compounds. The brown is most likely rust as it is in essence a 'rust' battery. These batteries are considered very 'green' indeed. Yes, I guess it would dissolve a body quite nicely. A fiend who helped me got a drop of a fresh mix on his thumbnail after pulling off his gloves and it started to turn to jelly in short order.
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Posted By: AsterixI'll take KOH anyday as a pollutant in preference to H2SO4. At least I can use the former as fertilizer, particularly in acidic soils. It's also useful when disposing of corpses...


    To be fair, H2SO4 is pretty good at disposing of organic material as well.
  1.  
    Fiends with thumbnails of jelly....
    now I'm really going to have nightmares.
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      CommentAuthorlegendre
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013 edited
     
    Then it's oxides of iron (probably both black & brown/red), some potassium carbonate and a little potassium hydroxide. All the better.

    Caustic sure, but no environmental hazard if it's diluted and washed down the drain - is there? Not like PCBs or Dioxin.. and I don't give a toss what the People's Republic of California (or the fucking Europeans) say, solid metallic lead is not a hazardous material.
  2.  
    It is if you drop it on your foot.
    • CommentAuthorsonoboy
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Posted By: legendreThen it's oxides of iron (probably both black & brown/red), some potassium carbonate and a little potassium hydroxide. All the better.

    Caustic sure, but no environmental hazard if it's diluted and washed down the drain - is there? Not like PCBs or Dioxin.. and I don't give a toss what the People's Republic of California says, solid metallic lead is not a hazardous material.


    You are correct on the lead. Metallic lead is not a big issue. The Environmental police wanted to shut down a popular gun range near my 'camp' that had seen heavy usage for many many years because it is close to a river. They couldn't do it because the lead levels were actually higher upstream of the range, not downstream showing that the range lead in the ground was stabil.
    • CommentAuthorAsterix
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013 edited
     
    Posted By: sonoboy

    To clarify it is 99 % black crap that comes out and if analyzed would show as carbon and carbon compounds. The brown is most likely rust as it is in essence a 'rust' battery.


    Where does the raw carbon come from? It isn't from atmospheric CO2--there's no way a simple battery is breaking that carbon-oxygen bond. Leftover gunk from manufacturing?
    • CommentAuthorsonoboy
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Posted By: alsetalokinIt is if you drop it on your foot.


    or if 150 grains hit's you at 2800 fps...
    • CommentAuthorsonoboy
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2013
     
    Posted By: Asterix
    Posted By: sonoboy

    To clarify it is 99 % black crap that comes out and if analyzed would show as carbon and carbon compounds. The brown is most likely rust as it is in essence a 'rust' battery.


    Where does the raw carbon come from? It isn't from atmospheric CO2--there's no way a simple battery is breaking that carbon-oxygen bond. Leftover gunk from manufacturing?


    It is atmospheric carbon. Very little forms if the electrolyte has a layer of oil floating on it. It can form very quickly otherwise. There is only one source, CO2 in the air.