Tech talk: NiCd battery is something you should definitely know about

NiCd Batteries

Today, we have quite a few types of batteries if we talk about the materials being used to make them. Automotive batteries are still just reduced to lead-acid type. The advancements in technology, though, has opened up other avenues for us to look at, an example is Lithium Ion batteries being used in cars. NiCd battery or Nickel-Cadmium battery is another such battery type. Here’s all you should know about this type of battery:

What is NiCd battery?
NiCd battery has the same design as a lead-acid battery with the only difference being the materials used for terminals and electrolyte solution. In NiCd batteries, Nickel Hydroxide is used as positive electrode while Cadmium serves as the negative electrode. Both electrodes are dipped in Potassium Hydroxide solution, which acts as the electrolyte. All this is encased in a metal case with a sealing plate, equipped with a safety valve. Both electrodes, isolated by a separator, are rolled in a spiral shape.

How big is the difference?
When comparing batteries of equal size, the difference is not in the amount of current delivered but the duration for which it can be maintained. A Lead-Acid battery of 12V voltage will lose peak voltage with time as it depletes. However, NiCd battery of 12V voltage will continue to dole out 12V until almost discharged. Since the NiCd battery has low voltage per cell, it is offset by using another cell to make up for the difference when compared to a 12V Lead-Acid battery, meaning seven cells instead of six.

Any added benefits?
Apart from delivering steady current for longer time duration, a NiCd battery has low internal resistance, which helps it in discharging electricity quite fast and charging up pretty quickly. The low resistance inside the NiCd battery also ensures that the internal temperature is low, which helps in quick charge and discharge times.

NiCd battery’s use in mass application?
NiCd batteries are being used in power tool applications. Power tools require full power for the entire duration of their use. When used with a Lead Acid battery, the power tools will initially work the way they are intended to and then slowly start losing power until the battery runs out of juice. With a NiCd battery, the power tools can continue to operate at full power until the battery completely runs out of juice.

What about recharging NiCd batteries?
As opposed to Lead-Acid batteries that need to be charged with varying amount of amperage and voltage, there is no such issue with NiCd batteries. Also, NiCd batteries absorb heat while recharging, which speeds up the entire process. Lastly, an NiCd battery can be charged above its maximum capacity without significantly impacting its lifespan (the reason behind their use in power tools).

Any downsides to an NiCd battery?
Storing an NiCd battery for a long time can be a hassle as they need to be used occasionally. If they are stored for long, they form cadmium dendrites which act as bridges between electrodes and cause the battery to short-circuit when put to use.

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