Nickel-Iron Battery

From Open Source Ecology
Jump to: navigation, search

Nickel-Iron Battery
   Home  |  Research & Development  |  Bill of Materials  |  Manufacturing Instructions  |  User's Manual  |  User Reviews    Nickel-Iron Battery.png


Nickel Iron Battery

The Nickel Iron Battery is the only known lifetime design battery. These last 100 years, such as the Edison batteries unearthed after a century that work like new. Thus, it is the primary electrical energy storage device for the GVCS, outside of indirect sources such as Compressed Air Energy Storage, water Gravity Storage, and storage of energy via Hydrogen Production.


  • Long lifetime of 50 years
  • Open source design of electrodes
  • Cells scalable: from 1 to 50kW hrs
  • Nickel and iron obtained from scrap stream, reprocessed via Induction Furnace
  • Completely closed loop material cycle ecology

Detailed Description

The nickel-iron battery (NiFe battery) or "edison cell" is a storage battery having a nickel oxide-hydroxide cathode and an iron anode, with an electrolyte of potassium hydroxide (lye can be used as a substitute).

The active materials are held in nickel-plated steel tubes or perforated pockets.

It is a very robust battery which is tolerant of abuse, (overcharge, overdischarge, and short-circuiting) and can have very long life even if so treated.

It is often used in backup situations where it can be continuously charged and can last for more than 20 years.

Nickel-iron batteries have ~50 year lifetimes, compared to a few-year lifetime of lead acid batteries. They are environmentally more benign, and lend themselves to local recycling and fabrication. They can have higher discharge rates and faster charge times than lead-acid batteries depending on mechanical design of the electrodes etc, so they lend themselves not only to off-grid power, but also to power electronics applications such as welding and heavy workshop power. In China a company by the name of changhong batteries makes a version of them for use in automotive starter batteries. Their energy density is half that of lead-acid batteries, but their long lifetime and deep discharge ability makes them highly relevant to the GVCS, including to electric farming equipment as the next generation of LifeTrac infrastructure.

The Edison Battery was developed and promoted primarily by Thomas A Edison.

Product Ecology

Product Ecology
Battery Battery
From Uses Creates Enables



Anode Compound

node Construction

  • plain plate (demo)
  • pocket plate with mesh inserts (Edison)

Cathode Compounds

  • nickel hydrate and pure nickel flake (Edison)

Nickel(II) carbonate can be combined with water to form Nickel(II) oxide, which can be used in cells. It generates Carbon Dioxide when mixed with water, which may affect Potassium Hydroxide in solution. Mix with water and allow to complete outgassing and dry before building the cell.

Nickel(III) hydroxide "Nickel Oxide Black" and Nickel(II) carbonate "Green" are used as clay/ceramic colorants and available cheaply from ceramic and pottery related websites ... and though the purity is considered lower, it is still usuable for experimentation at a much lower cost.

Cathode Construction

  • plain plate (demo)
  • pocket plate with mesh inserts (Edison)
  • generally nickel-plated rather than pure nickel
  • Nickel sponge
  • Sintered nickel powder
  • Nickel mesh/cloth


  • aqueous potassium hydroxide
  • link
  • Water (121g per 100ml)
  • sodium hydroxide (alternate, lower voltage)
  • lithium (modern additive)

Cell Casing

  • nickel-plated steel box, rubber seals (Edison)
  • plastic box (modern commercial)
  • glass jars (demo projects)
  • pvc cylinders (Ed's Workshop)


The Nickel-Iron Battery is currently in the research phase of development.

See Also

Other Communities

Off-the-Shelf Cost

  • $4k for a 4.3kWhr usable capacity battery - see [1].
  • Note that if this is authentically 4.3kW and it lasts 30years - then this is 1/2 the cost of a 24kWhr $4k forklift battery. A forklift battery will last 5 years [2] - so this is 1/6 the length of the NiFe lifetime - or equivalent 4kW over the same time period. However, the link above says that electrolyte replacement at 30 years gets you another 30 years. If that is true, then we have 60 years life - and 1/2 the cost of lead acid batteries.
  • Disadvantage is slow discharge at C/2 rate max. For a 100A bat at 48V, that is 2400W. Plenty.
  • Summary - the up-front cost is steep - but lifetime considerations make this a very attractive offer.
  • Once open sourced, cost should go down 2x-5x still.
  • If we use Lead Acid for long life - 10% DoD - 2.4kW - for 20 year life - that is 3x more expensive than Nickel-Iron batteries over a 30 year life, and 6x more expensive over a 60 year life.


The Global Village Construction Set
Habitat CEB Press Cement Mixer Sawmill Bulldozer Backhoe
Agriculture Tractor Seeder Hay Rake Well-Drilling Rig
Microtractor Soil Pulverizer Spader Hay Cutter Trencher
Bakery Oven Dairy Milker Microcombine Baler
Industry Multimachine Ironworker Laser Cutter Welder Plasma Cutter
CNC Torch Table Metal Roller Rod and Wire Mill Press Forge Universal Rotor
3D Printer 3D Scanner CNC Circuit Mill Industrial Robot Chipper Hammermill
Drill Press Induction Furnace
Energy Power Cube Gasifier Burner Solar Concentrator Electric Motor Generator Hydraulic Motor
Steam Engine Heat Exchanger Wind Turbine Pelletizer Universal Power Supply
Nickel-Iron Battery
Materials Aluminum Extractor Bioplastic Extruder
Transportation Car Truck

Imprimante 3D Scanner 3D Extracteur d'Aluminum Pelleteuse Four à Pain Presse à balles de paille Extrudeuse à bioplastiques Bulldozer Voiture Presse BTC Betonnière Broyeur à marteaux Imprimante de circuits électroniques Table de découpe numérique Trayeuse Perçeuse à colonne Moteur électrique Gazogène Faucheuse Râteau à foin Moteur hydraulique Fourneau à induction Bras robotisé Poinçonneuse Découpeur Laser Laminoir à plaques Microcombine Microtracteur Multimachine Batterie Ni-Fe Machine à granulés Torche plasma Power Cube Presse hydraulique Laminoir à barres et fils de fer Pulvérisateur de terre Scierie Semoir Concentrateur solaire Roto-bêche Moteur à vapeur Echangeur de chaleur Tracteur Fraiseuse de tranchée Camion Alimentation électrique universelle Rotor universel Poste de soudure à l'arc Plateforme de forage de puits Eolienne

Key Design Planning Prototype Almost done Full Release