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Rejuvenating Edison Flooded Nickel-Cadmium ED-160's and ED-240's

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  • Rejuvenating Edison Flooded Nickel-Cadmium ED-160's and ED-240's

    I have a bunch of Edison NiCad cells I recently picked up. After filtering through them, I have the ten best ones in use on my solar system. I absolutely love the performance over the Lead-Acid cells I replaced these with. However, the dates on the 50+ cells I have range from '76 to '82. That makes these things quite old and I know the electrolyte has never been replaced. Flushing out the inside of the cells with distilled water and putting in fresh distilled water + Potassium Hydroxide is the best shot to bring some of the weak ones back. Do I expect miracles and all to work perfectly, of course not, some are a lost cause. But there will be a measurable improvement to their performance and it will lengthen their lives considerably.

    As for charging, my charge controller has reprogrammable limits for maximum and minimum voltages and all other parameters. I reprogrammed it for NiCad tech.

    I have been attempting to find any documentation on these, and there's little information on the internet. Edison's battery division going bust in '82 basically means all documentation available pre-dates the internet. I'm only able to find the occasional unicorn of a manual to appear on ebay.

    The two big questions that I'm hoping some people here can help me with that I have been unable to source from the totality of the internet:

    1.) What ratio of Potassium-Hydroxide flakes to distilled water should I use for these cells for optimum performance?

    2.) Where can I get the appropriate battery oil for these cells for on top of the electrolyte?

    The battery oil is optional, but recommended for cell longevity. It protects the water from evaporation (does not protect from the electrolysis breaking down the H2O into hydrogen and oxygen during charging), and protects the cadmium in the plates from carbon dioxide poisoning which is apparently what causes long term damage to flooded NiCads. It basically will give me another decade or two out of these if one treats them right. Not any oil will be optimum, I read "Type 22 battery oil" is what I need and will have the right chemical characteristics to survive the alkaline and the right viscosity so that when hydrogen and oxygen bubbles travel through it to be vented out the vent cap it won't splatter too much inside of the cells and maintain it's surface seal.

    Anyone get deep into rejuvenating these types of cells?

    Last edited by JustinBailey; 04-05-2016, 05:05 PM.

  • #2
    This old 1914 Edison manual is on Iron Edison's page. May be interesting if nothing else. I wonder if the folks at Iron Edison could help you. https://ironedison.com/images/Spec%2...20Practice.pdf
    Last edited by Amy@altE; 04-04-2016, 02:40 PM.
    Solar Queen
    altE Store

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    • #3
      This Home Power magazines from the 1980s and 1990s have some good information, especially this one https://ia800503.us.archive.org/29/i...gazine_015.pdf See the article starting on page 19.

      If you do replace the electrolyte I would be careful about how you dispose of the old electrolyte especially if it has any sludge in it as this will have Cadmium in it.

      Simon

      Off grid 24V system, 6x190W Solar Panels, 32x90ah Winston LiFeYPO4 batteries installed April 2013
      BMS - Homemade Battery logger https://github.com/simat/BatteryMonitor
      Latronics 4kW Inverter, homemade MPPT controller
      Off-Grid LFP(LiFePO4) system since April 2013

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      • #4
        You are typing Ni-Cad batteries. Nickel - Cadmium. Very poisonous, and all parts and used electrolyte are highly toxic.

        Edison was developing Nickel - IRON batteries, same electrolyte, but not nearly as toxic. Could you verify which you are using ?
        Last edited by Mike90250; 04-05-2016, 12:40 AM. Reason: typo
        Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
        || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
        || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

        solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
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        • #5
          Which is it NiCd or NiFe?

          Me thinks what you have by the dates are NiCd. Edison Battery Company quit making NiFe batteries in 1972, and sold the company to Exide in 1973. Exide discontinued making NiFe batteries in 1975. [U]No one to my knowledge made NiFe batteries from 1975 to 1978[/U]. Chi-Coms and Ruskies started manufacturing NiFe in the mid to late 80's after the patent expired. So if your date of manufacture ranges from 1975 to 1982 suggest they are NiCd.
          Last edited by Sunking; 04-05-2016, 11:07 AM.
          MSEE, PE

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          • #6
            [B]Amy@altE[/B], thanks for that link. I'm getting a lot of documents together and learning a lot. Every file and link helps.

            [B]karrak[/B], I plan to properly dispose of the waste. I'm running off of solar power for gosh sake, I certainly won't just dump this crap down the toilet. There's some place out there that will take the waste and know what to do with it. I'll find them. I have a bunch of 5-gal buckets with tough seals for storage in the mean time.

            [B][B][COLOR=brown]Mike90250[/COLOR][/B][/B] & [B]Sunking[/B], Yes, definitely Nickel-Cadmium Edisons. I've attached pictures so you can see these beasts for yourself. I believe the ED-160's came from a forklift. The ED-240's probably from some backup system, probably railroad. These came from a hoarder's house who partly hoarded off grid technology so they were stored indoors most of their life but never put to use after being retired from their original sources.

            Does anyone have any Edison manuals on these? If you have them in printed form only, and only one copy and no flatbed scanner, I can possibly work with you on making some public documents available.

            Bailey
            Edisons1.jpg Edisons2.jpg

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JustinBailey View Post
              [B][B][COLOR=brown]Mike90250[/COLOR][/B][/B] & [B]Sunking[/B], Yes, definitely Nickel-Cadmium Edisons.
              I was pretty sure they were NiCAd. The info Amy does not apply. If you are in the USA, do not let any government agency know you have them (especially the employment prevention agency) If you do, you are on the hook for disposal. There is no place in the USA to dispose of them. They have to be shipped to Canada for disposal at your expense. That is why you got them so cheap.

              Nice boat anchors by the way.
              Last edited by Sunking; 04-05-2016, 05:34 PM.
              MSEE, PE

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sunking View Post
                I was pretty sure they were NiCAd. The info Amy does not apply. If you are in the USA, do not let any government agency know you have them (especially the employment prevention agency) If you do, you are on the hook for disposal. There is no place in the USA to dispose of them. They have to be shipped to Canada for disposal at your expense. That is why you got them so cheap.

                Nice boat anchors by the way.
                If you're using lead-acid or some lithium ion tech or variant, don't throw stones from your glass house. Don't you have to recycle the *whole thing* every ten years or so, especially if it's completely sealed.

                I just called my local recycling center. The supervisor there told me he'd take the KOH waste as if it were a bunch of Ni-Cd AA's (which is basically what it is) as long as I properly seal it. I happen to have a bunch of 5-gal buckets with neoprene gaskets on the lids I was going to use for a hydroponics project that I never got around to. Just drop it off, sign some papers, and head home. There, last problem solved. Recycling centers have gotten very smart these days, charge someone $1 to dispose of their old CRT television, it'll be at the end of a logging road. Take it for free as e-waste, everyone has no problem driving it there to get rid of it. Basic human psychology. There's a system for disposing of NiCd cells from the consumer market, makes perfect sense these can just go on the same conveyor belt for waste processing.

                And don't get too hung up on spelling the elements correctly, you'll, elementally, sound like a spell-checking step-mother.

                Bailey

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                • #9
                  Big difference between AA and wet NiCd storage batteries. They were banned back in the 90'S. The electrolyte is no problem, it is the cadmium. I coul dcare less what you do with them, drop them in the local lake for all I care.

                  Back in th e90's I was hot and heavy in Telecom and we used thousands of them. Then the EPA dropped the hammer on them, gave industry a few years to ge trid of them before the ban took place, So everyone got rid of them for free. No it cost big bucks. Thousands of them sitting on the bottom of the oceans and lakes. That is what you get with EPA.
                  Last edited by Sunking; 04-05-2016, 06:33 PM.
                  MSEE, PE

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                  • #10
                    Got some good news, Iron Edison said that for their NiFe's they use / recommend 300g of KOH and 20g of LiOH per litre of distilled water. Finally some hard numbers and not fuzzy percentages that can be misinterpreted. I don't know on NiCd's, but that's a start. I'll try that mix in one set of ten, and straight KOH in another set side-by-side and see which works better.

                    I also have a set of these little Russian NiFe's I need to fill up too. A set of those and a 20w panel will be great for camping trips.

                    As for the oil, I keep hearing / reading "Mineral Oil", so I guess that's what I need and what Edison Type 22 Battery Oil is, Type 22 is probably just an Edison specific designation. I'll use the oil in the Edisons, but the Russian NiFe's won't have oil, they're just too small for that.

                    Heading to Seattle to get the KOH, LiOH, straight mineral oil, etc., later this week. Will keep this forum informed of my positive and good news renewing these cells. It'll be months of charging and checking the electrolyte to see how much they come back, and unlike others, not giving up so trivially and poo-poo-ing on the idea. =D

                    Bailey

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                    • #11
                      Various web sources, including http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...6403211600232X, indicate that for NiFe the molarity (gram molecular weight of KOH per liter) should be in the range of 5 or 6. Since the molecular weight of KOH is about 56, multiply that by 5 or by 6 to get the number of grams to add to each liter of water.
                      [B]But [/B]no comparable information for NiCd. I would not take a chance on assuming that the concentration should be the same.

                      OK: One totally non-authoritative source (http://www.aviationpros.com/article/...nce-procedures) says"The electrolyte used in the NiCad battery is a 30 percent solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH) in distilled water."
                      That would be about 300 grams per liter. Same ball park.
                      Not sure about the LiOH concentration for NiCd though.
                      Last edited by inetdog; 04-05-2016, 08:09 PM.
                      SunnyBoy 3000 US, 18 BP Solar 175B panels.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by inetdog View Post
                        OK: One totally non-authoritative source (http://www.aviationpros.com/article/...nce-procedures) says"The electrolyte used in the NiCad battery is a 30 percent solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH) in distilled water."
                        That would be about 300 grams per liter. .
                        You are getting close. Not going to help out here, just too dangerous. But this is one are where "[I]Don't Get Any On You"[/I] applies. Battery acid is nothing compared to what is needed for wet NiCd. At least battery acid you got time to wash it off before a major burn is incurred.
                        MSEE, PE

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by inetdog View Post
                          ... That would be about 300 grams per liter. Same ball park.
                          Not sure about the LiOH concentration for NiCd though.
                          This is exactly why I wanted to do a side-by-side test of both a set with and another without. With all of the cells I have, I have three banks of ED-160,s and one ED-240 set (10x cells for 12v system). One of the ED-160's will have LiOH in the electrolyte to see if there's a difference. Might work better, might not, only really one way to know.

                          Originally posted by Sunking View Post
                          You are getting close. Battery acid is nothing compared to what is needed for wet NiCd. At least battery acid you got time to wash it off before a major burn is incurred.
                          Fully aware of the hazards. Many have warned me. I also got that nasty stuff on my hand a few years back cleaning up a bunch of leaked AA's. Ouch. Learned about that crap the hard way. I'm also hitting the home depot for some sheets of thick plastic for the workspace, and some NBC gloves from ebay. Acid can be neutralized with baking soda to get you to the hospital in time to deal with it, KOH on the other hand just keeps going til it's all chemically reacted. I got scared once with it, know better than to be lax with gallons of it this time.

                          Bailey

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JustinBailey View Post
                            Fully aware of the hazards. Many have warned me. I also got that nasty stuff on my hand a few years back cleaning up a bunch of leaked AA's. Ouch. Learned about that crap the hard way.
                            That is nothing compared to Wet NiCd and the PH is a full point lower or 10 times more caustic.

                            On the flip side I think you will learn a very expensive lesson. More than likely the batteries arr Boat Anchors.
                            MSEE, PE

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sunking View Post
                              That is nothing compared to Wet NiCd and the PH is a full point lower or 10 times more caustic.

                              On the flip side I think you will learn a very expensive lesson. More than likely the batteries arr Boat Anchors.
                              Yeah, got it wet cleaning up electronics after some big NiCd packs let loose, that's where I learned.

                              And, as for their capacity, right now one set has replaced a single lead-acid and even with 40 year old KOH has been running my whole room here, computer, radio, lights, etc, off of my panels. I'm very pleased even at their diminished capacity. Some seem quite dead, but only four so far out of the whole lot look flatlined. The others will come back to life at some capacity, probably 80-90% of their original cap I'm hoping. I have enough of them there *will* be one complete set of ED-160's that really kicks ass above the rest. After cleaning out the interior, they just need to cook on my panels for a couple of months. I set it to top off at 15.5v. The used set has actually gained performance that I've been using as-is over the past three months, this is why I steadfast don't believe you Sunking when you diss' my Edisons.

                              Bailey

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