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Introduction to NiCd and LiFePO4 Batteries

Views: 231     Author: Ubest     Publish Time: 2023-09-21      Origin: Site

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Introduction to NiCd and LiFePO4 Batteries

A NiCd Battery: What Is It?

Nickel-cadmium (NiCd/NiCad) batteries are rechargeable batteries that were once widely used in a variety of electricity storage applications, such as power tools, portable electronic devices, and solar batteries. NiCd batteries have a long history, with the first being invented in 1899, and are far superior to lead acid batteries, which were the most widely used alternative rechargeable battery for the majority of the twentieth century.


In recent years, the use of NiCd batteries has decreased, owing to improved battery chemistries such as nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH), lithium-ion (Li-ion), and, more recently, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4/LFP) becoming more affordable, widely available, and offering significantly better performance.


Furthermore, the disposal of cadmium – a primary material used in NiCd batteries – has a disastrous impact on the environment, the food chain, and human health. NiCd batteries were banned from being manufactured in the European Union (EU) in 2006, and they can now only be used in limited applications due to stringent manufacturing, disposal, and recycling regulations.


1. Benefits of a NiCd Battery

Nickel-cadmium batteries were seen to have numerous advantages when lead-acid batteries were the only option. In comparison to today's superior battery chemistry options, NiCd has very few advantages. They are, however, still widely used in specific applications. Here are the advantages of nickel-cadmium batteries over Li-ion and LiFePO4 batteries that keep them from becoming obsolete in specific (primarily commercial/industrial) use cases.

2. Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

In applications where 100% reliable, uninterrupted electricity output is required in a wide range of environmental conditions, NiCd batteries are sometimes preferred over newer technologies such as Li-ion. Backup systems on airplanes, in hospitals, and in data centers that require an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) are examples.

Even though the LiFePO4 batteries used in devices such as EcoFlow's portable power stations have a nearly imperceptible switchover speed of less than 30 ms during a power outage, this can damage sensitive electronic equipment such as hard drives and desktop computers. A 30ms Emergency Power System (EPS) auto-switch, on the other hand, is perfectly acceptable in only a few applications.

3. Temperature has little effect on performance

NiCd batteries provide highly reliable performance in applications where extreme temperature fluctuations are expected, such as airplane system compartments and specific manufacturing processes. Extreme temperature changes, such as from 14°F (-10°C) to 86°F (30°C) in hours or minutes, are uncommon but common in industrial applications.


Furthermore, the operating temperature range of NiCd batteries is extremely broad, averaging from 40°F (-40°C) to +158°F (70 °C).

4. Discharge Depth

NiCd batteries have a higher depth of discharge (DoD) than many other battery chemistries, particularly lead-acid batteries. NiCd batteries with a higher DoD deliver a consistent electrical current and wattage even when nearly fully discharged. NiCd batteries can also withstand deep discharges for extended periods without sustaining damage. When discharged below 50% of their maximum storage capacity, many lead acid batteries sustain permanent damage and suffer from reduced performance.


What Is a LiFePO4 Battery (LFP)?

Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4/LFP) batteries are a newer subset of Li-ion chemistry that has several advantages over traditional lithium-ion batteries, as well as NiCd and lead acid batteries.


Although LiFePO4 batteries were invented in 1996, the technology has vastly improved and become much more widely used in recent years. When Tesla announced in late 2021 that it was switching to LiFePO4 chemistry for all of its standard-range EVs, LFP batteries received a lot of attention. As shown in the graph above, demand for LiFePO4 (LFP) batteries in the EV market has been explosive — a sign of the technology's maturity, which gives it many advantages over other battery chemistries.


1. Benefits of a LiFePO4 Battery

Electric vehicle manufacturers are far from the only ones switching to LFP batteries. As technology advances and costs fall, industry-leading solar battery and off-grid power innovators such as EcoFlow are transitioning from NiCd and traditional Li-ion batteries to lithium iron phosphate (LFP). Here are the main advantages of LiFePO4 batteries over NiCd batteries, particularly in terms of solar and off-grid power solutions.


Cost

LiFePO4 batteries are less expensive to produce than NiCd batteries, both in terms of material costs and manufacturing costs. Because of lower manufacturing costs, brands can offer more powerful solar batteries, portable power stations, and home backup battery solutions at a lower price than NiCd-powered products.

Life Cycle

Unlike lead acid batteries, chronological time has little effect on the lifespan of Ni-CD and LiFePO4 batteries. Instead, how frequently and how well you use the battery (or batteries) in your portable power station or Power Kit determines how long it will last before you notice a drop in performance.

That is why, when deciding which battery option is best for you, understanding cycle life is critical. A "cycle" is one complete discharge and recharge of a battery. Cycle life is typically listed as a manufacturer's specification, indicating how many cycles your battery can provide before performance noticeably declines.

Charge Times That Are Faster

LiFePO4 batteries charge much faster than other battery chemistries, making them ideal for EVs. Spend less time at a charging station and more time driving. It's also a huge benefit for solar power systems, where the potential for electricity generation is naturally limited by available peak sunlight hours in your location.

Wide Temperature Range of Operation

Although LFP batteries cannot compete with NiCd in terms of extreme temperature operation, they do have a wider operating temperature range than lead acid or traditional lithium-ion batteries.

Environmentally Friendly

The negative impact of NiCd batteries on human health and the environment, particularly the cadmium they contain, has already led to their widespread ban in the EU.

LiFeP04 batteries are far more environmentally friendly. Dangerous heavy metals such as lead or cadmium are not used in their manufacture, and massive investments in lithium recycling mean that more lithium is reused rather than mined from the Earth.

Furthermore, the exceptionally long cycle life of LFP batteries means that the batteries must be replaced less frequently, which is beneficial to you as a consumer. And then there's the environment.

More Humane Manufacturing and Supply Chain

Traditional lithium-ion batteries require cobalt to function. Under harsh labor conditions, the Democratic Republic of the Congo mines and processes approximately 70% of the world's cobalt. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the world's poorest countries, and rising cobalt demand from EVs and other clean energy technologies hasn't improved the lives of most of its citizens. Instead, women and children as young as six or seven years old work to meet global demand without benefit.


According to The Guardian, Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla have been sued "by Congolese families who say their children were killed or maimed while mining for cobalt."By choosing LiFeP04 batteries over Li-on batteries, you are making a choice that you can be proud of, both as a consumer and as someone who cares about human rights.

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