Nicd Battery Comparison With Other Batteries
Recently, nickel–metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries have become commercially available and cheaper, the former type now rivaling Ni–Cd batteries in cost. Where energy density is important, Ni–Cd batteries are now at a disadvantage compared with nickel–metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries. However, the Ni–Cd battery is still very useful in applications requiring very high discharge rates because it can endure such discharge with no damage or loss of capacity.
When compared to other forms of rechargeable battery, the Ni–Cd battery has a number of distinct advantages:
The batteries are more difficult to damage than other batteries, tolerating deep discharge for long periods. In fact, Ni–Cd batteries in long-term storage are typically stored fully discharged. This is in contrast, for example, to lithium ion batteries, which are less stable and will be permanently damaged if discharged below a minimum voltage.
The battery performs very well under rough conditions, perfect for use in the portable tools.
Ni–Cd batteries typically last longer, in terms of number of charge/discharge cycles, than other rechargeable batteries such as lead/acid batteries.
Compared to lead–acid batteries, Ni–Cd batteries have a much higher energy density. A Ni–Cd battery is smaller and lighter than a comparable lead–acid battery, but not a comparable NiMH or Li-ion battery. In cases where size and weight are important considerations (for example, aircraft), Ni–Cd batteries are preferred over the cheaper lead–acid batteries.
In consumer applications, Ni–Cd batteries compete directly with alkaline batteries. A Ni–Cd cell has a lower capacity than that of an equivalent alkaline cell, and costs more. However, since the alkaline battery's chemical reaction is not reversible, a reusable Ni–Cd battery has a significantly longer total lifetime. There have been attempts to create rechargeable alkaline batteries, or specialized battery chargers for charging single-use alkaline batteries, but none that has seen wide usage.
The terminal voltage of a Ni–Cd battery declines more slowly as it is discharged, compared with carbon–zinc batteries. Since an alkaline battery's voltage drops significantly as the charge drops, most consumer applications are well equipped to deal with the slightly lower Ni–Cd cell voltage with no noticeable loss of performance.
The capacity of a Ni–Cd battery is not significantly affected by very high discharge currents. Even with discharge rates as high as 50C, a Ni–Cd battery will provide very nearly its rated capacity. By contrast, a lead acid battery will only provide approximately half its rated capacity when discharged at a relatively modest 1.5C.
The maximum continuous current drain of Ni-Cd battery is commonly around 15C. Compared to NiMH battery where usable maximum continuous current drain is not more than 5C.
Nickel–metal hydride (NiMH) batteries are the newest, and most similar, competitor to Ni–Cd batteries. Compared to Ni–Cd batteries, NiMH batteries have a higher capacity and are less toxic, and are now more cost effective. However, a Ni–Cd battery has a lower self-discharge rate (for example, 20% per month for a Ni–Cd battery, versus 30% per month for a traditional NiMH under identical conditions), although low self-discharge ("LSD") NiMH batteries are now available, which have substantially lower self-discharge than either Ni–Cd or traditional NiMH batteries. This results in a preference for Ni–Cd over non-LSD NiMH batteries in applications where the current draw on the battery is lower than the battery's own self-discharge rate (for example, television remote controls). In both types of cell, the self-discharge rate is highest for a full charge state and drops off somewhat for lower charge states. Finally, a similarly sized Ni–Cd battery has a slightly lower internal resistance, and thus can achieve a higher maximum discharge rate (which can be important for applications such as power tools).
The primary trade-off with Ni–Cd batteries is their higher cost and the use of cadmium. This heavy metal is an environmental hazard, and is highly toxic to all higher forms of life. They are also more costly than lead–acid batteries because nickel and cadmium cost more. One of the biggest disadvantages is that the battery exhibits a very marked negative temperature coefficient. This means that as the cell temperature rises, the internal resistance falls. This can pose considerable charging problems, particularly with the relatively simple charging systems employed for lead–acid type batteries. Whilst lead–acid batteries can be charged by simply connecting a dynamo to them, with a simple electromagnetic cut-out system for when the dynamo is stationary or an over-current occurs, the Ni–Cd battery under a similar charging scheme would exhibit thermal runaway, where the charging current would continue to rise until the over-current cut-out operated or the battery destroyed itself. This is the principal factor that prevents its use as engine-starting batteries. Today with alternator-based charging systems with solid-state regulators, the construction of a suitable charging system would be relatively simple, but the car manufacturers are reluctant to abandon tried-and-tested technology.
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