The battery invented 120 years before its time—OR NOT

NiFe (aka Edison) Batteries and Renewable False Hopes

By Rud Istvan

This post was inspired yet again by another Charles email alerting me to a new BBC post. He referred it knowing that I have some expertise in energy storage systems and their related materials. So, I dug around, then called him and said, YUP, another possibly sardonic guest post. So here we go.

The new BBC article is yet another in an innumerable series of MSM attempts to ‘future’ solve one of two fundamental inherent deficiencies in renewable wind and solar—intermittency. (The other is grid inertia.) For a different set of intermittency battery ‘solutions’ see essay California Dreaming in my ebook Blowing Smoke. BBC now touts the “battrolyzer”, a nickel/iron battery invented by Junger in 1899 as a less toxic but similar electrochemistry to NiCad, (nickel/cadmium), adopted by Thomas Edison for electric vehicles in 1901, and now enhanced to maximize byproduct hydrogen, which together will solve the intermittency problem. This is NOT new electrochemistry news; rather, a completely ignorant MSM ‘GND’ piece based solely on Delft University puff PR. Bad reporting of bad reporting; the GND echo chamber remains very loud.

The Nickel(oxide/hydroxide)/Iron battery was invented by the Swede Junger about 120 years ago as an environmentally friendlier alternative (same electrochemistry) to NiCad (popular in the 1980’s to early 1990’s, now for all intents and purposes environmentally gone because cadmium IS toxic). Iron replaced Cadmium, with some ‘disadvantages’ noted below. Thomas Edison (TE) championed it for his electric vehicles in 1901; unfortunately for TE, gasoline soon won out for many reasons including energy density and cost. NiFe battery chemistry remained in US production until about 1975 for specialty applications like railroad signaling (performance details below), and it still remains in Chinese production (cost details below).

The reason BBC became excited about the new University of Delft PR was that NiFe not only stores electricity, on charging it also electrolyzes the water-based electrolyte and produces hydrogen. So do Lead Acid, (PbA), batteries but to a much lesser extent. For TE electric 1901 vehicles, explosive hydrogen was a problem. Per BBC, this is now a terrific advantage. So, we have to divvy up the new BBC article into two parts: grid storage batteries, and hydrogen.

NiFe as a grid battery

The basics are that Iron(Fe) is the anode, and Nickel(oxide/hydroxide) is the cathode. The electrochemical charge shuttle is like NiCad, a standard oxygen mediated redox. The typical electrolyte is aqueous potassium hydroxide (hence the hydrogen electrolysis). An advantage over lead acid (PbA) chemistry is tolerance of overcharge/overdischarge giving long life, about 20 years rather than maybe 4-5 in babied PbA (golf cart/trolling motor deep cycle batteries). Depth of Discharge (DoD) for 20 years NiFe cycle life is about 80%.  All wonderful—BUT.

Battery details matter. The Ni/Fe charge/discharge rate is VERY slow, unlike PbA. A full charge from 80% DoD discharge takes about 7.5 hours (in energy storage terms, a slow C rate). So unlike TE’s hopes, could NEVER have been used as a car starter battery requiring high currents for a short period (a high discharge C rate). The charging efficiency is only about 65%, the discharge efficiency is only about 85%. Translation, NiFe is not only inefficient, it therefore heats up a lot in use both ways. Heat is a big problem with large grid scale batteries.

The nominal voltage of a single NiFe cell is 1.2V, so unlike a standard 12V 6 cell PbA, 12V NiFe requires 10 cells. That is why it is about 30% more expensive per 12V at any AH. More cells, more battery, so more cost for equivalent capacity.

Another problem. Unlike PbA or LiIon, the self-discharge of NiFe is a bit more than 1% per day, or 30-40% per month depending on details and ambient temperatures (that darned electrochemical Nernst equation again). So if it just sits finally charged waiting on the next UK grid wind outage, after a month UK can write off about a third of its previously stored capacity.

Another big problem is based on current Chinese NiFe production pricing. A simple industrial 24V effective 2.2KWh capacity battery presently costs $2107. So to get close to UK grid voltage (using Kip Hansen reasoning) by wiring two in series to get 48V (close enough for this example), it costs ($4214/2.2KWh amortized over ~20 years or ~$0.96/KWh ignoring interest. Even in super expensive Germany thanks to its renewable Energiewende, it is now ‘only’ about $0.30/KWh. That is about 3x higher cost than Germany for this ‘new’ BBC ‘solution’ in the best case.

NiFe as a hydrogen generator

There are many problems with hydrogen. See essay Hydrogen Hype in my aforementioned ebook for a vehicular take. One of the disadvantages of the 1901 Edison NiFe battery was its hydrogen generation. Delft now tries to turn that into a grid advantage by optimizing to coproduce H2 fuel from excess renewable electricity during NiFe charging. Hence Delft’s catchy new name ‘battrolyzer’.

There are a few very basic hydrogen problems.  Foremost, electrolysis efficiency is at best ~70%. That may also explain Delft’s NiFe charging efficiency of only ~65%.

Bigger problems arise in storing any generated hydrogen. There is a very well-known problem in iron and steel containment (pipes, tanks) called hydrogen embrittlement. The first paper on it was published in 1875. Now, there are partial solutions using exotic coatings. The general class is called ‘hydrogen penetration barriers’. These are mostly top secret and cost insensitive, since developed mainly by Los Alamos to conserve tritium in (hopefully) inactive hydrogen bombs.

Storing hydrogen as a liquid is possible, but wastes incredible chilling electricity. To merely compress it loses ‘only’ about 10% (as we all know from bicycle tire pumps and high school chemistry where PV/T=k). Compressing a gas heats it up, and that heat is wasted.

IF we could somehow efficiently and safely store bulk hydrogen from grid scale renewable battrolyzers, we would still have major engineering problems. The BBC/MSM fad in the UK is to replace natgas with ‘clean’ hydrogen, somehow produced. That ignores the hydrogen embrittlement and hydrogen leak distribution pipe problems from chemistry’s smallest and most mobile/permeable atom.

So, two possible ‘tandem’ solutions are maybe present together. First, somehow safely store grid scale bulk hydrogen byproduct in situ. A new permeability coating non-H-bomb related. Then, either burn it in a gas turbine with just steam exhaust, or consume it in a fuel cell (see essay Hydrogen Hype for fuel cell considerable net thermodynamic difficulties). The only problems are, we dunno how to do the first except for H-bombs, and for the second the thermal regeneration efficiency is still at best about 60%.

So, BBC implicitly suggests we use a battrolyzer to compressively store green ~30% of wind nameplate capacity (its capacity factor) at a battrolyzer efficiency of maybe 65%, netting (0.3*0.65*0.9) ~18% energy storage efficiency. Then we use that at about at best ~60% efficiency to regenerate electricity for the grid, a net round trip efficiency of maybe (0.18*0.6) 0.11% from the originally subsidized renewable generation. What a great deal–NOT.

In the US, we have just learned from the Biden administration that such simple math as this, and then showing its homework, is racist. This post therefore also explains why that warped view is now the prevailing GND ‘wisdom’. According to the BBC battrolyzer math, 2+2=5–(or just for GND battrolyzers =3).

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Prjindigo
March 9, 2021 2:12 pm

There’s this lead and other-metals battery designed to operate in a molten state that is housed within layers of fire brick which outperforms all the rest of the crap mentioned over time. It is also incredibly safe.

https://ambri.com/technology/ it’s just kinda big so you can’t hide it inside a sex toy.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Prjindigo
March 9, 2021 11:21 pm

Not very practicable for road vehicles, then!

menace
Reply to  Prjindigo
March 10, 2021 7:53 am

Lithium-ion batteries are projected to drop in price from current levels to less than $100/kWh at some time in the mid to late 2020s. Even compared to this low future lithium-ion price of $100/kWh, these energy storage systems will be significantly more expensive than Ambri-based battery systems.

Great! So we have a shovel ready solution ready to go then! Who’s buying them, they should be flying off the shelves, no? You’d think the non-green utilities would be interested as it claims to be more efficient than pumped storage. So cheap you don’t even need to have subsidies!

Or is this more over-hype for a perpetual not ready for prime time technology

MarkW
Reply to  menace
March 10, 2021 10:04 am

They’ve been projecting huge drops in battery prices for decades, if not centuries.

Yet for some reason, good batteries remain expensive.

beng135
Reply to  MarkW
March 13, 2021 8:10 am

Yes, the cost of regular ‘ol car batteries has skyrocketed in recent years.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  MarkW
March 10, 2021 11:27 am

The search for the magic battery continues…

WXcycles
March 9, 2021 2:16 pm

The reason BBC became excited about the new University of Delft PR was that NiFe not only stores electricity, on charging it also electrolyzes the water-based electrolyte and produces hydrogen. …

ROFL … dry humor is the best humor.

(reminds me of recharging a car battery in an enclosed space when I was 18, and my dad going off at me because of the hydrogen released during charging them)

Last edited 6 months ago by WXcycles
Rick C
Reply to  WXcycles
March 9, 2021 2:49 pm

Had to put a new battery in my in-law’s Buick Rivera. Opened the hood -no battery. Tried the trunk (boot for you Brits) no battery. Went on line and found it was under the back seat. The replacement battery came with vents that connect to a tubing system that safely vents hydrogen out of the car during charging.

Reply to  Rick C
March 9, 2021 3:02 pm

The old VW had their battery under back seat too.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
March 9, 2021 4:39 pm

No vents, though.

yirgach
Reply to  ATheoK
March 10, 2021 11:36 am

And when the seat or the shocks wore out and the metal seat springs shorted the battery terminals which you were sitting on top of…

Reply to  yirgach
March 10, 2021 4:41 pm

Nothing was in the back seat.
The battery blew 90 minutes into a long distance trip on a flat level road.

Shocks were new. Vehicle inspection in that state were tough. Worn joints, brakes, brake cylinders, shocks were all sufficient to get a “Failed inspection” sticker plastered on the windshield to make use difficult.

No spark needed with hydrogen, Pressure is sufficient.

One mechanic told me that my generator and voltage regulator were failing and I’d likely have to replace the generator soon.

That seat, shocks, generator and voltage regulator then drove across America and back without a problem.
Never had a battery blow again.

Though it did cause me to be extra careful about disconnecting batteries when I worked near them.

taz1999
Reply to  ATheoK
March 10, 2021 3:27 pm

My beetle vented the battery due to corrosion around the the bottom of battery pan. Wonderful 70’s steel. Driver’s seat became a rocking chair one night when a leg stretch popped the seat attachment from the rail. 3 throw out bearings in 2 years. 1 clutch cable. Odometer/speedometer usually lasted about a month. My then to become wife remembers pushing around the parking lot so I could pop clutch start. Looking around for hills to park on…

gospace
Reply to  Rick C
March 10, 2021 7:47 pm

The starting battery for the Prius is located in the trunk. And also operated the trunk latch. So it’s a real b—- to get to when the battery fails. Also has a vent line attached.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  WXcycles
March 9, 2021 7:24 pm

I didn’t think that was funny. The part where it blows up… that was funny.

Oldseadog
Reply to  Bill Parsons
March 10, 2021 4:41 am

The battery in my Mercedes is under the floor just in front of the driver’s seat.
But to be fair the car is 14 years old and so is the battery.

Paul
Reply to  Oldseadog
March 10, 2021 12:08 pm

The 6 volt battery in Dad’s truck was also under the floor. That’s me driving!

Model T.jpg
Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  WXcycles
March 11, 2021 7:03 am

WXcycles posted: “ROFL … dry humor is the best humor.”

Exactly so: dry. If the battrolyzer is optimized to electrolyze water into hydrogen (and oxygen, released at the opposite polarity electrode upon charging), then that necessarily means that an equivalent mass of water is lost from the battery’s electrolyte. If left uncorrected, after a relatively few cycles (<10?) … guess what? … almost dry electrolyte and the battrolyzer quits working.

This issue was not mentioned in the above article, so one can add to the list of disadvantages the need to periodically add distilled water to restore the electrolyte to its design specific gravity range … aka, frequent “maintenance”.

For large scale grid storage, this fact would imply the need for an automated distilled water supply facility with plumbing and automatic control valves necessary for electrolyte maintenance for all cells.

Tom Halla
March 9, 2021 2:17 pm

Yet another green idea that has killer problems.

Scissor
March 9, 2021 2:22 pm

A few of these batteries will eventually explode on charging given the propensity for hydrogen leakage.

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Scissor
March 9, 2021 7:31 pm

NiFe batteries were the preferred type for railroad passenger car lighting as they were almost indestructible. Battery explosions must have been rare as I do not recall any mention of explosions in RR car lighting literature.

lackawaxen123
Reply to  Erik Magnuson
March 9, 2021 9:18 pm

they where vented

Solar Mutant Ninjaneer
March 9, 2021 2:25 pm

This article reminds me of the following quote.

“The storage battery is, in my opinion, a catchpenny, a sensation, a mechanism for swindling the public by stock companies. The storage battery is one of those peculiar things which appeals to the imagination, and no more perfect thing could be desired by stock swindlers than that very selfsame thing. … Just as soon as a man gets working on the secondary battery it brings out his latent capacity for lying.”
–  Albert Edison

There is nothing new under the sun.

Reply to  Solar Mutant Ninjaneer
March 9, 2021 2:33 pm

AlbertEdison.com, a famous marketing company.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Solar Mutant Ninjaneer
March 9, 2021 6:00 pm
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 9, 2021 9:12 pm

The absolutely fracking hilarious thing about that SeekingAlpha article, written in 2010, was it written by a lawyer whose Disclaimer stated: “Author is a former director of Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) and holds a substantial long position in its common stock.”

Axion Power, formed in 2003, was trying to bring a lead-acid battery storage solution to market. Axion aimed to give lithium-ion a run for its money with an advanced lead-acid battery equipped with carbon electrodes. 
The electrode technology, from a Russian company that had been developing it for superconductors, was supposed to give the battery a lifespan three to four times longer than batteries using traditional lead negative electrodes.

Axion ran out of Investors’ cash (OPM) and went bye-bye via Chapter 7 liquidation in 2018. So much for a substantial long position. Pretty standard story for the battery storage industry trying to be the next Standard Oil. That lost money invested in Permian Basin drilling rights in 2003 would have multiplied orders of magnitude to today.

beng135
Reply to  Solar Mutant Ninjaneer
March 13, 2021 8:18 am

– Albert Edison

Not to be confused with Thomas Einstein

dk_
March 9, 2021 2:30 pm

“The only problems are, we dunno how to do the first except for H-bombs, ”
Overall, well done, but just a note on the phrase above: burning hydrogen is easy (just wrap a blimp around it), just takes a helluva lot to make steam enough to generate useful power. H-bombs are fusion devices that output a lot of crap, and heat, but result in helium as the main product. This is not to be confused with fusion generators which don’t require a fission explosion to set them off. We don’t have practical fusion generation yet, (always 50 years away), nor the needed infrastructure to incorporate it into the existing systems, but I think may be a little closer to being what you were trying to say.

Last edited 6 months ago by dk_
Reply to  dk_
March 9, 2021 3:14 pm

burning hydrogen is easy 😀

That’s right, in school, our teacher for chemistry would show us oxyhydrogengas exolsion.
He installed a water electolysis equipment, and for catching H2, he used a soft plastic bottle.
On the other corner of his table a Bunsen burner was working.
As he thought, the bottle was filled, he closed the bottle with one finger, approached the burner and as he told before, his intention was to press heavy on the bottle to pump the gas into the fire. Seams, he forgott to press hard enough, it exploded in his hand…..
6 weeks without chemistry…

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Krishna Gans
March 9, 2021 4:43 pm

My senior hi chem teacher aspired higher. He was a retired Army general artillery expert.
So, his new fangled 11th grade advanced chem experiment was as follows. Fill a red outside blue inside double balloon with 2x hydrogen by volume inside. Then fill the red outside with 1x oxygen. Tie the thing off. Let it float to the classroom ceiling. Then set it off using an early green laser pointer.
BOOM. Blew half the ceiling tiles off the classroom. I was so impressed decided on the spot to become a chem major in college. Alas, college first year boring physical Chem (no boom) at Harvard that I switched to an Econ major, as an excuse for my then new found love of math modeling of all sorts.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 9, 2021 6:57 pm

oxy-acetylene filled balloons lofted in tandem with a helium balloon are way more interesting crowd pleasers.

Last edited 6 months ago by joelobryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 10, 2021 3:18 pm

The FBI were called to my high school in 1975 to investigate the aftermath of an oxy-acetylene balloon.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  dk_
March 11, 2021 8:04 am

dk posted: “H-bombs are fusion devices that output a lot of crap, and heat, but result in helium as the main product.”

I wonder if that is true. Thermonuclear bombs (“H-bombs) output a massive amount of particle radiation (mostly protons and neutrons) and massive amounts of EM radiation (mostly X-ray to gamma ray energy range). For additional details see https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/267819/what-is-the-spectrum-of-a-nuclear-bomb-in-a-vacuum

I cannot find a Web reference that gives the mass fraction distribution between helium production and the proton and neutron production.

However, I did find this statement: “So it takes 327kg of hydrogen to produce 50MT of energy by using a thermonuclear reaction ( Proton-Proton chain). … Of that 327kg, only 0.712% or 2.33kg is converted to energy.” — source: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/135013/hydrogen-bomb-mass-to-energy .
No definition provided as to the breakdown of what is included in the term “energy”.

Neo
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
March 11, 2021 1:54 pm

Most thermonuclear device use Lithium-6 (or Lithium-7 stripped to Lithium-6) as their main fuel. Considering Lithium is heavier (atomic number 3) than Helium (atomic number 2).
If Helium is the main product, is it really fusion ?

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Neo
March 11, 2021 5:18 pm

Modern H-bombs use lithium-6 deuteride to supply the hydrogen (the deuteride part) for fusing into helium, thereby releasing the mass difference as residual energy.

Lithium does not a participate in the series of nuclear reactions leading to final He4 production that occurs in an H-bomb.

There are neutron-activated deuterium-to-tritium nuclear reactions that can end up producing helium as a byproduct, but these are not significantly important in H-bomb energy release.

John Tillman
March 9, 2021 2:40 pm

Cadium is used in Cd-Telluride solar panels. The main producer of them in the US is First Solar of Tempe, AZ. Its largest shareholder in Lukas Walton, grandson of Walmart founder Sam. Lukas inherited billions at 19 when his dad died in a plane crash in 2005. He’s a big backer of Democrats in general and Biden in particular.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  John Tillman
March 9, 2021 4:43 pm

There is no cadmium in mono-crystalline, or poly-crystalline silicon panels.

Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 10:22 pm

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaics describes a photovoltaic (PV) technology that is based on the use of cadmium telluride in a thin semiconductor layer designed to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. Cadmium telluride PV is the only thin film technology with lower costs than conventional solar cells made of crystalline silicon in multi-kilowatt systems.

From your ideological friends at Wikipedia.

Seems you don’t even know anything about the technology that you tout.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:11 am

Good thing John Tillman never mentioned mono-crystalline or poly-crystalline silicon.

Reply to  John Tillman
March 9, 2021 6:59 pm

There’s no fixing stupid, especially filthy rich stupid.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 9, 2021 7:14 pm

Orange man is stupid. It’s questionable if he is “rich” and there is no fixing him.

Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 7:51 pm

Compared to Dementia Joe even to when Ole Joe still had a some mental capacity 10 years ago, Orange Man is a Mensa star.

fred250
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 10:22 pm

ROFLMAO.. more TDS to go with you CDS. !

Poor pathetic brianless.

So funny !!

John Endicott
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 3:57 am

Regardless of how rich or not Orange Man many be, he certainly has a genius for living rent free in your head.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:13 am

Standard progressive whine.
Anyone who doesn’t agree with them is stupid.
Trump has been many times more successful in life than you will ever be Brian. If he’s stupid, what does that make you?

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 10, 2021 6:21 am

You got that right. On the other hand…
Some could make the case that it is entirely the province of the ultra rich, in promoting such feeble technologies, as an artifice for securing great power over everyone else.
Great wealth is not an indicator of a great mind.

dk_
March 9, 2021 2:45 pm

I wonder if BBC is aware how much oil and coal is absolutely, irreplaceably required to smelt and form iron and nickel, or the phenolic battery cases used for the Edison batteries, or how potasium hydroxide is produced and handled. I wonder if they’ve considered the cost of the now defunct supply chain once put in place to rebuild and repair Edison batteries. Current (pun likely) U.K. health and safety regulations would prohibit most of the industries needed to make the system work, even if a lot of the manufacturing was from outside the country.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  dk_
March 9, 2021 4:45 pm

Iron and nickel are recyclable, generating a lot less CO2 than smelting.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 5:07 pm

Can you provide a citation for your claim?

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 9, 2021 5:26 pm

https://www.usgs.gov/centers/nmic/iron-and-steel-scrap-statistics-and-information

and
.
http://metalpedia.asianmetal.com/metal/nickel/recycling.shtml
.
.
Oh, and FYI the lead in common car/truck batteries is also recycled. Less energy expended to obtain new lead from virgin ore.

Last edited 6 months ago by Brian Jackson
Kevin kilty
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 8:07 pm

True and many other metals are as well. However, specialty alloys require some primary production. You cannot completely recycle specialty alloys.

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  Kevin kilty
March 10, 2021 5:53 am

All we have to do is find a simple and energy-efficient method of converting one element to another. New physics in needed, not a new reality. Once we solve the food and energy problems, we will work on the materials problem. Little by little… (in Swahili, Haba na haba, ujaza kibaba).

fred250
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 9:51 pm

“generating a lot less CO2 than smelting.generating a lot less CO2 than smelting.”

.

SO WHAT !!

CO2 is required by all life on Earth for its very survival.

And has no provable detrimental effects.

Only a complete moron would want to limit its release.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  fred250
March 9, 2021 11:29 pm

Is that why most Greenies want to?

John Endicott
Reply to  Mike Lowe
March 10, 2021 3:59 am

Yep. Geenies never listened to Kirk Lazarus.

DHR
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 6:43 am

About 1/2 of the annual production of iron and steel products comes from recycled scrap. The other half comes from smelted iron ore. Are you suggesting some other source for that half?

dodgy geezer
March 9, 2021 2:56 pm

IF you burn hydrogen in oxygen, you do indeed get water as a by-product. Problem is, you won’t be burning it in oxygen, you’ll be burning it in air. Which is mainly nitrogen.

You are going to get NO and HN compounds coming out – and many of these are quite poisonous…..

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  dodgy geezer
March 10, 2021 6:02 am

Dodgy,

It is possible to get NO from burning it (anything) but only in special circumstances. I have not yet seem a practical hydrogen burner. Garth Foxcroft (a prolific South African inventor) told me it was very difficult to use in a fuel with an internal combustion engine due to the very high flame speed. Used with a conventional engine it would easily blow the heads off. That might create the conditions to make NO3, I guess.

No one is going to burn hydrogen gas to make steam to generate electricity. You feed it into a fuel cell to create water and electricity directly.

https://www.energy.gov/eere/articles/5-fast-facts-about-hydrogen-and-fuel-cells

You get more ton-miles out of hydrogen with a fuel cell than with an ICE burning it. emergy.gov says twice as many.

Ellen
March 9, 2021 3:02 pm

Ah, Edison batteries. I was curator in a medical museum, and some of the old equipment used Edison batteries to provide high currents when needed. There was one electrocardiograph magnet we had that used them. (Electrocardiographs used to be much larger, heavier, and power-hungry. Below is a photo of the EKG and battery.) You don’t want to put out an exhibit that is unsafe, and that battery had a very aggressive electrolyte. So I checked to see how much power was in the battery before I did anything.

A quick-and-dirty way of checking is to take jumper leads, put steel wool in one, and brush it against the other. The steel wool caught fire from the heat of the electrical current. And that was from a battery that probably hadn’t been used in fifty years. Steps were taken to disarm it, even though that hurt the authenticity.

One of the selling points of an Edison battery was that they held a charge. Experience concurs.

80-01-043.JPG
Reply to  Ellen
March 9, 2021 4:56 pm

One of the fire starting tricks taught to Scoutmasters and preppies is starting a fire with steel wool and a 9-volt battery. Effective, quick and easy since the electrodes are close together on the same side.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Ellen
March 9, 2021 8:13 pm

When two of my colleagues from the chemistry department obtained an old blasting machine (shot exploder) and wanted to use it as a cool way to set off a jackolantern filled with acetylene I suggested a bit of steel wool to in place of the blasting cap. Steel wool — useful stuff.

commieBob
March 9, 2021 3:35 pm

The problem with NiFe batteries was surface area. Thus, the plates were rough/porous like a super capacitor.

At some point Edison lost interest in building the batteries even though customers were begging for them. I assume they were just too much of a pain in the butt to manufacture.

Back in the 1970s there was (and maybe still is) something called a “Gates Cell”. As far as I could tell, they were made like an electrolytic capacitor. They thus had a very large surface area compared with other battery cells. That gave them a very high discharge current but my interest in them was that they performed remarkably well in the cold. At -40, they were maybe an order of magnitude better than any other battery cells I could get.

I always wondered if NiFe cells would be practical and cheap if they were made like electrolytic capacitors.

Andrew
March 9, 2021 3:50 pm

“So, BBC implicitly suggests we use a battrolyzer to compressively store green ~30% of wind nameplate capacity (its capacity factor) at a battrolyzer efficiency of maybe 65%, netting (0.3*0.65*0.9) ~18% energy storage efficiency. Then we use that at about at best ~60% efficiency to regenerate electricity for the grid, a net round trip efficiency of maybe (0.18*0.6) 0.11% from the originally subsidized renewable generation.”

I’m not sure why you’re multiplying by a wind turbine’s typical capacity factor when calculating battery round trip efficiency. If the battery’s charging efficiency is 0.65 and its discharge efficiency is 0.85, and assuming transmission efficiency of 0.95, then the round trip efficiency of the battery should be 0.65*0.85*0.95*0.95 = ~0.50, about 50%, minus losses due to self-discharge depending on how much time elapses between charge and discharge.

Unless I’m missing something here, part of the reason this type of battery’s charging and discharging efficiency isn’t 1 is because some of the energy is lost in hydrogen production. If that hydrogen is captured and later oxidized to produce energy, even if it is converted back to electric power at an efficiency of 60%, recovering some of the energy lost to hydrogen production will raise the battery storage system’s total round-trip efficiency to some value above the ~50% I calculated above.

At any rate, the round-trip efficiency is something of a red herring as I see it. Even if the battery system’s round trip efficiency were 100%, just the overnight cost of the batteries needed by a developed nation to back up an electrical grid supplied exclusively by wind and solar power would still be measured in terms of multiples of its annual GDP.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Andrew
March 9, 2021 4:49 pm

Hard to get a fossil fueled automobile to get more than 35% efficiency.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 5:16 pm

If one lives in a cold climate, then the overall efficiency of an ICE can exceed the theoretical efficiency. Battery-powered vehicles get reduced delivery efficiency with low temperatures, and that is exacerbated by having to use the battery to heat the passenger compartment and defrost the windshield. Heating the passenger compartment is essentially free with an ICE.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 9, 2021 6:32 pm

ROTFLMFAO…… no Clyde, perpetual motion doesn’t exist.

Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 7:18 pm

The dumb one is apparently you Brian, and you don’t even realize it.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 9, 2021 7:48 pm

Sorry Joel, do you live in Texas?……where all the dumb people that produce fossil fuels forgot to winterize their equipment?

Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 8:43 pm

As most WUWT regulars here know, I live in Tucson AZ.

Texas’s problems last month stemmed primarily from overbuilding wind turbines and becoming too reliant on unreliable electricity. that stupidly allowed them to base too much of their electrical supply on an intermittent power source that failed and had then through several decades built in insufficient amounts of coal and gas to back it up.

But cold freeze ups like what Texas experienced are supposed to be a thing of past according to the climate retards.

fred250
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 9, 2021 9:55 pm

Yep, the DELIBERATELY built UNRELIABILITY into their grid..

… because they cow-towed to the anti-CO2 agenda.!!

fred250
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 9:53 pm

“where all the dumb people”

.

People in charge of ERCOT were democrats..

So yes very DUMB. !

Didn’t winterizer their wind turbines either.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  fred250
March 10, 2021 9:53 am

Every member of the Texas Public Utility Commission was appointed by a Republican governor (Abbot & Perry)

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:27 am

I’m going out on a limb and assume that you actually believe this comment to be relevant.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:26 am

Brian, have you gotten out of grade school yet?

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 2:45 am

Wow.

Okay, this is first year stuff, so you should be able to understand.

The efficiency of a system is, in simple terms, energy in compared with work out.

However you also have the conservation of energy. All that energy that is not converted to useful work in an ICE is usually wasted as heat.

Important words here. Wasted. Heat.

Your real car with an ICE will still travel regardless of where the waste heat goes, so if you use some to heat the interior of the car it is effectively free.

First year stuff, Brian.

Please get off the floor.

Last edited 6 months ago by Craig from Oz
Brian Jackson
Reply to  Craig from Oz
March 10, 2021 9:47 am

When Li-ion batteries discharge, they generate heat. When electric motors spin the wheels of the vehicle, they generate heat.
.
What was that about the floor?

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:30 am

Yes, they generate heat, but under normal discharge rates, it is dispersed throughout the battery, the total increase in heat is small.
BTW, they design the battery to minimize heat build up, since heat over time damages the battery. Surely a self described expert such as yourself already knew that.

Yes, the electric motor does warm up. Now, how do you get that heat to the passenger compartment, and how much are you willing to pay to do so?

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:25 am

Once again, Brian has to lie about what others have said.
It’s getting quite obvious that even Brian knows he’s in over his head intellectually. It really does grate that people you view as inferior to yourself have been successful, while you are still stuck in last place.

Earthling2
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 10:20 pm

The Atkinson cycle engine gets about 40% thermal efficiency from gasoline by delaying the intake valve closing, (less friction) but then recycling the exhaust to make full use of the unburnt gas vapor. Although it doesn’t work well as a stand alone engine due to low torque, it is a marvellous addition to a plug-in hybrid, making the best of both electric and gasoline. The 2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime plug-in uses such, and is super efficient, getting 40 mpg (imperial gallon) on a 4000 pound SUV. Just bought one and am very impressed. For me, the PHEV is the long term solution to the best of both worlds. Plus I have a 18 kW lithium ion battery to draw a few hundred watts from for my remote Starlink internet and satellite TV off grid.

BCBill
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 10:43 pm

The ICE is now commonly more than 50% efficient. Other losses that reduce the efficiency of a car such as aerodynamic or bearing drag and rolling resistance apply whether the engine powering the car is internal combustion or anything else.

Andrew
Reply to  BCBill
March 10, 2021 12:25 am

50% thermal efficiency is right near the top end for diesel engines in light vehicles. Currently, high efficiency gasoline engines are getting thermal efficiencies in the low 40s percent. From what I’ve been told by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and elsewhere, light vehicles with gasoline engines that achieve thermal efficiencies of something like 75% are on the not-too-distant horizon. Engines that efficient coupled with a hybrid powertrain could deliver full sized sedans like the ones people drive today that get something like 115 mpg. With fuel economy that good, you’d have to charge just about any BEV on the road today with the least CO2 intensive electricity in the US for its entire operating lifetime and make some very generous assumptions about the lifespan of its battery pack to get the BEV to beat in in terms of total emissions per distance driven. Even in the best case projection for the BEV, there would be very little difference between the two vehicles, so in my opinion, the most important deciding factor should be, and probably will be for most people, the total operating cost.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Andrew
March 10, 2021 9:57 am

Advances in efficiency in newly produced vehicles does not affect the fleet. The 10 and 15 year old vehicles still on the road drops the fleet efficiency. Also you don’t need a 2-ton pickup truck to drive 15 miles to work when a smaller lighter vehicle would accomplish the same task.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:34 am

Once again, Brian has to change the subject and introduce irrelevancies in order to make it look like he actually knows what he is talking about.

If you can only afford one vehicle, and you need a 2-ton pickup truck, then you will end up driving that vehicle to work.
Do a lot of people buy big trucks that don’t need them? Yes, but so what? Are you proposing that in addition to forcing people to buy electrics, you are also going to force them to only buy small electrics?

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  MarkW
March 10, 2021 11:39 am

Obviously he’s an expert on absolutely everything.

fred250
Reply to  BCBill
March 10, 2021 3:56 am

And of course with a EV, we have the non-efficiency of producing electricity, MOSTLY BY COAL OR GAS, many miles away

Transmission losses, Thermal losses at transformers, losses within batteries.

INABILITY to properly HEAT or COOL a car without drastically reducing the range.

INABILITY to tow-loads without drastically reducing the range.

HOURS to re-charge the battery, IFF you can find somewhere to charge it.

etc etc

Rod
Reply to  fred250
March 10, 2021 6:19 am

It’s amazing how market pricing sorts all this out without the average person even having to do the calculations or consider the explanations. But subsidies and mandates destroy market pricing, usually leading to immense waste.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Rod
March 10, 2021 9:58 am

Market pricing worked so well in Texas during the cold snap.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:35 am

Poor little Brianless, he actually believes that there are no regulations or subsidies involved in generating electric power.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Andrew
March 9, 2021 5:11 pm

You need to learn better system math. I provided the simple net computations that your comment ignores. So, where is my math flaw?

Andrew
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 9, 2021 9:07 pm

The problem I’m seeing isn’t in your arithmetic but in your reasoning. In your article, you calculate the battery storage efficiency as equal to: windmill capacity factor*battery (charging? discharging? roundtrip?) efficiency*0.9. (Not that it has any bearing on the point I’m making, but I don’t know where your 0.9 figure comes from. I presume that figure comes from an assumption that the grid’s transmission efficiency is 95%, where 0.95^2 ≈ 0.9 reflects the fact that power flowing into and out of a grid storage device has to be transmitted over the grid twice, but that’s just a guess because you don’t say where that figure comes from.)

A windmill’s capacity factor is almost entirely determined by how often the wind is blowing within the range of velocities at which it is capable of generating its nameplate power output. This has absolutely nothing to do with how efficiently a battery or other storage device is capable of storing and discharging electrical energy. If the same battery were charged by a hypothetical power plant with a capacity factor of 100%, it would deliver the same round-trip efficiency as it would if it were charged by a solar PV array with a capacity factor of 10%.

I haven’t read the BBC article you’re responding to, but if I understand how the “battolyser” works correctly, then your next calculation is way off too.

Using your original charging and discharging efficiency figures of 0.65 and 0.85, respectively, for every 1000 Wh of electrical energy used to charge the NiFe battery, it will store 650 wH as chemical energy and release ~553 Wh as electrical energy upon discharge. Of the ~447 Wh that went somewhere else, most is lost as heat but some is lost, as I understand it, in the form of hydrogen production. I don’t know what fraction of these 447 Wh will have been lost to hydrogen production, but I’ll just assume for the sake of argument that it’s 10%, or ~45 Wh. If 10% of the 45 Wh is immediately consumed compressing the rest of the hydrogen, and then that hydrogen is later burned in a generator that converts its energy content to electrical energy at an efficiency of 60%, then the energy returned to the grid by the hydrogen capture, storage and combustion component of the battolyser in this scenario would be 45*(1-0.1)*0.6 ≈ 24 Whe. When you add this to the NiFe battery round-trip figure, the battolyser’s round trip energy figure becomes ~553+~24 ≈ 577 Whe. If you then include transmission losses of 5% each way, then the round trip energy efficiency of the battolyser in this scenario looks like this: For the battolyser to receive 1000 Whe for charging, a power source (e.g., a wind turbine, solar panel, nuclear reactor, etc.) must generate ~1053 Whe. Ultimately, the battolyser system will release 577 Whe back to the grid, which after transmission losses, will arrive at load sources as ~548 Whe. This gives this grid storage system in this scenario a round trip efficiency, from power plant to battolyser to load, of ~52%. Without the hydrogen capture component of the battolyser, the round trip efficiency using your charge/discharge figures and 95% transmission efficiency would be ~50%.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Andrew
March 9, 2021 8:22 pm

I’m not sure why you’re multiplying by a wind turbine’s typical capacity factor when calculating battery round trip efficiency.

Maybe because the capacity factor of the source has an impact on the cost of storage.

Andrew
Reply to  Kevin kilty
March 9, 2021 9:38 pm

The variance in the power output of a given form of generation along with its average share of total grid power generation will determine how much grid storage is required to ensure a specified degree of grid reliability, and it will in turn be a major determinant of the cost of building, maintaining and operating the required storage capacity, but it won’t, to a first order approximation, determine the round trip efficiency of the energy storage medium. Power generators’ capacity factors are not inherently relevant to the round trip efficiency of a battolyser or any other storage medium, and they’re definitely not relevant to it in the manner implied by the author’s calculation, where the round trip efficiency = power source’s capacity factor*storage medium’s efficiency*a number less than one that represents some unspecified thing.

Last edited 6 months ago by Andrew
Chris Hanley
March 9, 2021 3:55 pm

“… One of the biggest challenges of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar is how unpredictable and intermittent they can be …” (Allison Hirschlag).
I think she’s got it! By George I think she’s got it!
Investing squandering vast amounts of wealth on wind and solar before solving the apparently insoluble problem of viable energy storage is putting the cart before the horse.

observa
March 9, 2021 3:56 pm

Will gas still be relevant as they embark on their fantasy of no coal or nukes-
Is gas-powered electricity still relevant? – Stockhead

Of course when it looked like the lights might go out in South Australia and Tasmania they naturally installed diesel generators in a flash while the tame media looked the other way. Apparently refined fossil fuels are different or a unicorn Tesla battery is all it takes to distract these children.

ResourceGuy
March 9, 2021 4:09 pm

There comes a point in the Climate Crusades when efficiency does not matter. Or maybe that point was continuous and it never mattered to them.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
March 9, 2021 7:20 pm

It’s all fun and games until the OPM runs out.

Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 4:20 pm

“So if it just sits finally charged waiting on the next UK grid wind outage, after a month UK can write off about a third,,,”
..
Istvan doesn’t realize a fully charged system has a “trickle charger” running to solve that problem. It’s available on all computer BBU systems which maintain full charge during non-battery operation. (you can buy one at Staples or Office Max)
..
“Bigger problems arise in storing any generated hydrogen. ”
..
Store the hydrogen as methanol: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jp906780a
Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
..
Methanol can be burnt in a CCGT gas turbine power system.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 4:27 pm

You can even use the methanol in an internal combustion engine for transportation.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 5:38 pm

Istvan doesn’t understand that when these batteries are fully charged, the energy input doesn’t stop, it is then used to generate the hydrogen. Collect the hydrogen and make methanol, with the battery bank maintaining full charge in the process.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:39 am

Rube Goldberg would be so proud of you.

Mr.
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 6:27 pm

Do they thrown in a new set of valves with every tank fill-up?

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Mr.
March 9, 2021 7:53 pm

Didn’t have to at the Indianapolis 500 when they filled up the tanks multiple times during the race.
.
“Beginning in 1965, pure methanol was used widespread in USACIndy car competition, which at the time included the Indianapolis 500. ”
..
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol_fuel&nbsp;

Mr.
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 9:09 pm

So now we’re all gonna have $500k titanium engines in our cars.
Sweet!

MarkW
Reply to  Mr.
March 10, 2021 10:41 am

Brian is famous for both trying to change the subject when he gets behind, and speaking without thinking.

Mark D
Reply to  MarkW
March 10, 2021 2:17 pm

Don’t post often here but read much.
Is this Brian person an A.I. ?

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:40 am

Most people with real cars can get pretty close to 500 miles on a single tank. Comparing the gas mileage of an Indy car to a regular passenger car is something only a complete idiot would do.

Beyond that, they completely rebuild the engines of Indy cars between races.

Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 7:27 pm

“Methanol can be burnt in a CCGT gas turbine power system.”

Brian you appropriately forgot the evil carbon dioxide pollution that comes from burning hydrogen with any carbon based carrier, whether it is methane, methanol, or any higher carbon numbered hydrocarbon. The whole point of the colossal multi-trillion dollar, middle class-destroying climate scam is to become an energy poor society of carbon-free emissions for climate virtue.

Like I said above, the dumb one is you trying to look smart.

Last edited 6 months ago by joelobryan
Brian Jackson
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 9, 2021 7:55 pm

Joel, CO2 was sequestrated in the methanol using the H2 from the battery. Carbon-neutral.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:39 am

Brian isn’t smart enough to realize that a trickle charge is still energy being drained away from the grid and unavailable for useful purposes.

1) Storing methanol isn’t as problematic as storing hydrogen, but there are still issues involved.
2) What are the inefficiencies in creating, then burning methanol?
3) How much is yet another step going to cost?

Frank from NoVA
March 9, 2021 4:22 pm

One of the major assumptions of the environmental left is that technology will come to the rescue of renewable energy intermittency. Unfortunately, the periodic table has been around for a while, so the likelihood of such a breakthrough is close to nil.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
March 9, 2021 5:17 pm

Mother nature has already solved the problem of intermittency: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 6:55 pm

Photosynthesis? Are you changing the subject to biomass? Trading in your EV for a Stanley Steamer? Seriously man, wind and solar are not just intermittent, they’re also incredibly diffuse in terms of output / area – a trait they also share with biomass and hydro. But you’re correct in one aspect – Mother Nature has indeed solved the problem of intermittency by sequestering abundant quantities of biomass over very long periods of time in the form fossil fuels. As you may have heard, these can be conveniently and reliably converted to useful energy as needed.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
March 9, 2021 7:19 pm

Just remember Frank, every time a neuron in brain fires, it’s because of photosynthesis/solar energy. Wood is made of glucose.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 7:33 pm

Don’t forget your meds, Brian. Oh, and wood is mostly composed of cellulose, so you might ask for a rebate from whatever powerhouse of a school you attended.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
March 9, 2021 7:57 pm

Cellulose is polymer made from glucose: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulose

It’s what cows eat.

Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 8:22 pm

Semantics matter. You said wood is made of glucose. Wrong.
Besides Cows don’t “consume” cellulose, the commensal bacteria in their gut convert the cellulose to nutrient substrates usable to the cow’s own digestive system.

Last edited 6 months ago by joelobryan
MarkW
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
March 10, 2021 10:43 am

Most grade schools don’t charge tuition.

fred250
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 10:00 pm

“every time a neuron in brain fires”

.

We are still waiting for one of yours to fire. !

Even a tiny feeble little spark, would be an improvement.

John Endicott
Reply to  fred250
March 10, 2021 4:10 am

He’d have to have one for it to fire. Judging by his postings, it’s doubtful he has any

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:42 am

How typical of Brian to not address anything that was actually in the post he’s responding to.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
March 9, 2021 7:31 pm

Frank, Brian thinks he’s smart. He’s just another Griff but dumber.

fred250
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 9, 2021 10:02 pm

I was wondering if so much ANTI-knowledge was possible.

Brianless keep proving it is. !

MarkW
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 10, 2021 10:45 am

One thing I’ve noticed about progressives. Almost to a man, they are convinced they are the smartest, most sophisticated people on the planet. While at the same time, repeatedly getting even the most basic things wrong.

Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 7:44 pm

After 3+ billion years of biological evolution, light-harvesting autotrophs haven’t “solved the problem of intermittency” of the sunlight on a diurnal schedule. They merely learned to cope with the dark, and perform the dark reactions of the Benson cycle then with light harvesting creation of redox potential suspended. In the plant world there is vicious evolutionary fight to outgrow competitors to stay in the light as well.

Maybe you think our modern society should just be “dark and powerless” at night. That is the direction the greentards are taking humanity. Are you a greentard? You read like one. The greentards are setting humanity on a energy competitive collision course with itself in wars that will make all those in the past puny by comparison.

Last edited 6 months ago by joelobryan
Brian Jackson
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 9, 2021 7:59 pm

Do potatoes store starch in their root systems?

Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 8:35 pm

Don’t worry Brian. With greentard thinking like yours, your fellow greens will have us all digging for potatoes just to survive in a few decades.

Earthling2
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 9, 2021 10:30 pm

Except the greentards will ensure there is a potato famine, just to ensure their policy of complete economic destruction and depopulation.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:45 am

Will Brian ever make a response that actually addresses the question he was asked?

fred250
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 9:59 pm

GREAT NEWS…. brianless is now ADVOCATING THE USE OF COAL

Finally a bit of common sense.

albeit accidentally.

DHR
Reply to  fred250
March 10, 2021 7:22 am

It seems he is advocating the use of potatoes I suppose.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
March 9, 2021 5:19 pm

Surely you aren’t telling us that unobtanium can’t perform magical miracles!

Doonman
March 9, 2021 4:33 pm

I’m experimenting with a lemon-penny-nickle battery. I already have a lemon tree, so the lemons are free. The electrodes only cost 6 cents. Six lemons and 36 cents later, and I can light an LED.

Observational proof that lemons can save the world. My tree is over 50 years old. It also sequesters carbon dioxide. Wheres my offset check?

Reply to  Doonman
March 9, 2021 8:54 pm

Unfortunately a US penny costs the US Mint more than penny to make. We should have gotten rid of the penny a decade ago.

I still have a cache of German pfennigs though you could use.

March 9, 2021 4:38 pm

While driving a Volkswagen Beetle on an interstate back in the 1970s, there was a large explosion dislodging the back seat in the beetle.

The battery, lead acid, had built up pressure and spontaneously exploded. Destroying the battery and splashing sulfuric acid across the back. Water hose and baking soda time.

At Sears, the clerk barely glanced at the battery shards; simply stating that they do blow up sometimes.
A replacement battery under the back seat and we were back on the road.

Figures BBC conflates hydrogen with energy. pretending wishes and dreams are reality…

MarkW
Reply to  ATheoK
March 10, 2021 10:54 am

I’d have asked the clerk to check the voltage regulator. Over charging could sometimes make the batteries go boom. If the voltage regulator was bad, your new battery wouldn’t last too long either.

Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 4:39 pm

” A simple industrial 24V effective 2.2KWh capacity battery presently costs $2107.”
..
Rud must never have heard of “economy of scale.”

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 4:40 pm

The current market for these batteries is quite small.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:55 am

Several hundred thousand a year is not “quite small”.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 5:30 pm

And Brian Jackson must never have heard that the cost of relatively scarce things like nickel responds to supply and demand. Nickel probably is more abundant than cobalt, but still, while manufacturing costs will go down with scale, component costs will probably increase.

Something else to consider is that everything is interconnected. If the widespread adoption of lithium-cobalt batteries increases the price of cobalt (which it almost certainly will), then things like high-speed tool steel used to machine many other things, will also increase in price, and be passed on to the cost of the end product even when it doesn’t contain cobalt.

A detailed analysis of the relationships and interconnected costs should be done before blithely suggesting that “economy of scale” will save the day.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 9, 2021 6:36 pm

There are other options besides cobalt in lithium ion batteries. For example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_ion_manganese_oxide_battery

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:59 am

And all of them have even poorer performance.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 6:02 pm

Well, yes as a Harvard econ summa, I have. So, a couple of econ of scale questions for you. Plus an hint answer.

  1. Why do SYP plywood mills never exceed 200 msf/year? Answer, woodshed radius.
  2. Why do nuclear single reactors seldom exceed 1MW per?

Bonus question, what basic economics relates the two answers that you do not understand?

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 9, 2021 6:40 pm

Led bulbs are cheaper than incandescent in the long run even with the higher initial capital outlay. Only happened when economy of scale lowered the cost of an led bulb.
.

Fcuk Harvard, MIT rules

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 6:43 pm

PS: Danny Devito 1989 “War of the Roses” ……good begining.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 6:57 pm

Oh yeah, Yale beats Harvard for law schools.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 7:04 pm

Seriously Rud, for someone as bright as you, why on earth do you waste your time on a blog that rejects science?

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 7:37 pm

Or are you here to sell your junk ebooks to the gullible dweebs?

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 11:08 am

Classic progressive line number two. Those who disagree with me are either evil, or being paid off.
In Brian’s case, it’s pretty obvious why he became a progressive, it was either than actually trying to think.

fred250
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 10:05 pm

What blog would that be, brianless one?

You are the only one here that is a scientific reject.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 11:07 am

Ah yes, classic progressive. It ain’t science unless I say it’s science.

You probably believe that models are science.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 11:07 am

So much hate, so little intelligence.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 11:45 am

Replying to yourself over-and-over is a kook sign.

fred250
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 2:30 am

Wherever you went…

…. it has provided a SEVERELY STUNTED education, brianless one.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 11:05 am

It really is amazing, the number of things Brian knows that simply aren’t true.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 9, 2021 7:03 pm

You don’t understand that mentioning “Harvard” is a logical fallacy. Economics is not science.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 11:09 am

Can you actually refute anything Rud said, or is stream of consciousness insults really the best you can manage.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 9, 2021 7:22 pm

Henry Ford proved economy of scale works.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 3:06 am

Henry also understood that if you convinced the market you had something they needed, or, even better, they were already convinced they needed, then they would buy it.

Simply producing something in mass doesn’t make a profit UNLESS you also have a market. I am sure all those E.T. Atari games used the latest manufacturing processes to make all those cartridges they threw into landfill.

Economy of scale is also finite. This is basic production. Materials are a constant. You are making reductions by reducing the labour costs (either by less direct interaction, or by getting more units per worker hour… or paying them less in third world sweat shops). Getting more units per hour made involves making things smarter and it is the investment in the process where you can start to save money. You build a new machine that does things twice as fast with half the operators, but that will only pay for itself if you then go on to make (and sell) a lot more units and you can never make a profit selling at less then the raw material cost.

That is for big production.

For small scale jobbing the costs are in the operator set up time. Again, materials are a constant, so no saving there, but it will take the operator the same amount of time to set up say a laser cutter or a punch to cut one item out of a massive sheet of 1.2mm steel as it will to set up the machine to cut out as many can fit on the base material. The actual cost of running the machine for slightly longer is minimal as they are generally very time efficient once they are set up and switched on. Again, you cannot manufacture at a profit if you are selling at less than your material costs. You can only streamline so far.

I worry about you, Brian. You seem to have spent a lot of time on this post making claims about things you clearly have no life experience with.

MarkW
Reply to  Craig from Oz
March 10, 2021 11:11 am

Economy of scale is a logarithmic function. Initially you can get big decreases. As volume increases, the improvement for each additional increase in volume decreases rapidly.

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 11:10 am

Nobody ever said it didn’t. It just isn’t the magic bullet that your non-functioning brain believes it to be.

Robert Austin
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 11, 2021 7:41 pm

Even Henry Ford had to make a per unit profit. Reminds one of the old joke that we lose money on each unit sold but make up for it on volume.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 9, 2021 8:20 pm

Rudd, unit error. GW not MW. Arizona’s PaloVerde NP station has 3 x 1,300 MW (1.3 GW) units.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 10, 2021 10:07 am

I think #2 should be why do they seldom exceed 1GW per. (Giga watt)

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 10:55 am

Another phrase that Brian uses, without bothering to understand it.

Tombstone Gabby
March 9, 2021 5:58 pm

“Then, either burn it in a gas turbine with just steam exhaust …”

Only if we use pure oxygen, ‘air’ still has nitrogen – nasty oxides.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Tombstone Gabby
March 9, 2021 7:07 pm

Nitrous Oxide is kind of funny.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 7:24 pm

Gas turbines run on anything from raw crude, kerosene to methane. You can fly a high bypass turbo jet on bio diesel.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 11:47 am

How many millions of acres of farmland have to be sacrificed to replace all jet fuel?

TonyG
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
March 10, 2021 12:57 pm

That’s not big deal anyway, just buy your food from the grocery store.
(yes, there are people who think that way)

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 3:07 am

Actually, I did smile at this. Credit where credit’s due.

Mr.
March 9, 2021 6:33 pm

Rud, there you go trying to convince us with NUMBERS again.

How should we FEEL about these issues, that’s what counts these days.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Mr.
March 9, 2021 8:00 pm

I suggest you talk to Kip Hansen, he wants to throw the numbers out.

Mr.
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 9:12 pm

Well, Kip knows that there’s numbers, and then there’s moronic numbers.
Guess which ones Kip wants to throw out.

fred250
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 9, 2021 10:06 pm

And you are TOTALLY CONFUSED by them. !

MarkW
Reply to  Brian Jackson
March 10, 2021 11:13 am

I see that while you may have read Kip’s article, you didn’t manage to understand it.

Loren C. Wilson
March 9, 2021 6:37 pm

Very informative article. Nice to have someone who can explain the details and the devils in them in a way that is theoretically correct but understandable for people with less chemistry. Just a note – helium is actually smaller than hydrogen because molecular hydrogen is composed of two hydrogen atoms.

DHR
Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
March 10, 2021 7:48 am

True regarding Helium, but Hydrogen diffuses through metals as atomic Hydrogen, not molecular Hydrogen. As an atom, Hydrogen is smaller.

Last edited 6 months ago by DHR
kzb
March 9, 2021 6:43 pm

It’s “the BBC”, not just “BBC”. Just like it’s “the USA”.

It is the abbreviation for the Brussels Broadcasting Corporation.

Interested Observer
Reply to  kzb
March 9, 2021 8:33 pm

No, these days it’s the Bullsh*t Broadcasting Corporation and it will stay that way until humanity finds a vaccine for Marxism.

Frank Frankfurter
March 9, 2021 7:43 pm
Pat from kerbob
March 9, 2021 8:57 pm

Rud, as an interesting side note, one of my favorite places I’ve visited is Como Italy, lake Como is amazing, but on the shore is a museum to Alexander Volta with many interesting exhibits of batteries and meters and other apparatus.

If ever in northern Italy

Last edited 6 months ago by Pat from kerbob
Rud Istvan
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
March 10, 2021 12:33 pm

Been there, done that, while living in Munich. Great weekend getaway spot.

Peta of Newark
March 9, 2021 10:34 pm

The little renewable energy forum I visit has been talking about NiFe batteries since forever.
Despite being Rabidly Green in outlook, contributors there don’t rate them.

Their ‘best battery’ is the Lead-Acid type found powering fork-lift (stacker) trucks.
But = A Lifestyle Choice. They need endless care & attention and DO NOT ever put a big one within 50 metres of your house.

Nickel is getting expensive (just look at the crazy prices now of NiMH rechargeable torch batteries – they were dirt cheap 10 years ago) and there’s not an especially lot of the Nickel just laying around around – world estimate = 300 million tonnes total
Compare: 7 Million tonnes of Cobalt in World toto

Plenty Iron in The World you’d think but then again, why is the physical and mental health of soooo many people nowadays trashed by Anaemia.

Mix Iron deficiency with Vitamin B deficiency (plant eating) andy ou get hideous childhood dementia(s)
yet another crazy thing

I always wonder, why don’t we use some of the Trapped Heat that CO2 so carefully stores for us……..

Back with dementia briefly to end on…
How often is it noted that pets, especially pet dogs, take on the personality of their owners?

If you do subscribe to that theory: This Is Scary

Last edited 6 months ago by Peta of Newark
March 9, 2021 10:46 pm

0.18*0.6) 0.11% Is a typo. Should be ~11%

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Hans Erren
March 11, 2021 7:14 pm

Yup. My bad in haste.

Leo Smith
March 10, 2021 2:51 am

The reality is that if it was that good we would all have been doing it years ago.

The difference between RealEngineers™ and ArtStudents™ (who populate the BBC and the media) is that ArtStudents™ think engineering is easy, you just specify the problem and pay a grease monkey to come up with the solution. RealEngineers™ know that in the RealWorld™ (a space devoid of ArtStudents™), mostly what physics , material science and engineering tells you is a million reasons why any given bright idea will not work, and then, of the few that are left, cost benefit analysis (a concept wholly alien to ArtStudents™, who are all paid with SomeoneElsesMoney™) rejects all but one or two, that both will work, and are cost effective solutions.

Which is why, in the RealWorld™m you will find that one airliner looks very much like another, and all bear more than a passing resemblance to seagulls. It happens to be the One Most Efficient aerodynamic and structural form for flying in BigOpenSpaces.
In engineering, the last thing you want is ‘diversity’ for its own sake.

Windmills and batrteries are hundreds of years old technology. We know pretty much all the limiting factors. Which is why we ended up with steam engines and internal combustion engines.

Until the world got taken over by ArtStudents™.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Leo Smith
March 10, 2021 6:22 am

brian.jackson10@talktalk.net
Absolutely brilliant real world summation.
Brian H Jackson UK, Mining Engineer, retired.

observa
Reply to  Leo Smith
March 11, 2021 5:49 am

The handmaiden of engineering is economics whereas for the arts it’s the handout.

Jan de Jong
March 10, 2021 5:01 am

Thank you. Some typos towards the end – superfluous commas – leading to 11% not 0,11%.

Steve Z
March 10, 2021 7:30 am

If a NiFe battery releases more hydrogen than a lead-acid battery, then the hydrogen would tend to build up pressure in the battery casing. Lead-acid batteries have removable caps so that water can be added to make up for lost electrolyte, and if there is too much hydrogen generated, the caps can be blown off. How does a NiFe battery protect against pressure buildup from hydrogen?

Lead-acid batteries, typically used in cars, use dilute sulfuric acid as an electrolyte, and sulfuric acid can easily be dissociated into H+ and either bisulfate (HSO4-) or sulfate (SO4=) ions. But if the electrolyte in a NiFe battery is aqueous potassium hydroxide (KOH), a very strong base, how is free hydrogen generated? In solution, KOH will dissociate into K+ and OH- ions–how is free hydrogen generated in a highly alkaline solution?

kzb
Reply to  Steve Z
March 10, 2021 7:44 am

Electrolysis of ANY aqueous dilute salt solution gives of hydrogen and oxygen.

Kit P
March 10, 2021 3:43 pm

Let me explain economy of scale of scale in economy of scale in the context of stationary power plants.

One 1000 MWe nuke plant with lower ghg emissions than a 5 MWe wind wind turbine will produce more electricity over the life of the each unit than 1,800 wind turbines. This is because of 3 times the capacity factor and 3 times the life of the plant.

The output of a nuke plant is not linear but based on the square of the radius of the reactor vessel. My last nuke plant in China was a 1600 MWe standard design EPR. Two are now running and civil work is complete for 6 more when the Chinese are ready to build them.

At another site, one EPR is being built next to two 800 MWe BWR like the ones I started up in the 80’s. The EPR building is a little bigger.

No batteries are required to store electricity. LWR load follow very nicely. I have operational experience on navy PWR and commercial BWR, and design experience on the EPR.

So there are different ways to achieve economy of scale besides construction. Maintenance must be considered. It takes about the same amount of time to change the oil on my Honda Civic Del Sol (4 quarts) as my Cummins ISB diesel (16 quarts) for m y motorhome.

Which one gets the job done by pulling the other?

Kit P
March 10, 2021 5:03 pm

A small class of people are battery snobs. They like to brag about how much they spend..

Batteries are batteries. Good at storing a very small amount of electricity.

I will admit that many years ago I did spend more for a Sears DieHard. Made a good movie title for those who enjoy suspending reality. Now I go to Walmart and buy the cheapest battery with the same capacity.

Then I got a sailboat. Batteries are safety equipment. Twice I have rendered assistance to inexperienced boaters (aka idiots). The first time there were children on board and it was very dark when the Coast Guard arrived. The second time when I got Mr. Expensive boat to safety he gave safety, he gave me his business card. If I had known he was a California personal injury trial attorney, he would still be waiting for the coast guard. At one point in the ordeal when he would not listen to my advice, I asked him if he knew what a eunuch was.

Any how, each time I needed to replace one of the batteries on my boat I researched the subject. Large marine batteries are either expensive or very expensive. I choose the former getting a standard marine PbA.

By taking care of then I have got them to last 8 seasons. Since the last two failed with a hydrogen explosion. Of course, the lesson after the first failure is to replace before it fails.

When I retired I got a classic motorhome (aka old). With 4 golf cart batteries and a big inverter, I can power a microwave and only need to run a generator for about an hour once a day if I conserve.

I can get the job done with 4 GC2 batteries for $100 each from Sam’s Club. Boring! If I spent $4000 on Lithium ion, I could explain my tech savvy. Then I can talk about my solar PV and my Tesla.

Wait a minute, I could just talk about my career in a disruptive technology called nuclear power.

EV and windmills were superseded by by disruptive technology along time ago.

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