A Brief History of Battery Developments

A Bailey Electric car powered by Edison's NiZn Battery

Relatively abundant and readily recyclable, both Nickel and Zinc offer appealing characteristics for a variety of industrial uses. Independently, both have been used in a number of battery technologies over the years. In fact, a century ago, Thomas Edison recognized the potential of nickel-zinc electrochemistry. He explored its development for use in high power, high energy demand applications such as powering miner's safety lamps. While the low cost, high energy density characteristics were promising, Edison's researchers ultimately settled on alternative electrochemistry that was easier to produce with the technological limitations of the time.

In more recent times, nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal-hydride chemistries (NiCd and NiMH) have been successfully commercialized and widely used for high demand applications. However, these technologies have reached technological limitations. While existing battery suppliers are taking advantage of their size and position, these technologies have matured and improvements in performance and capacity will be incremental. In addition, increased environmental restrictions are likely to impact their use.

A New Era for Nickel-Zinc

Past barriers to the successful development of a rechargeable NiZn battery have included problems with dendrite formation as well as passivation and shape change of the zinc electrode. PowerGenix has a patented electrolyte formulation that stabilizies the zinc electrode, enabling the cell to match NiCd levels of cycle life.

PowerGenix has further enhanced the performance of the cell with an electrode composition that avoids cobalt contamination of the zinc electrode and a negative cap design which lowers impedance and promotes uniform current density. These improvements have produced a dramatically more powerful and longer lasting cell, ideal for high-rate applications.