Author Topic: Best materials for cathode and anode in a battery  (Read 6144 times)

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nanotech

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Best materials for cathode and anode in a battery
« on: May 09, 2005, 10:57:03 PM »
I remember many years ago I saw a list of materials that would make the best battery when they were used as a cathode and an anode.


I seem to remember gold was the best at one end, but I don't remember what the metal was that was best at the other end.


Anyone have any idea what I'm talking about?


I'm just wondering if there's a way to make a better battery by using better internal components than making both the cathode and anode out of lead, which to me just doesn't make sense as the dissimilarity between them wouldn't produce much in the way of voltage.


Whereas if you had say a copper plate and an aluminum plate in acid, I would think the voltage would be higher...


Could very well be wrong, but I would still love to get my hands on that table of materials again if any of you would know what it would be called.

« Last Edit: May 09, 2005, 10:57:03 PM by (unknown) »

wooferhound

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2005, 06:06:06 PM »
There is a chart on this page

http://www.protroll.com/blkbox8.html

But when you make batteries the way you are describing, one of the metals will corrode away and your battery will not last very long.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2005, 06:06:06 PM by wooferhound »

thunderhead

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode ...
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2005, 12:56:36 AM »
What you are talking about is electrochemical potential.  The strongest metallic end is one of the alkali metals: something like lithium, sodium or potassium.  These dissolve in water quite violently, though, so if you want to build a battery with them, you need to use something else but water for the electrolyte.  (Lithium ion batteries normally use organic solvents, things like carbon tetrachloride - dry cleaning fluid.)


For the other end you need something like oxygen, sulphur, or a halogen.  


The best way to work it out is to look at the periodic table.  Ignore the noble gases, and pick elements on the top right for one end and the bottom left on the other.  So flourine and potassium are probably as good as you are going to get.  


Sodium and sulphur are a good approximation: http://www.avere.org/working/en/traction.html#s-s


If I were attempting to build rechargeable cells for off-grid energy storage, I'd experiment with Edison cells.  An Edison-type cell could be built with cheap, non-toxic reagents, like nickel, iron, and sodium hydroxide (drain cleaner).  No other battery chemistry is possible with household chemicals, and no other battery chemistry is sufficiently non-toxic to be safe for home construction.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 12:56:36 AM by thunderhead »

Texas Al

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode ...
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2005, 03:34:06 AM »
I agree, though something about "no battery chemistry" is just begging for someone to come up with one. ;-) Also, it's not clear to me why a CuZn battery can't be recharged. Is it because the Cu, Zn, and the electrolyte undergo some kind of irreversible reaction and precipitate out?


Anyway, Fe and NaOH are pretty widely available. Does anybody know of an "over the counter" source for Ni or Ni oxides? I've found some commercial suppliers but I have a hunch it might be cheaper if we knew which variety of trash we could recycle it from.


Also, it looks like turning powdered metal oxide into a paste that will stay put inside a battery is not documented anyplace I've looked so far (including Secrets of Lead Acid Batteries by T.J. Lindsay, which is otherwise a very useful book for understanding batteries in general). I believe that if a small volume of non water-based glue or paste is mixed with the powder, it will hold its shape without insulating too many of the granules from each other.


Also, would I be correct in assuming that the grid that holds the NiO2 paste cannot be iron the way it is in lead-acid batteries, since iron is the electrode? And if that's the case, then doesn't it mean that it also cannot be anything with a redox potential between that of Fe and NiO2?

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 03:34:06 AM by Texas Al »

Texas Al

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2005, 07:06:35 AM »
I'm wrong. Edison cells don't use paste. They use perforated steel containers for both the Fe and Ni sides. Found motherlode of information about this sort of stuff, will post after I'm done downloading (it's a slow connection, don't want to kill their server).
« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 07:06:35 AM by Texas Al »

nothing to lose

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode ...
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2005, 08:45:39 AM »
"If I were attempting to build rechargeable cells for off-grid energy storage, I'd experiment with Edison cells.  An Edison-type cell could be built with cheap, non-toxic reagents, like nickel, iron, and sodium hydroxide (drain cleaner)."


Oh dear here I go onto yet another project I geuss.

 So if I take a long string of nickels, Rear axle shaft from a car, fill a 55gal barrel with lye and water mixture how many amps will I get :)

Is that at 2 volt per cell so I would need 6 55gal barrels for a 12V system?


Actually although joking about a string of nickles you do have me thinking about this one. $10 each (maybe $8) for 55gal teflon lined veggie oil barrels. Or $6 each for plastic 35Gal barrels. I got all the iron/steel I would need, Lye (drain cleaner) is cheap (alot less than batteries anyway) so where would I get the Nickle? Use Nickles? cheap enough, 20 for a buck :)


 I have tried to look into this at least once before, but I got talk pages about it with google searches but no real info about how they are built.


I just found this one


"The result was the "nickel-iron" cell, or "Edison cell", and though it still lives on in industrial uses, it never came close to displacing the lead-acid battery. The Edison cell uses an iron anode, a nickel oxide cathode, and a potassium hydroxide electrolyte.

The Edison cell provides a voltage of about 1.15 volts per cell. Its main virtue is that it is extremely rugged, tolerating discharge treatment that would ruin other types of storage cells, and has a very long service life. "


Still no details how to build them or amps per square feet :)

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 08:45:39 AM by nothing to lose »

nothing to lose

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2005, 08:50:38 AM »
Glad to know  someone found something useful, I hope.


" NICKEL-IRON (EDISON) CELL:


   anode:           iron

   cathode:         nickel oxide

   electrolyte:     potassium hydroxide

   cell voltage:    1.15 volts


   Heavy-duty rechargeable unit, used in some industrial applications."


Lots of battery info tlak at


http://www.vectorsite.net/ttfuelc1.html


But not really any info how to build them. Kinda history and what cells/batteries are, interesting though.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 08:50:38 AM by nothing to lose »

Texas Al

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode ...
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2005, 08:52:31 AM »
Hold on there, buddy. Just a few more minutes and I'll post the link to the renewable energy and renewable everything-else CD image from hell for all of you to Slashdot. ;-)


It doesn't exactly go into step-by-step instructions, but it has the most detailed explanation of Edison cells I've seen so far.


Aren't nickel coins an alloy of nickel and something else? And if you're going to literally burn money, wouldn't it be more cost effective to use the same amount of money to buy nickel wire or strips or something from a commercial supplier?

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 08:52:31 AM by Texas Al »

Texas Al

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2005, 09:12:45 AM »
Whew, okay, finally! Here is the link for the iso image I found. Lots of farming and other sustainable-tech info on here too. It contains 25 executable archives which contain 67983 different files (and hell yes I'm going to run a virus scanner on them and you should too).


http://gnuveau.net:81/cd.iso


I'll be putting mine on Shareazaa/Gnutella when I get home from the lab tonight, so if you can't download it, search the file-sharing networks for cd3wd.iso, with a little luck it will filter out there in a few days.


PS: I'm not pirating anything nor instigating piracy. As far as I can tell, this is all public information and judging from what the compilers of this collection are saying on their site (http://www24.brinkster.com/alexweir/CD3WD/index.htm) this is exactly what they want to happen.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 09:12:45 AM by Texas Al »

nothing to lose

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode ...
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2005, 09:24:56 AM »
Actually yes probably would be cheaper to buy nickle in various forms.

I found some interesting things too this time in searching. Never found these pages before myself, must have got a search phrase right for once. I'll look and see what yours is, if anything extra is in the ones I found I will post them too later.


Found some things about the cells being thin plated flakes, alternate layers of copper and nickle  making many layers, then cut into small sheets and put into a solution to disolve the copper back out. That sounds complicated, but if anyone wants to try that methode latter I can probably plate the sheets up, not sure how to disolve out the copper yet. Then they pressed the flakes together I think it said.


I might try making iron/paper towel/nickle plate setup, it may not work but it will be easy to try :)


For now I think I will take a nap, long night, no sleep, got 2 scrap yard trojans I have to test later. About $5.50 each and was holding 6V each, all cells bubble nicely on the charger so far. Should be good after charging and pulse charging looks like. Charge them up first and test them to see how they work,then pusle charge a few days and test again. See if it really helps using the brand I bought.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 09:24:56 AM by nothing to lose »

nothing to lose

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2005, 09:34:38 AM »
Oh great, and my ISP went out of business where I had the lan connection to the net servers too! A whole CD?? How many megs is it actually though, I geuss an Iso can be any size, not always have to be 650megs!


I won't be able to get one till late tonight or tommorow, they shut down thier T1's but was supposed to get DSL so I will have that at the office anyway. 34K dialup don't cut it at home though for such things.


 Now I see why you said they were slow and it was taking awhile, I thought it was just an online file like large PDF or so.


Let us know what you think of it, and of course if you find viruses or any bad thingies.


Time for that nap, now

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 09:34:38 AM by nothing to lose »

Texas Al

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2005, 10:23:08 AM »
672,146 kb!


Not just one PDF. From the looks of this thing so far, /all/ of them.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 10:23:08 AM by Texas Al »

nothing to lose

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2005, 04:03:45 PM »
I may try to grab it when I take the kid to school in the morning then, if they have the DSL working yet.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 04:03:45 PM by nothing to lose »

Texas Al

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2005, 05:24:30 PM »
Okay, CD3WD.iso is on Shareazaa

It's 656.38 Mb in size and is listed as a ROM image.


I scanned it for viruses and found none, but you should scan it too before you run any of the archive files, just in case.


My instinct tells me that it's somehow unwise to post IP addresses on a public forum, but here's a subnet where you might get lucky...


67.11..


I'll find a place to mirror it, and post that. Anybody know what the laziest way to put something onto BitTOrrent is?

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 05:24:30 PM by Texas Al »

nothing to lose

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2005, 10:18:08 PM »
Ok more new things for me to mess with :)

What is Shareazaa?

I am still in the Kazzaa lite mode, I don't use P2P much, mostly just updateing PD and sharware programs and transfering large work back and forth to a couple clients. Not been doing much of any of that for awhile either.


Is Shareazaa free, and is it full of spyware like Kazzaa?

« Last Edit: May 10, 2005, 10:18:08 PM by nothing to lose »

thunderhead

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode ...
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2005, 12:59:52 AM »
Found some things about the cells being thin plated flakes, alternate layers of copper and nickle  making many layers, then cut into small sheets and put into a solution to disolve the copper back out. That sounds complicated, but if anyone wants to try that methode latter I can probably plate the sheets up, not sure how to disolve out the copper yet. Then they pressed the flakes together I think it said.


The whole point is to get lots and lots of surface area.  The best solution for the home constructor, as I see it, is to use wire.  0.09mm diameter wire would be about 1mMol per metre, and have a surface area per metre of 283 square mm.  If you could get 5μm of Ni(OH)2 on the surface, that would use 10% of the electrode for electrochemical storage, which would mean that 1m of wire would store about 9.6 coulombs.  Since that wire weighs just under 60μg per metre, storing 1000Ah - 3,600,000 coulombs - would take 375km of wire, which sounds like a lot, until you realise it would only weigh 22.5kg.


If you were trying to run your whole house by it, you'd want someone to supply nickel wire wool.  But given the similar mechanical characteristics of iron and nickel, I'd have thought you could get it made by the people who make normal wire wool.  Think of a string of 40 batteries, each weighing 50kg, with a nominal terminal voltage of 50v and a capacity of 1000Ah.  Not much good for EVs - my pet interest - but fine for storing 50kWh of home power.


Wire wool is an expensive way to buy metal, but it's not nearly as expensive as the reagents used in more esoteric battery technologies.  And it's environmentally friendly. :-)


Nickel wire for experiments is available from http://www.wires.co.uk/ and, I'm sure, elsewhere.  I've put in my wife's kitchen now, so I might buy a reel and try some experiments. :-)

« Last Edit: May 11, 2005, 12:59:52 AM by thunderhead »

thunderhead

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2005, 01:11:29 AM »
I'm wrong. Edison cells don't use paste. They use perforated steel containers for both the Fe and Ni sides.


For the nickel electrode, looking at Edison's original design is probably not sensible.  The chemistry of NiFe is essentially the same as NiCd, so the nickel electrode will likely be identical.


Pocket plate is probably the way to go.

« Last Edit: May 11, 2005, 01:11:29 AM by thunderhead »

Texas Al

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2005, 03:37:15 AM »
Shareazaa is the Kazaa with the spyware ripped out and some features added. So, not too different from Kazaa Lite. They access the same network. BitTorrent is something different (and better) but I've been too lazy to figure it out.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2005, 03:37:15 AM by Texas Al »

nothing to lose

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2005, 08:44:50 AM »
Oh ok.

Well if they get the DSL setup sometime I'll try to find it and download it. They ordered the DSL and had a new line put in to run it on (existing phone lines were a mess), but no modem has shown up yet for it.

 I do get about 50K dailup there now :(

Not good! I had T1, waaa haa haa!!
« Last Edit: May 12, 2005, 08:44:50 AM by nothing to lose »

Texas Al

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode in a batt
« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2005, 10:33:05 AM »
As far as I can tell, the torrent tracker is this...


dht://0498FCC212CD788B4844F8C0C518E7A675D6D85F.dht/announce


Here is the torrent file, hopefully it gets through...

http://www.otherpower.com/images/scimages/3698/cd3wd.ISO.torrent


I hope I'm doing this right, I've never seeded a new file onto torrent-space yet.

« Last Edit: May 12, 2005, 10:33:05 AM by Texas Al »

Nando

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Re: Best materials in a battery
« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2005, 09:13:04 AM »
If you are going to experiment with the EDISON battery, better learn what has to be done to attain the output current density you desired.


The Electrodes have to have a very large WET area or the current capabilities are reduced.


My family imported some of those in the early 1900 and some are still alive and well.


There are some articles about Alva Edison where the history of the battery development may be described.


Nickel was done by fabricating nickel flakes to increase the area 1000's folds.


Regards


Nando

« Last Edit: May 25, 2005, 09:13:04 AM by Nando »

thunderhead

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Re: Best materials in a battery
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2005, 10:57:14 PM »
If you are going to experiment with the EDISON battery, better learn what has to be done to attain the output current density you desired.


The Electrodes have to have a very large WET area or the current capabilities are reduced.


The nickel electrode is the same chemistry as NiCd or NiMH: so we can learn by observing nearly a century of development in these chemistries.


Recently NASA published a paper where they'd used "nickel felt" for the nickel electrode - that is, they'd used nickel wire wool.  They had got something light and reliable enough for spaceships.  The other electrode was a hydrogen-adsorbed electrode (as NiMH) but the nickel electrode is chemically identical.


My family imported some of those in the early 1900 and some are still alive and well.


That (and the environmental and constructor friendliness of the reagents) is why people here are so interested. :-) :-) :-)

« Last Edit: May 25, 2005, 10:57:14 PM by thunderhead »

Texas Al

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode ...
« Reply #22 on: December 24, 2005, 04:38:56 PM »
Is this different from the Galvanic Series?


B/c if the further apart two metals are on that series the higher the voltage, why aren't people making zinc-graphite batteries?

« Last Edit: December 24, 2005, 04:38:56 PM by Texas Al »

Texas Al

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode ...
« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2005, 04:41:34 PM »
I'm getting close to having time to try this (nickel-plating steel wool pads) finally. As it happens, someone lent me a power supply for welding. Does anybody know if welding power supplies can also be used for electroplating? Any special considerations to keep in mind? Thanks.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2005, 04:41:34 PM by Texas Al »

Texas Al

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Why aren't Zn-Cu cells rechargeable?
« Reply #24 on: December 24, 2005, 04:45:04 PM »
Let's not assume any elaborate battery configurations where one of the electrodes forms the case of the battery, etc. Let's say you just have a container of electrolyte with zinc and copper electrodes submerged in it, and a porous barrier to keep them from shorting.


So, what is it about the reaction that prevents the battery from being recharged? Is it simply a matter of the corroded form of one or both electrodes being non-conductive and fragile, and sedimenting at the bottom of the container? Or is it something more complicated?


Thanks.

« Last Edit: December 24, 2005, 04:45:04 PM by Texas Al »

thunderhead

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Re: Best materials for cathode and anode ...
« Reply #25 on: January 24, 2006, 11:58:43 PM »
...why aren't people making zinc-graphite batteries?


If you take apart an ordinary plain old-fashioned torch (flashlight) battery, you will find a zinc can and a graphite rod. :-)

« Last Edit: January 24, 2006, 11:58:43 PM by thunderhead »

thunderhead

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Re: Why aren't Zn-Cu cells rechargeable?
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2006, 12:01:05 AM »
One problem is, as you suggest, that the zinc doesn't re-plate easily.


Another problem is that when you recharge it, the copper will go into solution.  If you over-charge it, copper will plate the zinc electrode and the battery will be ruined.

« Last Edit: January 25, 2006, 12:01:05 AM by thunderhead »