The battery invented 120 years before its time

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Edison batteries are all the rage in the prepper community due to much easier maintenance and better durability (charge/discharge cycles nearly infinite.) The drawbacks are mentioned, they are bigger, heavier and require much better ventilation. Had never given thought to the hydrogen production being useful. Just as a PITA requiring better planning for installation.


Lead-acid batteries (conventional car batteries) also produce hydrogen when charging. It’s a known hazard, and ventilation is always necessary. Do Edison batteries produce so much more that they must be treated differently?


Yep. Just get Hydrogen fuel cell =)

Kind of like how they (used to? Do?) flame off natural gas at petrochem plants.

Or used to throw away that pesky “gasoline” when making kerosene.


capture the hydrogen, to power a fuel cell, to … recharge the battery


Nickel iron batteries did find their niche. They’re used on big ships, and in some stationary installations where their specific advantage over lead-acid are worthwhile.


An interesting part of this technology is how it would fit into an integrated clean energy system.

Once you get above a certain percentage of renewable energy in the overall energy mix, the problem of intermittancy becomes a constraint on the system. Solar and Wind energy both have short term and long term peaks and troughs in output, which are presently being compensated for by ramping up and down the more highly dispachable fossil fuel generation.

Having both hydrogen and battery power as an output of this process raises the prospect of using the batteries to smooth out the daily fluctuations in consumption, while allowing the hydrogen production to smooth out the larger, more long term trends. This would cut the cost of having to build the huge amounts of batteries needed for energy storage to deal with annual fluctuations in power output.

Also, these look like they could be useful in the transition to clean power as well. One of the major problems that the next couple of decades will face is building renewable energy systems that work well alongside the phase-out of fossil fuels, as well as being a coherent system after the transition is complete. In places with a natural gas grid, this seems like it would be a way to utilise that grid to accept hydrogen/methane mixes on the way to going fully renewable. Link the battery to the grid, and it can be adding hydrogen to the gas grid when there is an excess of renewable power, and thermal stations can burn the progressively cleaner gas when there is a shortfall of renewables. This also allows disused gas wells to be used as longer-term hydrogen storage.


One of the biggest advantages to the nickel iron batteries is that they never ware out. Every other consumer battery losses capacity over time but not NiFe. There is a fellow out in Virginia specifically producing NiFe + solar cell + DC led lights for extremely rural/impoverished people. Normally NGOs give people lead acid batteries and an inverter. The inverter dramatically cuts into efficiency and the battery wares out after 3 years. The family chucks the battery into the back yard where the lead leaches into the soil.

His plan was to get his NiFe into west Africa where people spend horrendous amounts of their personal money to buy kerosene to create light at night. Couldn’t get any NGOs interested so him and his family/community have been installing them on the Navajo (Dine’) and Hopi reservations their technical documentation can be found here:


The problem is that it’s difficult to produce hydrogen.

Huh? Hydrogen is exceptionally easy to produce through electrolysis of water. All you need is a container of water, add any one of a variety of common salts to increase the conductivity of the water, a pair of electrodes, and a DC power supply. You’ll also produce oxygen. Needless to say, there’s a fire and explosion hazard, so don’t do this uness you know what you’re doing.

In March 2012, Professor Elizabeth Stone of Stony Brook University, an expert on Iraqi archaeology, returning from the first archaeological expedition in Iraq after 20 years, stated that she does not know a single archaeologist who believed that these were batteries

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