Friday 12 February, 2010

Green Battery Design


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Prototype DIY Nickel Iron Battery

Appropriate Technology Collaborative and Michigan State University Nickel Iron Battery Project

Nickel Iron Batteries have been around for a long time.  Edison patented one in 1903, and he wasn’t the inventor.  The batteries are rechargeable and they last a very long time.  Some NiFe batteries have been in service for over 50 years.

The materials that make up the battery are relatively non-toxic compared with what we are using in our cars and cell phones these days.  So, why don’t we use NiFe in our cell phones?

There are two big draw-backs to the NiFe battery.  1.  They need to be BIG.  Imagine carrying around a common brick attached to your cell.  You get the picture.  The energy density of the NiFe is pretty low.  2.  They are expensive.  Right now the only place to get NiFe batteries is a company that imports them from China.  Shipping adds to the high cost.

We are looking at NiFe batteries to go with our small home energy systems for low income people around the world.  In a rural setting a NiFe battery could be the best compliment to a solar, wind or other renewable energy system.  Solar lasts 20 – 40 years, so do LED lights, why shouldn’t the batteries?

The engineers working on our NiFe Battery are a Capstone Engineering design team from Michigan State University.  The team has made several prototypes and is making up a “cook book” on how to make your own batteries.

In developing countries we will work with local trades people to make batteries and service them in our renewable energy projects.  Instead of purchasing batteries from overseas we can source most of the parts we need locally.  This will create more jobs in the countries where we work while providing long term solutions for people who live off the grid.  A win-win-win!  (jobs, clean tech, access to electricity)

We plan on updating this site with developments as they happen.  Final documents will be available at www.apptechdesign.org


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