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Nickel-Iron Batteries

Tal Sammons


Joined: Dec 15, 2011
Posts: 10
So im wondering if this is worth the initial cost. "if i could even afford"
battery_specs.htm
Tal Sammons


Joined: Dec 15, 2011
Posts: 10
On a side note it would be great to show some local support for a MT business
Kevin Pegg


Joined: Apr 02, 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Smithers, BC Canada
Nickel Iron batteries are expensive, they last forever, and they are terribly inefficient. IE the amount of energy that goes into charging them is many times the energy you get out of them. I've not had the opportunity to test them personally. But I've had many people trying to sell me these and dismiss concerns for efficiency as being relevant, and they lost me right there. It depends on priorities.

Tal Sammons


Joined: Dec 15, 2011
Posts: 10
I am baffled by the whole thing.
just got a cabin with 40 acres with abundant trees no power or water
My intention is to power a generator using a gasifier. Currently i have 2 gennys to use, 1. 5500w gas 2. watt propane
i want to add solar and wind as funds become avail.
I am wondering how much "battery" its gonna take to run the chest freezer, 2 computers, tv with x-box (randomly) and a couple of other household power vamps ie: alarm clocks and such
Is it more prudent to use propane instead of the gasifier to run the 5kw worth of 12hrs / day for the business.
the idea being that the gasifier has to be loaded and warmed before gas is produced "is this me just being lazy"
need to know how much propane is used for 24/7 operation versus pounds of wood. I heard that 2 lbs wood = 1 gal gas
Kevin Pegg


Joined: Apr 02, 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Smithers, BC Canada
Hi Tal,

It can be baffling but this process can be smoothed out. But there are a lot of details. Here's how I go about designing systems:

- Create an energy budget and understand how many kWh per day of energy you need. This is a key process, a tedious task, but of critical importance. If you are generating your own power, you should know how much you need. This is all easier said than done. Firstly, no appliance label actually tells you how much power it _really_ uses; it focuses on the theoretical and is usually overstated by 30%. Ideally you take a power meter like the kill-a-watt and find out how much power something really uses. Bit of a pain, but good data means good system design. There's a template for this here: http://www.energyalternatives.ca/SystemDesign/default.html
- you will learn that phantom loads are absolutely deadly and unless you have lots of money and a big system are best avoided at all costs. That clock radio, persistently sucking energy can use more daily power than a microwave or kettle.
- then I figure out what nature offers you for energy. Solar, wind, microhydro and what it will take to generate that power, keeping in mind seasonal variations. That's a whole topic unto itself.
- it sounds like your plan is to use a generator to cycle charge batteries, so that you have 24hr power, and the generator runs as needed to charge batteries. There is a science to doing this efficiently. I've seen so many people wasting so much time and energy they'd be better off just running the generator 24x7 and use less fuel. There are losses and inefficiencies during the charge/discharge cycle so yes it's really possible to burn more fuel by cycle charging if not done right. To the subject line of Nickel Iron that's the wrong technology for cycle charging for sure. I've done a lot of these systems and currently building a 180 kW system to power an entire off-grid community.
- I can't speak directly to gasification; great if you can make it work, it's certainly doable and established knowledge. It is a significant effort for sure though unless you can somehow store the gas for later use. I'm not a fan of propane - very expensive fuel to burn, fussy engines and hard to find mechanics in some areas. Diesel is lowest cost fuel to burn / highest cost engine. Good for biodiesel options.
- common, true deep cycle motive power batteries like L16's or golf carts work well for cycle charging. I've got entire remote wilderness resorts running on L16's. Sizing of this will depend on your loads and how often you want to run the gen.
- You will want a good sized 24 or 48V inverter (12V is a real pain and best skipped) with a big robust battery charger integrated (called and inverter/charger - way better than two separate devices), so you can charge the batteries up as fast as possible by running the generator, and then the inverter will provide power when no generator.
- A system status meter tells you where your system is at capacity wise.
- as more renewables come online, your reliance on the generator is less and less.
- solar is very cheap these days and last forever. Fossil fuels are expensive and one time use. So it's a balance of how much fuel now vs solar later - but the sooner you can stop spending money on fossils and redirect to renewables the better.

Hope that helps.

Kevin



Tal Sammons


Joined: Dec 15, 2011
Posts: 10
so hows this its the one im leaning towards
Ebay





or this
Ebay does $2k seem like alot?


Or this
ebay this is only 760 but is it big enough


Also is it better 24v or 48v?
arild jensen


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: New Hazelton BC zone 3 lat 56 north
Go 48V if possible
arild jensen


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: New Hazelton BC zone 3 lat 56 north
While I agree with kevin that NiFe batteries have lower efficiencies than lead acid the characteristics of NiFe means you can use them on a different cycle than Lead Acid. Much also depends on what your charging source is. Micro hydro which runs 24/7 can over come the limitations of solar PV Because you can discharge NiFe much deeper without damage, and you can use a smaller amp hour capacity battery bank. Kevin and I both live in high latitudes so winter months have very limited insolation and a genset is a must for January and much of Feburary. Even with a miccro hydro operation winter time typically has lowest flow rate so this may not be sufficient and if the water flow is impeded by ice that is yet another restriction on electricity production.
As Kevin says proper charging cycling is inportant for best fuel economy. Properly matching equipment to each other is also important.
In fact for our northern location which requires home heating for several months a micro co-gen system makes a lot of sense.
Mark Vee


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 1
Have a look at the new REDFLOW battery systems in Australia. They may answer some needs
arild jensen


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: New Hazelton BC zone 3 lat 56 north
One of the common aspects of almost all the posts asking about potential off grid power systems is the fact most posters do not have a clear idea of exactly how much power they need nor of when and how much the peak power demand will be. This makes it almost impossible to accurately assess what will be a good system. NiFe batteries are slightly less efficient than lead acid. If they are charged by an adequate continuous source like a micro or mini hydro-electric source this is less significant than if the charge source was solar panels. Load demand is also a significant issue. NiFe can stand up to high peak demand cycles and deep discharges somewhat better than lead acid and when the battery needs refreshing you only need to replace the low cost electrolyte not the entire battery as you do with lead acid. For those concerned with environmental damage the NiFe electrolyte is less damaging that sulphuric acid or lead.
Sometimes we need to look at long term life cycle costs instead of just the up front cost.
arild jensen


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: New Hazelton BC zone 3 lat 56 north
Mark Vee
Do you have some experience or knowledge of the Red Flow battery system apart from what you have read in the brochure?
If so, please share.
arild jensen


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: New Hazelton BC zone 3 lat 56 north
Tal Sammons, Unless you have a need for 5500 watts, the smaller genset is likely to be a bettery choice. ( other factors being equal)
Internal combustion engines including those burning fuels other than petroleum were designed to run best with certain conditions in mind.
This includes loading which in turns results in engine parameters such as combustion chamber temperatures, cimbustion pressures and so on.
I know of one off grid installation where the dealer anxous to maximize their profit sold an over sized genset for backup.
The inevitable result was a mechanical disaster. The home was 100% solar but in January after prolonged cloudy conditions and short daylight hours it was necessary to run the backup genset to recharge the battery bank.
The genset was 12kW and way over sized. AS a result the engine never got up to a good operating temp and the piston rings never sealed properly. the resultant blow by pressurized the crankcase and blew oil out the shaft seal. the poor owner not being a mechanic naturally called the dealer to replace a 'defective' shaft seal. same result. Finally the dealer replaced the by now discontinued generator with another model having even more power and similar problems. After a couple of years struggling with this 'unsolvable' problem the off grid owner was fit to be tied and as the warranty had by then expired , he was stuck with the bills. The sad thing about this story was the solution would have been to select the correct size smaller genset and matching the generator with the right size load. Evidently none of the people involved were experienced engine mechanics and thus failed to correctly diagnose the original engine problem.
Marcos Buenijo
pollinator

Joined: Dec 18, 2011
Posts: 583
Location: Southwest U.S.
    
  12
Tal Sammons wrote:I am baffled by the whole thing.
just got a cabin with 40 acres with abundant trees no power or water
My intention is to power a generator using a gasifier. Currently i have 2 gennys to use, 1. 5500w gas 2. watt propane
i want to add solar and wind as funds become avail.
I am wondering how much "battery" its gonna take to run the chest freezer, 2 computers, tv with x-box (randomly) and a couple of other household power vamps ie: alarm clocks and such
Is it more prudent to use propane instead of the gasifier to run the 5kw worth of 12hrs / day for the business.
the idea being that the gasifier has to be loaded and warmed before gas is produced "is this me just being lazy"
need to know how much propane is used for 24/7 operation versus pounds of wood. I heard that 2 lbs wood = 1 gal gas


It takes about 13 pounds of wood at 15-20% moisture to equal one gallon of propane. Green wood is about 50% moisture, so it takes about 21-22 pounds of green wood to equal one gallon of propane. If you're using a gasifier to charge a battery system at a constant rate, and you take some care to optimize the efficiency, then I expect the system to consume about 10 pounds of green wood for every KWh of electricity provided by the battery/inverter system. I am assuming 15% net thermal efficiency in the gasifier engine system, then another 50% losses in the alternator, charger, battery, and inverter.

Also, consider a Diesel engine. Diesels convert well to wood gas. This will also reduce your wood fuel consumption by about 30%. A small Diesel engine at 1800 rpm would be the best candidate because the flame velocity of wood gas is low (these engines also last a long time). If the system is set up to operate at a constant power, then the conversion would involve merely admitting wood gas to the Diesel air intake stream, then throttling the wood gas to the point where 90% of the fuel is provided by the gasifier and only 10% provided by Diesel fuel (primarily for ignition). The governor would always inject enough Diesel to control engine speed. However, it would be important to keep the generator loaded at a certain minimum, otherwise the engine could overspeed. This is so because wood gas would continue to be admitted to the engine. The governor should stop injecting Diesel fuel at a certain point, but I've heard many independent claims that Diesel engines have run on 100 wood gas for extended periods. Perhaps a high voltage or high frequency trip could shut down the generator to protect the system, but I'm speculating. This shouldn't be a big problem with battery charging, and a diversion load on the battery would help.

The best configuration I can imagine off hand is to charge the battery over several hours each day making sure to power the freezer during the same time (perhaps directly off the generator to reduce energy conversion losses, and you might operate other loads off the generator while the battery is charging). Place a thermal mass in your freezer in the form of bottles of salt water (to lower the freezing point of the water). This can carry the freezer through to the charging cycle on the following day and prevent the freezer from ever discharging your battery system. Some other ideas include making full use of the heat in the engine exhaust for such applications as (1) preheating the air before it is admitted to the gasifier, (2) drying the next batch of wood to be used in the gasifier, and (3) water heating.

NOTE: Consider a "small" lead acid forklift battery for the system.
arild jensen


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: New Hazelton BC zone 3 lat 56 north
Something I had almost forgotten about. Cruising sailors used to have freezer systems called cold plates where you froze eutectic fluids in holding plates then you could leave the system alone for 24 hours. Seeing Marcos description of wood gasification and freezer systems are charged up once per day then left alone for the remainder.
This makes the best use of available generator capacity while removing the need for continuous or cyclical running of the generator.
Although I have designed a lot of inverter based systems I am only all too aware that there is often a better way but customer insistence on maximum convenience ( theirs) often means less than optimum operation. Hopefully serious off-grid users will be more willing to seek optimizationof efficiency over convenience.
We should also remember that while electrification is often the most convenient way there are other more mechanical methods available.
Marcos Buenijo
pollinator

Joined: Dec 18, 2011
Posts: 583
Location: Southwest U.S.
    
  12
arild jensen wrote:Hopefully serious off-grid users will be more willing to seek optimizationof efficiency over convenience.
We should also remember that while electrification is often the most convenient way there are other more mechanical methods available.


Exactly! I've come to the same conclusion, and this is one of the reasons I study old technologies. It's unfortunate, but when people today consider "alternative" energy technologies, they automatically consider different ways to generate electricity. Well, that's just asinine! For example, one of the most promising systems I've considered is a central ammonia absorption system powered by a small biomass furnace. The refrigerant could "cascade" through an evaporator coil placed in a highly insulated space to provide a deep freezer before moving through the evaporator of an air conditioning system. The condenser can be used to heat water, and the system could also be configured for space heating during the winter months while still providing refrigeration. The system would be work intensive to build properly, but conceptually it's remarkably simple (including the feedback control systems).

Personally, I think electricity should be reserved only for those applications that cannot do without it.
arild jensen


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: New Hazelton BC zone 3 lat 56 north
Kevin Pegg wrote:Nickel Iron batteries are expensive, they last forever, and they are terribly inefficient. IE the amount of energy that goes into charging them is many times the energy you get out of them.


Kevin this point about efficiencies seem to have different values depending on your data source. My information is NiFe are 70% while lead Acid is 80% efficient. In high school our electrical lab was powered by NiFe cells not lead acid. While I was not aware of thexact selection process criteria I know the person responsible was a knowledgable and sensible expert. Being in a school environment, safety was obviously a significant criteria. High surge demand load ( inverters) was also a significant criteria because our motor generators in the lab started at random and frequently. In a typical household running on an inverter this is fairly common also.
Because you can surge these harder and discharge them deeper you do not need as large a bank compared to lead acid. Yes it is true NiFe will cost more the long term life cycle cost is lower. Because most people do not fully understand the proper care and feeding of batteries, they often end up having to replace them after only a few years. One premature replacement cost far more than a 15% - 25% premium on the initial capital outlay for NiFe properly sized.
arild jensen


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: New Hazelton BC zone 3 lat 56 north
It would appear Marcos and I have some ideas in common. His posted ideas touch on yet another technology called co-generation ir more properly micro co-gen where an internal combustion engine also provides waste heat for use elsewhere such as building heat or dryong wood as a prepfor wood gasification.
Interestingly enough the most popular engine for use in such applications is a pre war design currently being cloned in both India and China for farm use such as driving irrigation pumps. Being liquid cooled it is an easy task to run hot water to remote radiators but enthusiasts have als experimented with exhaust pupe exchangers to recover waste exhause heat.
Troy Martz


Joined: Aug 16, 2012
Posts: 6
    
    1
For all you people living in Montana interested in NiFe, the best in the business lives down in Dillon. His name is Hank Muntzer, and he builds NiFe batteries right in his shop... These are the only "Made in the USA" NiFe's on the market. I'll be working with Hank soon, and we're set to blow the lid off some of the false data about nickel iron batteries. We will be publishing test data on every aspect of performance. They perform quite well when compared to lead acid, are far superior in some cases. There are some downsides, as with anything, but these aren't in the performance arena, and certainly not with the longevity.

Stay tuned... More info to come...

- BigDaddy
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1404
Location: Chihuahua Desert
Troy Martz wrote:For all you people living in Montana interested in NiFe, the best in the business lives down in Dillon. His name is Hank Muntzer, and he builds NiFe batteries right in his shop... These are the only "Made in the USA" NiFe's on the market. I'll be working with Hank soon, and we're set to blow the lid off some of the false data about nickel iron batteries. We will be publishing test data on every aspect of performance. They perform quite well when compared to lead acid, are far superior in some cases. There are some downsides, as with anything, but these aren't in the performance arena, and certainly not with the longevity.

any chance he'll tell us how to make them? Ed over at Ed's workshop has made some. I don't have any data on it, but it seemed kinda reasonable to do.

The world really needs an open source battery.

If I had the money, I would definitely buy those kinds of batteries. Trouble is, they are usually 4-6 times the cost of lead acid (or more). The cost works out over a few decades, but still, it is a large investment, and most people just don't have the capital to invest. I often wonder why no one is offering financing on these batteries. Seems like it would be a win-win. Something like a simple 4-5 year payback, 10% down, a bit of interest, and boom, you would beat lead-acid on initial cost by a good margin and take the sting out of NiFe.


Living off grid - guides for the off grid lifestyle in the modern age
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Morgan Morrigan


Joined: Oct 16, 2011
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
Graphene battery is coming.

It uses sheets of graphene , and regular water as electrolyte.
graphene wets out, and naturally spaces the next plate away at the optimal distance.
no toxic electrolytes either.

think this can also be charged by heat, as there is another story about that.
They show that it can be used as a heat sink, and directly convert heat to electric.


Get involved -Take away the standing of corporations MovetoAmmend.org
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1404
Location: Chihuahua Desert
Morgan Morrigan wrote:Graphene battery is coming.

It uses sheets of graphene , and regular water as electrolyte.
graphene wets out, and naturally spaces the next plate away at the optimal distance.
no toxic electrolytes either.

think this can also be charged by heat, as there is another story about that.
They show that it can be used as a heat sink, and directly convert heat to electric.


any idea on cost or availability? DIY plans?
Rick Larson


Joined: Aug 04, 2012
Posts: 210
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
Having a local business install a 2 KW system on my roof with one of these 24 volt nickel iron batteries in the loop. Using a FLEXpower Two controller that will also be hooked into a net meter and install a circuit box for powering the solar water heater pump, solar air heater fan, and an outlet independent of the net meter that can be used for the wood burning furnace motor.

My goal was to have all the components in place for future expansion of electricity production - as this equipment is pricey!


Soaking up information.
Rick Larson


Joined: Aug 04, 2012
Posts: 210
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
100 day wait on the battery.
Morgan Morrigan


Joined: Oct 16, 2011
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
havn't seen any plans on the graphene battery yet.
the trick is to separate the graphite into separate sheets, so the edge effects, and phonon effects can take over.
am thinking the best way is going to be explosive - literally.

that means slamming it with a shock wave. Havn't seen anyone try that in research yet, but it one of only a few ways to mod materials, and think it is the most effective way for this material.


Some great info out there on old, DIY nickle/hydrogen batteries too. well beyond patent dates.

https://aiaa.org/PubDetail.aspx?id=8090

They maybe could be set up with a Brillouin pulser type DC connection, to produce current too, not just store it.
After all, it is almost identical tech.

Think it needed a pressure vessel tho, and i know the newer Brillouin cells do too.
Morgan Morrigan


Joined: Oct 16, 2011
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
ok, here is how to make the new, large, graphene sheets, cheaply and easily.

http://blog.tomwphillips.co.uk/2012/09/forget-the-scotch-tape-how-to-make-loads-of-graphene/

and the battery basics

http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/07/graphite-and-water-could-be-as-good-as.html
and
http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/07/graphene-nanocomposite-bridge-to-better.html


and the latest version of the nickle iron

http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/ultrafast-nickel-iron-battery-with.html



Austin Shackles


Joined: Jul 26, 2012
Posts: 21
I haven't got time to read the whole thread in detail now, but 2 things come to mind:

1) did anyone say CHP?

2) Gasifying wood, long term, you're going to spend quite a bit of time managing your wood supply. It can be done, you can make for example a willow coppice, we have a small one here to provide goat fodder (!) but it's something to consider, the wood you velar initially needs replacing or long-term the gasifying ain't gonna work.
Bill Bianchi


Joined: Mar 03, 2013
Posts: 226
    
    1
I'm very interested in Nickle Iron batteries for my home. Yes, price is an issue. But, there might be a way to handle the price, if my information is correct.

It is my understanding that Nickle Iron batteries have no memory effect, the way lead acid batteries do. This means Nickle iron batteries can be added and removed from the battery bank with no Ill effects. With lead acid, you're not supposed to remove or add batteries due to the memory effect screwing up the performance of the whole bank.

If this is true, you can purchase a few at a time, add them to hour battery bank, and build up your battery bank through the years. Purchase a few solar panels, then however many batteries it will take to handle that electric production. When you've saved up again, purchase another panel and another battery or two. It would start small, but build into electric self sufficiency eventually. The shipping would cost more this way, but at least you wouldn't be paying interest on a loan. Personally, I'd rather see my money go toward a tangible good or service than into some darn banker's pocket.

I probably shouldn't say this, but you could purchase more than you need, then sell the extra at a profit. With a year long waiting list, they probably increase in value after you receive them. Lots of impatient people out there. Throw one up on eBay and watch what happens. Start the bidding for as much as you paid. If you make enough, place another order & do it again in a year.

Question---would a bank of those big super capacitors in addition to the battery bank help with the initial demand/draw from high-drain appliances? I watched a guy on Instructables who replaced his car battery with 6 of those big super caps. They don't hold as much total energy as a battery, but can dump a crapload of juice in a hurry to start the vehicle. And, they have a long life expectancy. Just wondering if they could reduce the wear and tear on deep cycle batteries if added in addition to the bank.

Please post more information on the made-in-USA Nickle Iron batteries when it becomes available. I'll keep watch on this thread.
Bill Bianchi


Joined: Mar 03, 2013
Posts: 226
    
    1
Just found used Nickle Iron batteries on eBay. 10 of them for $2,000.00.

http://item.mobileweb.ebay.com/viewitem?itemId=151046138933&index=4&nav=SEARCH&nid=43060549640

Two hundred bucks apiece doesn't seem too extreme, though that's not cheap.

This seller plans to sell more of them in lesser quantity. He has a total of 80.
allen lumley
pollinator

Joined: Mar 16, 2012
Posts: 2438
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
    
  40
Tal S. : Take another look at Marcos B.s comment of April 24th, He has given you a lot of good information, however you might look for an older diesel
engine that runs at about - 800 r.p.m. At that speed, as long as the oil gets changed regularly, this engine will last forever with little maintenance needed
Ever ! Big Al !


Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan

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