The Most Ethical Batteries for Renewable Energy Systems

So Mike, here we are in
the workshop and let's talk about renewable energy systems. The main thing is the embodied energy. The energy of manufacturer over
the lifetime of the product. Lithium Batteries, they've
been included everywhere because they're lightweight
but they don't last and you really don't have
the same embodied energy. Then you got the Lead-Acid battery. The common battery in cars. But there is an old technology
that has a long lifetime. And that's something not
many people know about. The nickel iron battery. So what's the story, what's
the best embodied energy? And which one's going to last? Lithium's great when you,
space issues, or weight issues. You know in a caravan, motor home. When you're required a confined space, Lithium is a great product
but it's a extricable product. Lithium's going to be the
plastic bag of the battery world. So it doesn't last that long. No. But lead-acid doesn't last long either and there's a lot of
embodied energy in lead-acid. Yup. A lead-acid battery,
you know they're probably the longest, oldest battery in the world. But the design of a lead-acid
battery decays to give you a piece of it's soul every time it gives you a bit of energy. So it's always going to be consumable. The nickel iron batteries, when they were first put into production, Thomas Edison in the early 1900s, one of them the last threes, if he can outlast threes, he's going to put them into production. He did that, they powered
the first electric cars and they've made a resurgence
into home battery storage. They say that some of those
electric cars had batteries 100 years old and they've
taken them out of the cars and museums and charged them up. Now that's what you've
achieved, that's what we know is possible. We had a customer contact us and say mate I've got a set of
batteries they were last used in 1970, they're in a paddock,
they got a bit of rust on them what do you reckon, you
reckon get 'em going. And I put my hand up
said yup, bring 'em up. Let's have a go. Some of
the batteries actually, we tested the specific
gravity in the electrolyte. And the batteries had actually still had
electrolyte in them. They were like in perfect conditions. The electrolyte actually
saved them, made them preserved and lasted longer. But from a electrical point of view, it all worked electrically. So there's no problems with them. There's just the ones with
the rust holes in bottom we had issues with. So they got a metal case
and the new ones got a high quality plastic case. Yup. And it's not acid. No. It's an alkaline base mix so that's potassium hydroxide KOH. So they're heavy and only 1.2 volts. So you need a lot of
batteries and a lot of weight. But other than that, so stationary
in a house, in a building the embodied energy outmatches
lithium by 100s of times? There's no comparison.
These are 70 years old. We haven't had one die yet in five years. So this is the battery, if you're really trying to be ethical, and you're trying to have
extended embodied energy in a product, this is the battery, we
all should be looking at in houses and buildings? 100%. It's the battery with the lowest embodied energy and that
longevity of the battery of the lifetime, you can't beat it. And there's no rare metals
involved, it's nickel, it's iron, and it's potassium hydroxide? Yup. And the electrolyte
when you're finished with it, you can put it somewhere you
want to grow your pumpkins cause its potash. Right, can grow bananas. There you go, that's the
best battery to go for if you want to be ethical and
you want to long lasting product.

20 thoughts on “The Most Ethical Batteries for Renewable Energy Systems

  1. But why they´re such a good batteries?
    They got electrolytes gestures with hands They have what permaculture plants crave!

    Sorry for the reference, love the video!

  2. Wind, solar, storage and back-up system designer for 100% renewable energy grids and microgrids with 24/7/52 power-on-demand!

  3. Hi. I have a question: Do the plates of the cells degrade? because i read that the cells loss 1% of capacity per year because of the carbon on the electrolite. So after 10 years and 10% of capacity loss the electrolite has to be changed and the battery recover that loss. So my doubt is if after 1 or more changes of electrolite the plates remain the same. Thanks.

  4. I just found someone in the US that is making new Nickel Iron batteries for anybody interested. They aren't cheap but they are available.

  5. I just checked the price of these batteries which is a bit pricey although over time that evens out , but there is a chemist on YouTube that has developed carbon based batteries that are relatively easy to make . He is currently constructing a small scale production unit to start making them. His name is Robert Murray Smith well worth a gander

  6. The challenge one might make to this video's suposition is if nickel-iron batteries are so great, why then has no major manufacturer designed a house charging system with them in mind?

  7. The big down-side to NiFe cells is that they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and it destroys the electrolyte. Here in the US, the chemicals needed to replace the electrolyte cost as much as replacing the cells with new. The basic cell has the lowest embodied energy, but replacing the electrolyte every couple of years is an embodied energy and wallet killer.

  8. The link in Friday five mail for choosing "what's new priority emails" is redirecting to here.. not an email subscription page..

  9. WOW – this is amazing!!! Please can we have a video on how to fix them up, or of great people like this man who can help us fix and use them?

  10. Couple of important points that were missed out. From the previous research I did for my off-grid system, is that these battaries have a relatively high self discharge rate meaning that they will lose the energy stored in them even if you haven't used the energy. Also the electrolyte is quite caustic (KOH) much like caustic soda (NaOH) so would need to be handled with care and properly neutralised with an acid before being discharge onto your plants. Current availability and prices are not reasonable and finally they are quite bulky and heavy.

  11. Any body interested in new carbon based batteries that an be made by oneself should checkout Robert Murray smith channel on YouTube

  12. Thank you for that information. I knew in my heart that there had t be something better than batteries we commonly use.

  13. Question and comment : The electrolyte, potassium hydroxide ( KOH ) is a strong alkali, as strong as sodium hydroxide ( NaOH also known as caustic soda ). Unless the hydroxide ions ( OH^- ) of the electrolyte have been adequately neutralised by a suitable organic type acid, or other chemical process ( through ageing ? ) that has the same effect, it is not be safe to put the old electrolyte in the garden without it being harmful. The potassium ions ( K^+ ) are good for the garden as stated in the video, in the correct doses. You can test the electrolyte pH to ascertain how alkaline it is for older ( unusable ? ) batteries, and hopefully they will be safe to tip when the pH is around 7. They may be close enough to 7 when they have expired, so I recommend testing for that just to be sure, when there may be some doubt. Maybe the authors of the video may just like to clarify that issue for me and also their viewers ?

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