Solair World

Nickel Cadmium Battery: What Is It and How Does It Work?

If you use our links to purchase something, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

The nickel-cadmium battery is becoming more widely used as a source of direct current (DC) voltage, replacing many traditional lead-acid batteries.

It’s popular because it’s small and portable, making it easy to move around.

This type of solar battery is commonly found in items like toys, calculators, and small DC motors.

Like lead-acid batteries, it works on the same basic principle: metals rolled with cadmium and separated by layers within the battery undergo a chemical reaction to produce DC voltage.

The use of different chemical elements in its construction has allowed these solar batteries to become more efficient and compact over time.

What Is Nickel Cadmium Battery

The nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd or NiCad) battery is a rechargeable battery.

It’s made using nickel oxide hydroxide and cadmium as the primary materials.

Although “NiCad” is a trademarked name by SAFT Corporation, it’s commonly used to refer to all Ni-Cd batteries.

These batteries were introduced back in 1899. Typically, a Ni-Cd battery gives about 1.2 volts when it’s being used and this remains relatively steady until it’s nearly empty.

Its peak voltage is about 1.3 volts. They come in various sizes, from small ones that can replace standard batteries to large ones used for backup or industrial purposes.

A key strength of Ni-Cd batteries is their ability to provide almost their full power even when they’re discharged rapidly.

On the flip side, they’re more expensive to produce than lead-acid batteries and they lose charge when not in use.

Once, Ni-Cd batteries were a top choice for tools, cameras, flashlights, toys, and other gadgets.

However, nickel-metal hydride batteries, which offer better capacity and are cheaper nowadays, have taken their place in many applications.

Another challenge for Ni-Cd batteries is the environmental concern because they contain cadmium, a toxic metal.

In the European Union, they’re now mainly used as replacements or in specific new equipment, like medical devices, due to these concerns.

Pros of Nickel Cadmium Battery

Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries have several advantages that have made them a reliable source of power for various applications over the years:

  1. High Discharge Rates: Ni-Cd batteries are capable of sustaining high discharge rates without significant loss of capacity, making them suitable for applications requiring bursts of power.
  2. Durability: They are very durable and can withstand a large number of charge-discharge cycles. Some can endure thousands of cycles before they start to degrade.
  3. Temperature Performance: They perform well in a wide range of temperatures and are known for their reliable performance in cold conditions, where other battery types might fail.
  4. Stable Output Voltage: The voltage output of Ni-Cd batteries remains stable for most of the discharge cycle, which is beneficial for devices that need a consistent voltage to operate properly.
  5. Fast Charging: Ni-Cd batteries can be charged at a high rate, often much faster than other rechargeable batteries, making them convenient for use in situations where quick recharging is desirable.
  6. Availability in Various Sizes: They are available in many sizes and shapes, which makes them versatile for a wide range of applications from small electronic devices to large industrial machinery.
  7. Ruggedness: Ni-Cd batteries are rugged and resistant to physical abuse, overcharging, and short circuits, which can be a significant advantage in demanding applications.

Cons of Nickel Cadmium Battery

Applications of Nickel Cadmium Battery

The nickel-cadmium battery, or Ni-Cd battery, is a rechargeable battery type that uses nickel oxide hydroxide and cadmium as its electrodes.

Ni-Cd batteries, which can be recognized by their chemical symbols Ni for nickel and Cd for cadmium, were first created in 1899.

NiCad is a specific brand name by SAFT Corporation but is often used generically for all nickel-cadmium batteries.

Ni-Cd batteries have a stable output voltage of around 1.2 volts during most of their discharge cycle and can go up to a maximum of 1.3 volts.

They come in many sizes and capacities, ranging from small sealed batteries similar in size to disposable dry cells to larger, ventilated types used for continuous power supply and in vehicles.

One of their main benefits is that they can maintain almost their full capacity even when discharged at high rates, such as within an hour.

While they perform well, especially in cold temperatures, and have a long cycle life, the cost of their materials is higher than for lead-acid batteries, and they tend to lose charge quickly when not in use.

Nickel-cadmium batteries used to be common in various portable devices like power tools, cameras, emergency lights, and hobbies.

However, nickel-metal hydride batteries, which are more capacity-efficient and less expensive, have largely taken over this market.

Also, due to the toxic nature of cadmium and its environmental impact, the use of Ni-Cd batteries has declined significantly, and within the EU, they are now mainly available for replacement purposes or specific new products like medical devices.

For applications like emergency lights, standby power, and power supplies that can’t be interrupted, larger ventilated wet-cell Ni-Cd batteries are still in use.