New rechargeable battery that’s green

Posted by:
Wayne Alldredge
Portfolio Energy Engineer

Did you know that, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. purchases 3 Billion dry cell batteries each year and discards about 2 Billion of those?

As the father of two teenage boys, AA batteries disappear faster than sodas with all the wireless and handheld gadgets and games in the house. As someone who is a bit of a “green freak” and an early adopter of environmentally friendly products, I got into rechargeable batteries many years ago. The problem I had with rechargeable batteries was that they either seemed to degrade with every charge like NiCad batteries, or they didn’t have much ‘juice’ like NiMh.

A new Alkaline battery is 1.5 Volts. A rechargeable NiCad is 1.4 Volts and a NiMh battery is only 1.25 Volts. A big problem with NiCad is that they only hold about 25% of the charge of an Alkaline battery, and also the Cadmium (one of the ingredients) is very toxic. Not a good choice in my book. Then there are NiMh batteries that produce only 1.25 volts. This isn’t a problem for a TV remote control or a cordless mouse or keyboard, but for an Xbox controller, flashlight, or anything that has a motor or light in it, the device seems sluggish or dim – like it always needs a charge. 

Do I save the environment and put up with sluggish products or do I continue the environmentally destructive cycle of burning up disposable alkaline batteries, forcing battery manufacturers to meet my demand?

My latest favorite product is the Nickel-Zinc Rechargeable Batteries or “NiZn” for short. The batteries are not only near infinitely recyclable, they are also the greenest battery chemistry available (they’re non-toxic, non-combustible, and RoHS compliant). They recharge hundreds of times and are 1.6 volts, so when I tested them, my flashlights are bright, my motors run fast, my camera flash is always ready, everything just works better. I haven’t noticed any degradation in the performance of these NiZn batteries and have not had to replace them yet.

I challenge you to try these and find fault in them. Maybe we can stop some of those 2 billion batteries a year from being tossed out.

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