The following section describes nickel-based batteries, and we begin with nickel-cadmium (NiCd), an older chemistry for which extensive data is available. Much of these characteristics also apply to nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH), as these two systems are close cousins. The toxicity of NiCd is limiting this solid and robust battery to specialty applications.
Lead acid batteries continue to hold a leading position, especially in wheeled mobility and stationary applications. This strong market appeal entices manufacturers to explore ways to make the batteries better. Improvements have been made and some claims are so promising that one questions the trustworthiness. It is no secret that researchers prefer publishing the positive attributes while keeping the negatives under wraps. The following information on lead acid developments was obtained from available printed resources at the time of writing.
Invented by the French physician Gaston Planté in 1859, lead acid was the first rechargeable battery for commercial use. Despite its advanced age, the lead chemistry continues to be in wide use today, and there are good reasons for its popularity; lead acid is dependable and inexpensiveon cost-per-watt base. There are few other batteries that deliver bulk power as cheaply as lead acid, and this makes the battery cost-effective for automobiles, golf cars, forklifts, marine and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).
Rechargeable batteries play an important role in our life and many daily chores would be unthinkable without the ability to recharge an empty battery. Points of interest are specific energy, years of service life, load characteristics, safety, price, self-discharge, environmental issues, maintenance requirements, and disposal.