battery-reconditioning
How to recondition nicad batteries

How To Recondition NiCad Batteries

Electric batteries are the building blocks of various industries such as the automobile industry, manufacturing and production industries and many more.

Ever since batteries were invented, it has continued to be one of the most reliable sources of power source for gigantic devices to devices as small as a TV remote.

Even though batteries are the most commonly recurring elements of life and yet we never pay attention to how we use them. 

Everyone must have heard about ‘reconditioned batteries’ but not many of us opt for it – as we have a misconception about it being very complex.

To put it into simpler terms, reconditioning a battery is as simple as recharging your smartphone. In the case of car-batteries and other heavy-duty batteries, the reconditioning process may vary. But it isn’t as complex as we think.

What Is a NiCad Battery?

The history of a voltaic cell or a battery goes back to 1800 – a revolutionary element invented by Alessandro Volta.

The concept of a battery is simple. Every battery consists of two electrodes made of a metal which is dispersed in an electrolyte – the battery retrieves electrical energy and stores it in the form of chemical energy to produce electricity.

It has been centuries ever since the discovery of a voltaic cell and there have been several major advancements that have led to the production of different types of batteries for different purposes.

NiCad batteries or ‘nickel-cadmium’ batteries which are similar in concept and was invented in 1800 by Waldemar Jungner and was developed due to the rising concept of rechargeable batteries.

NiCad batteries have nickel oxide hydroxide and cadmium as their electrodes. They’re widely known for their efficiency and longer life-cycle compared to other batteries.

NiCad batteries are manufactured in different shapes and sizes, which serve different purposes for different requirements. From portable sealed type batteries to large ventilated cells for backup and motive power, NiCad batteries are used everywhere.

Even after having a variety of effective characteristics NiCad batteries in today’s era are being replaced quickly by Lithium-ion batteries, which are already being used in millions of smartphones as their power source. 

NiCad batteries are completely capable of reconditioning, they already possess a long life cycle and after a complete discharge can be brought back to life.

Although, NiCad batteries are victims of the memory effect after reconditioning once – it ‘remembers’ the recharging process and doesn’t provide as much life cycle as a new one does.

Apart from Lithium-ion batteries, almost every kind of battery face the issue of voltage-depression, after the first recharge cycle they often don’t last longer than earlier. 

The Interiors of The NiCad Battery After Being Completely Discharged

It’s very important to know what goes inside the battery after it has completely discharged. Inside a NiCad battery – the positive plates are composed of the porous plaque where a layer of nickel hydroxide gets deposited. 

Talking about the cathode or the negative terminal of the NiCad battery which is made up of cadmium metal gets deposited with cadmium hydroxide

In the process of regeneration, electrical pulses are transmitted to the batteries which are responsible for the breakdown of the crystalline layer deposited on the electrodes.

In NiCad batteries, during the process of reconditioning – the negative plates lose oxygen and transform back to metallic cadmium. Whereas, the anode or the positive plate oxidizes back to its prior state.

The charging is said to be completed when the negative plate of the NiCad battery completely turns into metallic cadmium and the time depends on the type of NiCad battery. 

Although, ‘reconditioning’ any type of battery from the lead-acid battery to NiCad battery – has many benefits. Not only is it cost-efficient but also very eco-friendly.

As many batteries are composed of chemicals from within, disposing of batteries frequently leads to batteries corroding over time and the leakage of chemicals getting mixed with the soil and river-bodies.

How To Recondition NiCad Batteries

Before you start the reconditioning process of NiCad battery you would need a few tools that facilitate appropriate reconditioning.

  • Safety Glasses
  • Voltmeter
  • 12V Trickle Battery Charger with 10/15 amp Setting.
  • 2 Long Nails.
  • Good Quality NiCad Battery Charger.

Step 1: Check Voltage and Impart a Shock To The NiCad Battery

First, use the voltmeter to check the voltage of the battery. Note it down for future references. Set the 12V trickle battery charger and set it to 10 amperes. 

Make sure, you have your safety glasses on as the battery tends to generate some sparks. Fixate the long nails on the clamp and attach the negative terminal with the negative part and tap the positive terminal with the positive clamp.

Make sure you aren’t doing it the other way around or it might lead to an explosion. Tap the positive terminal in the range of 10 – 15 times. 

Now, turn off the car battery charger (12V trickle battery charger) and take another reading of the battery with the voltmeter. The reading will be different as there will be a considerable increase in the voltage reading.

Step 2: The Recharge and Discharge Cycles

A crucial aspect of reconditioning NiCad batteries is that one must know about their discharge and recharge cycles. Make sure before reconditioning the NiCad batteries are completely drained out.

If the batteries are not completely discharged, take your time and bring them to absolute zero. Charging them forcefully even when they have some life left would victimize them to ‘memory effect’ sooner.  

After being completely discharged, use a good quality NiCad battery charger and give it plenty of hours to charge. Discharging it completely makes sure that the batteries provide a similar lifespan as before.

Step 3: Freezing Process of NiCad Batteries

The third step is pretty basic, once the NiCad battery has gone through complete cycles of charge and discharge – the next step is to freeze them.

NiCad batteries after reconditioning need to be kept in air-tight bags surrounded by freezing temperatures for at least 3 – 5 hours.

Once the batteries are out, they have to be given time to come back to the ideal temperature. Minimum 5 – 7 hours in room temperature makes them ready to use, as new.

Conclusion

The reconditioning process is merely a three-step process and can be performed by anyone. Make sure you have all the basic tools required for the process.

Reconditioning is the best way to save money and extract more time for their usage. One must opt for ‘reconditioning’ whenever there is a choice.

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