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Getting the Most information from your Batteries

Rechargeable batteries are known to cause more concern, grief and frustration than any other part of a portable device. Given its relatively short life span, the battery is the most expensive and least reliable component of a portable device.

In many ways, a rechargeable battery exhibits human-like characteristics: it needs good nutrition, it prefers moderate room temperature and, in the case of the nickel-based system, requires regular exercise to prevent the phenomenon called ¡®memory¡¯. Each battery seems to develop a unique personality of its own.

The problem with the nickel-based battery is not the cyclic memory but the effects of crystalline formation. There are other factors involved that cause degeneration of a hp battery. For clarity and simplicity, we use the word ¡®memory¡¯ to address capacity loss on nickel-based batteries that are reversible.

The active cadmium material of a NiCd battery is present in finely divided crystals. In a good cell, these crystals remain small, obtaining maximum surface area. When the memory phenomenon occurs, the crystals grow and drastically reduce the surface area. The result is a voltage depression, which leads to a loss of capacity. In advanced stages, the sharp edges of the crystals may grow through the separator, causing high self-discharge or an electrical short.

Lithium and lead-based batteries are not affected by memory, but these chemistries have their own peculiarities. Current inhibiting pacifier layers affect both batteries ¡ª plate oxidation on the lithium and sulfation and corrosion on the lead acid systems. These degenerative effects are non-correctible on the lithium-based system and only partially reversible on the lead acid.

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