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Zinc-Nickel Battery





E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


  • Electric vehicles
  • Portable electric-powered devices, such as small hand-held tools, computers, and flashlights
  • Medical instruments, such as surgical tools
  • Commercial communication devices, such as portable and cellular phones
  • Defense technology, such as power for communication devices and submarines


  • Environmentally acceptable replacement for toxic cadmium-nickel oxide cells.
  • New electrolyte extends rechargeable zinc-nickel oxide cell life from approximately 100 deep-discharge cycles to more than 500 deep-discharge cycles.
  • Sealed, maintenance-free cells
  • Higher voltage, lower cost, and no memory effect compared to the cadmium-nickel oxide cell.

ABSTRACT: By using newly discovered electrolytes, Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have eliminated the problems associated with current zinc-nickel oxide batteries, and extended their lifecycle.

The short lifetime of the conventional zinc-nickel oxide battery has been the primary factor limiting its commercial use, even though its performance attributes make it attractive for portable power applications. The problem is caused by zinc active material migrating throughout the cell (known as shape change) eventually forming unwanted filamentary deposits (dendrites) during recharge, resulting in rapid capacity loss and catastrophic failure. Berkeley National Laboratory's new electrolyte compositions virtually eliminate shape change and zinc dendrites.

More than 500 deep-discharge (100% depth of discharge) cycles have been reached using Berkeley National Laboratory's electrolyte. Sealed cells exhibit no dendrites and only a modest (approx. 30%) capacity loss. The specific power achievable with the modified electrolytes is more than adequate (>200 W/kg) for demanding applications such as electric vehicles, and is comparable to high values obtained with currently manufactured zinc-nickel oxide batteries.

STATUS: U.S. Patents #5,453,336. Available for licensing


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Technology Transfer Department
E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
MS 90-1070
Berkeley, CA 94720
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