DC Supply! Industrial Electrical Ezine

CBC Design (tm) - Issue 15, 2002/2003. ISSN 1475-3464
Email: cbc_design@btconnect.com

"...Maintaining a reliable DC supply."



- Introduction
Rechargeable Solutions for Christmas (Revisited). (Article)
Gas Cells (Article)
- Readers Questions
- Subscriber Ads


Welcome to issue 15 of our industrial ezine "DC Supply". I hope you all had
a nice holiday and a peaceful new year.
Many of you would have noticed that our December issue did not arrive
and you may be wondering why this was so. In truth, we simply did not have time
to produce our December issue and even contemplated stopping the publication
altogether. It takes a great deal of work to produce each issue and we have found it
more and more difficult to produce articles on subjects that we have not covered elsewhere.
We know that many of you find the publication useful and for this reason, you may be
pleased to hear that we have decided to continue publishing the ezine after all. There
will though be a number of changes which should keep the contents interesting.
DC Supply will now be published every two months and will be numbered accordingly.
With 6 issues per year rather than 12, it will be less time consuming to produce and
less difficult trying to find something interesting to say.
We hope you are not disappointed by our decision and will continue to subscribe
to the publication. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You are welcome
to submit articles too if you wish, as long as they are related to dc supplies, batteries
and charging systems in general.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue!  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                           Editor: Alan Fidler.

Alan is the owner and manager of CBC Design, a leading battery management company                            based in the UK. He has worked in the industry for over Eighteen years and has designed                         charging equipment and battery monitors for some of the world largest companies.

ARTICLE: Rechargeable Solutions for Christmas! (Revisited). Author: Alan Fidler.
With a matter of weeks since the holiday period, it is a good time
to start thinking about all those battery powered toys your kids Aunts, Uncles &
Grand Parents purchased and how to keep your running costs down to a minimum.
Batteries are rarely included with the toys themselves and where they are it is
usually because the toy can be tried in the shop which invariably means the batteries
are flat by the time Christmas has come and gone anyway.
Most of our relatives forget about batteries altogether and this can be very disappointing
when the kids opened their presents only to discover that they could not play with their new
toy just because nobody thought about purchasing a suitable set of batteries.
The simplest solution is to purchase a charger that can recharge a variety of cells and
keep a number of Nicad cells that can be inter-changed from one toy to another. This
significantly reduces the number of cells required and over a number of years can save
a huge amount of money.
Most of the larger toys manufactured by companies such as Matel or Fisher Price use
larger batteries such as "C" or "D" types which are widely used in torches and portable
stereo systems so one or two sets of each type will suit a number of appliances.
"AA" or "A" cells are popular sizes in portable CD players and smaller toys so one or
two sets of each of these may be quite useful too.
Take a look round your own home and list all the battery powered appliances that you
have, including toys, torches and any portable equipment such as CD players or radios.
Make a note of the batteries used in each appliance on your list so you can see which
of the cells are the most popular.
Now try and decide which goods on your list are the most widely used and this
will enable you to decide upon an appropriate number of a given cell type. The initial
cost may seem high compared to non-rechargeable cells but, properly maintained, they
will last for years so over time you will save money and more importantly, you will always
have a reliable set of batteries whenever you need them most.  
Try and purchase a charger with inter-changeable battery holders rather than a fixed
type. There is not much point purchasing a unit that can only charge one "D" cell if
you want to charge 4-8 of them at the same time.
Multi function chargers are available from all good charger suppliers either in the
high street or on-line. Some even build to order giving the customer the opportunity
to specify their own personal recharging requirements.
Recently, a friend asked me to look at a fibre optic lamp they purchased for their
daughter over the Christmas period. A very basic unit that runs on two "AA" cells
connected in series, the batteries lasted less than a day and they wanted a better
solution. 2 weeks later, they purchased 4 "AA" cells and a suitable charger. They
now have a fully charged set of batteries available at all times and have already
recouped the money the spent. 

If you use lots of batteries, think about using rechargeables.


Our latest Nicad charger automatically conditions Nicad batteries by discharging the
cells to a specified potential before applying a 3 stage charging cycle to recharge
the cells safely and completely.
Automatic discharge as required before charging cycle commences!
3 stage charging, Constant Current (Boost) Float Charge and Trickle charge!
Led indications for Battery Connected, Discharging, Charging and Battery Charged!
Available with 110/120 or 220/230 Mains input!
RFI Suppression!
Designed for fixed recharge applications!
Ideal for Switch Tripping applications!
Can be used to recharge Lithium Ion Cells!

Go to
http://www.cbcdesign.co.uk/ and click the "New Products!" link for more information.


ARTICLE: Gas Cells.
Ever heard of gas powered cells?
I first heard about them a some years ago. The theory was that a gas could be stored
in a small container and converted into electricity. The up side was that gas took up
less space watt for watt than a battery of the same amp size and could operate
for much longer periods between top-ups. Imagine a mobile phone running for months
on end with a gas battery in a container no bigger than an existing phone battery!
It is easy to assume that gas batteries or fuel cells as they are more correctly called,
are a relatively recent phenomenon but in reality they have been around, on paper at
least, for over 150 years. It is only within the last few years that real progress has been
made for small domestic sized cells though.
Fuel cells work in a similar manner to a battery however they do not run down or require
recharging in the same way an ordinary cell does. As long as fuel is available, the cell
will continue to deliver electrical power. Of course one could argue that replacing the
fuel is a form of recharge, albeit a more efficient and less time consuming one.
A fuel cell consists of two electrodes around an electrolyte. Oxygen passes over one of 
the electrodes whilst hydrogen passes over the second one and the combined action
creates electricity, water and heat. What is actually happening is that hydrogen atoms
passing over the anode split into protons (+) and electrons (-). The proton pass through
the electrolyte to the cathode electrode whilst the electrons flow back to Anode through the
load. The gas is being converted into electrical energy by chemical reaction.
Another big advantage with fuel cells is that they can use virtually any fuel that is
available, including natural gas and gasoline. Using a device called a fuel reformer,
hydrogen can be utilised from any hydrocarbon fuel source and because no combustion
is occurring, harmful emissions are considerably reduced. With many countries in the
world dependant upon the sale of oil for their very survival, one wonders if electric
vehicles could operate from gas powered cells. On the one hand the environment
would be healthier, on the other, the oil industry has a viable future. Who knows?
One thing is certain, fuel cells will begin to make an appearance in mobile phones
and laptop computers within the next few years. Keep an eye out for them.


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Questions from Drew Shawney
1. What is the difference between "Boost" and Equalise?
Boost is a raised charging voltage that causes the battery to draw extra charging
current. This results in mild gassing but a quicker recharge time.
Equalise is also a raised charging voltage set slightly higher than boost and is
designed to equalise the voltage between series connected cells.

2. What does EQ mean?
EQ is an abbreviated term for Equalise.
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