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Ni-Cd block battery

Technical manual
August 2018

1. Introduction 3 7. Battery sizing principles

in stationary standby applications 17
2. Benefits of the block battery 4
7.1 The voltage window 17
2.1 Complete reliability 4
7.2 Discharge profile 17
2.2 Long cycle life 4
7.3 Temperature 17
2.3 Exceptionally long lifetime 4
7.4 State of charge or recharge time 18
2.4 Low maintenance 4
7.5 Ageing 18
2.5 Wide operating temperature range 4
7.6 Floating effect 18
2.6 Fast recharge 4
2.7 Resistance to mechanical abuse 4 8. Battery charging 19
2.8 High resistance to electrical abuse 4 8.1 Charging generalities 19
2.9 Simple installation 4 8.2 Constant voltage charging methods 19
2.10 Extended storage 4 8.3 Charge acceptance 20
2.11 Well-proven pocket plate construction 4 8.4 Charge efficiency 22
2.12 Environmentally safe 4 8.5 Temperature effects 22
2.13 Low life-cycle cost 4 8.6 Commissioning 22

3. Electrochemistry of nickel-cadmium batteries 5 9. Special operating factors 23

9.1 Electrical abuse 23
4. Construction features of the block battery 6
9.2 Mechanical abuse 23
4.1 Plate assembly 7
4.2 Separation 8 10. Installation and operating instructions 24
4.3 Electrolyte 8 10.1 Receiving the shipment 24
4.4 Terminal pillars 9 10.2 Storage 24
4.5 Venting system 9 10.3 Electrolyte / cell oil 25
4.6 Cell container 9 10.4 Installation 25
10.5 Commissioning 25
5. Battery types and applications 10
10.6 Charging in service 26
5.1 Type L 11
10.7 Periodic maintenance 27
5.2 Type M 11
10.8 Changing electrolyte 27
5.3 Type H 11
5.4 Choice of type 11 11. Maintenance of block batteries in service 28
11.1 Cleanliness/mechanical 28
6. Operating features 12
11.2 Topping-up 28
6.1 Capacity 12
11.3 Capacity check 29
6.2 Cell voltage 12
11.4 Recommended maintenance procedure 29
6.3 Internal resistance 12
6.4 Effect of temperature on performance 13 12. Disposal and recycling 30
6.5 Short-circuit values 14
6.6 Open circuit loss 14
6.7 Cycling 14
6.8 Effect of temperature on lifetime 15
6.9 Water consumption and gas evolution 16
1. Introduction

The nickel-cadmium battery is This manual details the design

the most reliable battery system and operating characteristics of
available in the market today. Its the Saft Nife pocket plate block
unique features enable it to be battery to enable a successful
used in applications and battery system to be achieved.
environments untenable for A battery which, while retaining
other widely available battery all the advantages arising from
systems. nearly 100 years of
development of the pocket plate
It is not surprising, therefore, technology, can be so worry
that the nickel-cadmium battery free that its only major
has become an obvious first maintenance requirement is
choice for users looking for a topping-up with water.
reliable, long life, low
maintenance system.
2. Benefits of the
 block battery

2.1 Complete reliability temperatures, ranging from as 2.10 Extended storage

The block battery does not suffer low as –50°C (–58°F) to up to When stored in the empty and
from the sudden death failure +70°C (+158°F) (see section discharged state under the
associated with the lead acid battery 4.3 Electrolyte). recommended conditions, the block
(see section 4.1 Plate assembly). battery can be stored for
2.6 Fast recharge many years (see section 10.2
2.2 Long cycle life The block battery can be recharged Installation and operating
The block battery has a long cycle life at currents which allow very fast instructions).
even when the recharge times to
charge/discharge cycle involves be achieved (see section 8.3 2.11 Well-proven pocket
100% depth of discharge (see Charge acceptance). plate construction
section 6.7 Cycling). Saft has nearly 100 years of
2.7 Resistance to manufacturing and application
2.3 Exceptionally long mechanical abuse experience with respect to the nickel-
lifetime The block battery is designed to have cadmium pocket plate product, and
A lifetime in excess of twenty years is the mechanical strength required this expertise has been built into the
achieved by the Saft Nife to withstand all the harsh treatment twenty-plus years’ design life of the
block battery in many associated with block battery product (see section 4
applications, and at elevated transportation over difficult Construction features of the
temperatures it has a lifetime terrain (see section 9.2 block battery).
unthinkable for other widely Mechanical abuse).
available battery technologies 2.12 Environmentally safe
(see section 6.8 Effect of 2.8 High resistance to Saft operates a dedicated recycling
temperature on lifetime). electrical abuse center to recover the
The block battery will survive abuse nickel, cadmium, steel and
2.4 Low maintenance which would destroy a lead acid plastic used in the battery
With its generous electrolyte reserve, battery, for example overcharging, (see section 12 Disposal and
the block battery reduces the need deep discharging, and high ripple recycling).
for topping-up currents (see section 9.1 Electrical
with water, and can be left in abuse). 2.13 Low life-cycle cost
remote sites for long periods When all the factors of lifetime,
without any maintenance (see 2.9 Simple installation low maintenance requirements,
section 6.9 Water consumption The block battery can be used with a simple installation and storage and
and gas evolution). wide range of stationary and mobile resistance to abuse are taken into
applications as it account, the Saft Nife block battery
2.5 Wide operating produces no corrosive vapors, becomes the most cost effective
temperature range uses corrosion-free polypropylene solution for many professional
The block battery has an electrolyte containers and has a simple bolted applications.
which allows it to have a normal connector assembly system (see
operating temperature of from –20°C section 10 Installation and operating
to +50°C (–4°F to instructions).
+122°F), and accept extreme
3. Electrochemistry of
nickel-cadmium batteries

The nickel-cadmium battery uses The charge/discharge reaction

nickel hydroxide as the active of a nickel-cadmium battery is as
material for the positive plate, follows:
and cadmium hydroxide for the
negative plate. discharge
2 NiOOH + 2H2O + Cd 2 Ni(OH)2 + Cd(OH)2
The electrolyte is an aqueous charge
solution of potassium hydroxide
containing small quantities of
lithium hydroxide to improve During discharge the trivalent Thus, through its
cycle life and high temperature nickel hydroxide is reduced to electrochemistry, the nickel-
operation. divalent nickel hydroxide, and the cadmium battery has a more
cadmium at the negative plate stable behavior than the lead
The electrolyte is only used for forms cadmium hydroxide. acid battery, giving it a longer
ion transfer; it is not chemically life, superior characteristics and
changed or degraded during the On charge, the reverse reaction a greater resistance against
charge/discharge cycle. In the takes place until the cell potential abusive conditions.
case of the lead acid battery, the rises to a level where hydrogen
positive and negative active is evolved at the negative plate Nickel-cadmium cells have a
materials chemically react with and oxygen at the positive plate nominal voltage of 1.2 V.
the sulphuric acid electrolyte which results in water loss.
resulting in an ageing process.
Unlike the lead acid battery,
The support structure of both there is little change in the
plates is steel. This is unaffected electrolyte density during charge
by the electrolyte, and retains its and discharge. This allows large
strength throughout the life of reserves of electrolyte to be
the cell. In the case of the lead used without inconvenience to
acid battery, the basic structure the electrochemistry of the
of both plates is lead and lead couple.
oxide which play a part in the
electrochemistry of the process
and are naturally corroded
during the life of the battery.
4. Construction features
of the block battery

Protective cover
• to prevent external
short-circuits Flame-arresting vents
• In line with IEC 62485-2 / Material: polypropylene.
EN 50272-2 standards with
IP20 protection

Cell container
Material: translucent
Plate group bus
Connects the plate
tabs with the terminal
Plate tab post. Plate tabs and
Spot-welded both to the plate terminal post are
side-frames and to the upper projection-welded to
edge of the pocket plate. the plate group bus.

Separating grids Plate frame

Separate the plates and Seals the plate pockets
insulate the plate frames from and serves as a current
each other. The grids allow collector.
free circulation of electrolyte
between the plates.

Horizontal pockets
of double-perforated
steel strips.

The cells are welded

together to form rugged
blocks of 1-6 cells Saft cells fulfill all
depending on the cell size requirements specified
and type. by IEC 60623.
4.1 Plate assembly These pockets are mechanically Nickel-cadmium batteries have
The nickel-cadmium cell consists of linked together, cut to the size an exceptionally good lifetime
two groups of plates, the positive corresponding to the plate width and cycle life because their
containing nickel hydroxide and and compressed to the final plates are not gradually
the negative containing cadmium plate dimension. This process weakened by corrosion, as the
hydroxide. leads to a plate which is not only structural component of the
mechanically very strong but also plate is steel. The active material
The active materials of the Saft retains its active material within of the plate is not structural,
Nife pocket plate block battery a steel containment which only electrical. The alkaline
are retained in pockets formed promotes conductivity and electrolyte does not react with
from steel strips double- minimizes electrode swelling. steel, which means that the
perforated by a patented These plates are then welded to supporting structure of the block
process. a current carrying bus bar battery stays intact and
assembly which further ensures unchanged for the life of the
the mechanical and electrical battery. There is no corrosion
stability of the product. and no risk of “sudden death.”

In contrast, the lead plate of a

lead acid battery is both the
structure and the active material
and this leads to shedding of the
positive plate material and
eventual structural collapse.
4.2 Separation during charging, then it must be mainly as a carrier of oxygen or
Separation between plates is stopped to reduce the temperature. hydroxyl ions from one electrode
provided by injection molded The charging can be resumed when to the other; hence the
plastic separator grids, electrolyte temperature drops below composition or the concentration
integrating both plate edge + 40°C (+ 104°F). of the electrolyte does not
insulation and plate separation. change noticeably. In the
charge/discharge reaction of
By providing a large spacing The concentration of the the nickel-cadmium battery, the
between the positive and standard electrolyte is such as potassium hydroxide is not
negative plates and a generous to allow the cell to be operated mentioned in the reaction
quantity of electrolyte between to temperature extremes as low formula. A small amount of
plates, good electrolyte as –20°C (–4°F) and as high as water is produced during the
circulation and gas dissipation +50°C (+122°F). This allows the charging procedure (and
are provided, and there is no very high temperature fluctuation consumed during the discharge).
stratification of the electrolyte as found in certain regions to be The amount is not enough to
found with lead acid batteries. accommodated. make it possible to detect if the
battery is charged or discharged
For very low temperatures a by measuring the density of the
4.3 Electrolyte special high density electrolyte electrolyte.
The electrolyte used in the block can be used.
battery, which is a solution of Once the battery has been filled
potassium hydroxide and lithium The electrode material is less with the correct electrolyte either
hydroxide, is optimized to give reactive with the alkaline at the battery factory or during
the best combination of electrolyte (nickel-cadmium the battery commissioning there
performance, life, energy efficiency secondary batteries) than with is no need to check the
and a wide temperature range. acid electrolytes (lead acid electrolyte density periodically.
secondary batteries). The density of the electrolyte in
The electrolyte temperature is to Furthermore, during charging the battery either increases or
be monitored during charge. If the and discharging in alkaline decreases as the electrolyte
temperature exceeds + 45°C (+113°F) batteries the electrolyte works level drops because of water
electrolysis or evaporation or 4.4 Terminal pillars 4.5 Venting system
rises at topping-up. Short terminal pillars are welded The block battery is fitted with a
Interpretation of density to the plate bus bars using a special flame-arresting flip-top
measurements is difficult and well-established and proven vent to give an effective and safe
could be misleading. method. These posts are venting system.
manufactured from steel bar,
internally threaded for bolting on
In most applications the connectors, and nickel-plated. 4.6 Cell container
electrolyte will retain its The battery is built up using well-
effectiveness for the life of the The sealing between the cover proven block battery
battery and will never need and the terminal is provided construction. The tough
replacing. However, under by a compressed visco-elastic polypropylene containers are
certain conditions, such as sealing surface held in place by welded together by heat sealing.
extended use in high compression lock washers. This
temperature situations, the assembly is designed to provide The block battery uses 4 plate
electrolyte can become satisfactory sealing throughout sizes or plate modules. These
carbonated. If this occurs the the life of the product. are designated module type 1,
battery performance can be 2, 3 and 4. They can be
improved by replacing the recognized from the block
electrolyte. dimensions as follows:

The standard electrolyte used

for the first fill in cells is E22
and for replacement in service
is E13.
Block width (mm) Block height (mm) Plate module
123 194 1
123 264 2
195 349 3
195 405 4
Table 1 - Correlation between block dimensions and
plate module number
5. Battery types and applications

In order to provide an optimum solution for the wide range of battery applications which exist, the block battery
is constructed in three performance ranges.

Saft Nife
battery types
mini 3h 30 min 1s
maxi 100 h 3h 30 min
Power Power Starting,

Use of battery backup backup Power
Bulk energy backup
Applications Engine starting - Switchgear - UPS - Process control -
Data and information systems - Emergency lighting -
Security and fire alarm systems -
Switching and transmission systems - Signaling
electricity, gas,
water production
• • •
& distribution
Oil and gas
offshore & onshore,
• • •
chemical, mining,
• • •
steel metal works

public, private
• • •
• • •
X-ray equipment
satellite, cable,
• •
repeater stations,
cellular base stations
substations & signaling
• • •
Airports •
• •
all applications
• • •
5.1 Type L 5.3 Type H 5.4 Choice of type
The L type is designed for The H type is designed for In performance terms the
applications where the battery is applications where there is a ranges cover the full time
required to provide a reliable demand for a relatively high spectrum from rapid high
source of energy over relatively current over short periods, current discharges of a second
long discharge periods. Normally, usually less than 30 minutes in to very long low current
the current is relatively low in duration. The applications can discharges of many hours.
comparison with the total stored have frequent or infrequent Table 2 shows in general terms
energy, and the discharges are discharges. The range is typically the split between the ranges for
generally infrequent. Typical uses used in starting and power the different discharge types.
are power backup and bulk backup applications. The choice is related to the
energy storage. discharge time and the end of
discharge voltage. There are, of
course, many applications
5.2 Type M where there are multiple
The M type is designed for discharges, and so the optimum
applications where the batteries range type should be calculated.
are usually required to sustain This is explained in the section 7
electrical loads for between “Battery sizing”.
30 minutes to 3 hours or for
“mixed” loads which involve a
mixture of high and low discharge
rates. The applications can have
frequent or infrequent discharges.
The range is typically used in
power backup applications.

Table 2 - General selection of cell range

6. Operating features

6.1 Capacity 6.2 Cell voltage To obtain the internal resistance

The block battery capacity is The cell voltage of nickel- of a cell it is necessary to divide
rated in ampere-hours (Ah) and cadmium cells results from the the value from the table by the
is the quantity of electricity at electrochemical potentials of the rated capacity.
+20°C (+68°F) which it can nickel and the cadmium active
supply for a 5 hour discharge to materials in the presence of the For example, the internal
1.0 V after being fully charged potassium hydroxide electrolyte. resistance of a SBH 118
for 7.5 hours at 0.2 C5 A. This The nominal voltage for this (module type 3) is given by:
figure conforms to the electrochemical couple is 1.2 V. 39
= 0.33 mΩ
IEC 60623 standard. 118
The figures of Table 3 are for
According to the IEC 60623, 0.2 C5 A is 6.3 Internal resistance fully charged cells.
also expressed as 0.2 I t A. The internal resistance of a cell
The reference test current (I t ) varies with the temperature and For lower states of charge the
is expressed as: the state of charge and is, values increase. For cells 50%
Cn Ah therefore, difficult to define and discharged the internal
1h measure accurately. resistance is about 20% higher,
I tA =
and when 90% discharged, it is
where: The most practical value for about 80% higher. The internal
normal applications is the resistance of a fully discharged
Cn is the rated capacity discharge voltage response to a cell has very little meaning.
declared by the change in discharge current.
manufacturer in ampere- Reducing the temperature also
hours (Ah), The internal resistance of a block increases the internal
and battery cell depends on the resistance, and at 0°C (+32°F),
n is the time base in hours (h) performance type and at normal the internal resistance is about
for which the rated capacity temperature has the values given 40% higher.
is declared. in Table 3 in mΩ per 1/C5.

Cell type Module plate size (see table 1)

1 2 3 4
SBLE 105 125 160 165
SBM 55 62 78 86
SBH N/A 30 39 43

Table 3 - Internal resistance in mΩ per 1/C5

6.4 Effect of temperature
on performance
Variations in ambient
temperature affect the
performance of the cell and this
needs to be taken into account
when sizing the battery.

Low temperature operation has

the effect of reducing the
performance, but the higher
temperature characteristics are
similar to those at normal
Figure 1(a) - Temperature de-rating factors for L type cell
temperatures. The effect of low
temperature is more marked at
higher rates of discharge.

The factors which are required in

sizing a battery to compensate
for temperature variations are
given in a graphical form in
Figure 1(a), L type, Figure 1(b),
M type and Figure 1(c), H type
for operating temperatures from
–20°C to +50°C (–4°F to +122°F).

Figure 1(b) - Temperature de-rating factors for M type cell

Figure 1(c) - Temperature de-rating factors for H type cell

6.5 Short-circuit values 6.7 Cycling unable to achieve the minimum
The typical short-circuit value in The block battery is designed to design limit. A shallow cycle will give
amperes for a block battery cell is withstand the wide range of cycling many thousands of operations,
approximately 9 times the ampere- behavior encountered in stationary whereas a deep cycle will give only
applications. This can vary from low hundreds of operations.
hour capacity for an L type block,
depth of discharges to discharges of
16 times the ampere-hour capacity
up to 100% and the number of Figure 3 gives typical values for the
for an M type block and 28 times the
cycles that the product will be able to effect of depth of discharge on the
ampere-hour capacity for an
provide will depend on the depth of available cycle life, and it is clear that
H type block. when sizing the battery for a cycling
application, the number and depth of
The block battery with conventional The less deeply a battery is cycled, cycles have an important
bolted assembly connections will the greater the number of cycles it consequence on the predicted life of
withstand a short-circuit current of is capable of performing before it is the system.
this magnitude for many minutes
without damage.

6.6 Open circuit loss

The state of charge of the block cell
on open circuit slowly decreases with
time due to self-discharge. In
practice this decrease is relatively
rapid during the first two weeks, but
then stabilizes to about 2% per
month at +20°C (+68°F).

The self-discharge characteristics of a

Figure 2 - Capacity loss on open circuit stand
nickel-cadmium cell are affected by the
temperature. At low temperatures, the
charge retention is better than at
normal temperature, and so the open
circuit loss is reduced. However,the self-
discharge is significantly increased at
higher temperatures.

The typical open circuit loss for the

block battery for a range of
temperatures which may be
experienced in a stationary application
is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 3 - Typical cycle life versus depth of discharge

6.8 Effect of temperature
on lifetime
The block battery is designed as
a twenty year life product, but as
with every battery system,
increasing temperature reduces
the expected life. However, the
reduction in lifetime with
increasing temperature is very
much lower for the nickel-
cadmium battery than the lead
acid battery.

The reduction in lifetime for the Figure 4 - Effect of temperature on lifetime

nickel-cadmium battery, and for
comparison, a high quality lead In high temperature situations,
acid battery is shown graphically therefore, special consideration
in Figure 4. The values for the must be given to dimensioning
lead acid battery are as supplied the nickel-cadmium battery.
by the industry and found in Under the same conditions, the
Eurobat and IEEE documentation. lead acid battery is not a
practical proposition, due to its
In general terms, for every 9ºC very short lifetime. The VRLA
(16.2ºF) increase in temperature battery, for example, which has
over the normal operating a lifetime of about 7 years under
temperature of +25°C (+77°F), good conditions, has this
the reduction in service life for a reduced to less than 1 year,
nickel-cadmium battery will be if used at +50°C (+122°F).
20%, and for a lead acid battery
will be 50%.
6.9 Water consumption
and gas evolution
During charging, more ampere-
hours are supplied to the battery
than the capacity available for
discharge. These additional
ampere-hours must be provided
to return the battery to the fully
charged state and, since they
are not all retained by the cell
and do not all contribute directly
to the chemical changes to the
active materials in the plates,
Figure 5 - Water consumption values for different voltages and cell types
they must be dissipated in some
way. This surplus charge, or
overcharge, breaks down the The overcharge current is a The gas evolution is a function of
water content of the electrolyte function of both voltage and the amount of water electrolyzed
into oxygen and hydrogen, and temperature, so both have an into hydrogen and oxygen and
pure distilled or deionized water influence on the consumption of are predominantly given off at
has to be added to replace water. Figure 5 gives typical the end of the charging period.
this loss. water consumption values over a The battery gives off no gas
range of voltages for different during a normal discharge.
Water loss is associated with the cell types.
current used for overcharging. The electrolysis of 1 cm3 of
A battery which is constantly Example: An SBM 161 is floating water produces 1865 cm3 of
cycled, i.e. is charged and at 1.43 V/cell. The electrolyte gas mixture and this gas mixture
discharged on a regular basis, reserve for this cell is 500 cm3. is in the proportion of 2/3 hydrogen
will consume more water than a From Figure 5, an M type cell at and 1/3 oxygen. Thus the
battery on standby operation. 1.43 V/cell will use 0.27 cm3 / electrolysis of 1 cm3 of water
month for one Ah of capacity. produces 1243 cm3 of hydrogen.
In theory, the quantity of water Thus an SBM 161 will use 0.27
used can be found by the Faradic x 161 = 43.5 cm3 per month
equation that each ampere-hour and the electrolyte reserve will
of overcharge breaks down be used in
0.366 cm3 of water. However, in
practice, the water usage will be 500 = 11.5 months.
less than this, as the overcharge 43.5
current is also needed to
counteract self-discharge of the
7. Battery sizing principles
in stationary standby applications

There are a number of methods 7.1 The voltage window 7.3 Temperature
which are used to size nickel- This is the maximum voltage and The maximum and minimum
cadmium batteries for standby the minimum voltage at the temperatures and the normal
floating applications. The method battery terminals acceptable for ambient temperature will have
employed by Saft is the the system. In battery terms, the an influence on the sizing of the
IEEE 1115 recommendation maximum voltage gives the battery. The performance of a
which is accepted internationally. voltage which is available to charge battery decreases with
This method takes into account the battery, and the minimum decreasing temperature and
multiple discharges, temperature voltage gives the lowest voltage sizing at a low temperature
de-rating, performance after acceptable to the system to increases the battery size.
floating and the voltage window which the battery can be Temperature de-rating curves
available for the battery. discharged. In discharging the are produced for all cell types to
nickel-cadmium battery, the cell allow the performance to be
A significant advantage of the voltage should be taken as low recalculated.
nickel-cadmium battery as possible in order to find the
compared to a lead acid battery, most economic and efficient
is that it can be fully discharged battery.
without any inconvenience in
terms of life or recharge. Thus,
to obtain the smallest and least 7.2 Discharge profile
costly battery, it is an advantage This is the electrical
to discharge the battery to the performance required from the
lowest practical value in order to battery for the application. It may
obtain the maximum energy from be expressed in terms of
the battery. amperes for a certain duration,
or it may be expressed in terms
The principle sizing parameters of power, in watts or kW, for a
which are of interest are: certain duration. The requirement
may be simply one discharge or
many discharges of a complex
7.4 State of charge 7.6 Floating effect
or recharge time When a nickel-cadmium cell is
Some applications may require maintained at a fixed floating
that the battery shall give a full voltage over a period of time,
duty cycle after a certain time there is a decrease in the
after the previous discharge. The voltage level of the discharge
factors used for this will depend curve. This effect begins after
on the depth of discharge, the one week and reaches its
rate of discharge, and the maximum in about 3 months. It
charge voltage and current. can only be eliminated by a full
A requirement for a high state of discharge/charge cycle, and it
charge does not justify a high cannot be eliminated by a boost
charge voltage if the result is a charge. It is therefore necessary
high end of discharge voltage. to take this into account in any
calculations concerning batteries
in float applications.
7.5 Ageing
Some customers require a value As the effect of reducing the
to be added to allow for the voltage level is to reduce the
ageing of the battery over its autonomy of the battery, the
lifetime. This may be a value effect can be considered as
required by the customer, for reducing the performance of the
example 10%, or it may be a battery and so performance
requirement from the customer down-rating factors are used.
that a value is used which will
ensure the service of the battery
during its lifetime. The value to
be used will depend on the
discharge rate of the battery and
the conditions under which the
discharge is carried out.
8. Battery charging

8.1 Charging generalities system and accepts a To minimize the water usage, it is
The block battery can be smaller voltage window than the important to use a low charge
charged by all normal methods. two-rate charger. voltage per cell, and so the
Generally, batteries in parallel minimum voltage for the single
operation with charger and load The two-rate charger has an level and the two level charge
are charged with constant initial high voltage stage to voltage is the normally
voltage. In operations where charge the battery followed by a recommended value. This also
the battery is charged lower voltage maintenance helps within a voltage window to
separately from the load, charge. This allows the battery obtain the lowest, and most
charging with constant current to be charged quickly, and yet, effective, end of discharge
or declining current is possible. have a low water consumption voltage per cell (see section 7
High-rate charging or due to the low maintenance Battery sizing).
overcharging will not damage charge or float voltage level.
the battery, but excessive The values given as maximum
charging will increase water The values used for the block are those which are acceptable
consumption to some degree. battery ranges for single and to the battery, but would not
two-rate charge systems are as normally be used in practice,
shown in Table 4 below. particularly for the single level,
8.2 Constant voltage because of high water usage.
charging methods
Batteries in stationary
applications are normally
charged by a constant voltage Cell Single level (V/cell) Two level (V/cell)
float system and this can be of type
min max min max floating
two types: the two-rate type,
L 1.43 1.50 1.47 1.70 1.42 ± 0.01
where there is an initial constant
voltage charge followed by a M 1.43 1.50 1.45 1.70 1.40 ± 0.01
lower voltage floating voltage; or H 1.43 1.50 1.45 1.70 1.40 ± 0.01
a single-rate floating voltage.
Table 4 - Charge and float voltages for the block battery ranges

The single voltage charger is

necessarily a compromise
between a voltage high enough
to give an acceptable charge
time and low enough to give a
low water usage. However it
does give a simpler charging
8.3 Charge acceptance Figure 6(a) - Typical recharge times from a fully discharged state for
A discharged cell will take a the SBLE range
certain time to achieve a full
1.65 Vpc 1.60 Vpc 1.55 Vpc 1.50 Vpc 1.45 Vpc 1.42 Vpc
state of charge. Figures 6(a), (b) 100%

and (c) give the capacity available

for typical charging voltages
recommended for the block
battery range during the first 70%
Available capacity (% C5 Ah)

30 hours of charge from a fully 60%

discharged state.



SBLE Range - Available capacity after constant
voltage charge at +20 °C (+68 °F)
10% Current limit 0.2 C5A

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
Charge time (hours)

Figure 6(b) - Typical recharge times from a fully discharged state

for the SBM range

1.60 Vpc 1.55 Vpc 1.50 Vpc 1.45 Vpc 1.42 Vpc 1.40 Vpc



Available capacity (% C5 Ah)





SBM Range - Available capacity after constant
voltage charge at +20 °C (+68 °F)
10% Current limit 0.2 C5A

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
Charge time (hours)
These graphs give the recharge Figure 6(c) - Typical recharge times from a fully discharged state
for the SBH range
time for a current limit of
0.2 C5 A. Clearly, if a lower 1.55 Vpc 1.50 Vpc 1.45 Vpc 1.42 Vpc 1.40 Vpc
value for the current is used,
e.g. 0.1 C5 A, then the battery 90%

will take longer to charge. If a

higher current is used then it
will charge more rapidly. This is 70%
Available capacity (% C5 Ah)

not in general a pro rata 60%

relationship due to the limited
charging voltage.

If the application has a particular 30%

recharge time requirement then this
must be taken into account when SBH Range - Available capacity after constant
voltage charge at +20 °C (+68 °F)
calculating the battery. 10% Current limit 0.2 C5A

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
Charge time (hours)
8.4 Charge efficiency 8.5 Temperature effects 8.6 Commissioning*
The charge efficiency of the As the temperature increases, It is recommended that a good
battery is dependent on the the electrochemical behavior first charge should be given to
state of charge of the battery becomes more active, and so, the battery. This is a once only
and the temperature. For much for the same floating voltage, the operation, and is essential to
of its charge profile, it is current increases. As the prepare the battery for its long
recharged at a high level of temperature is reduced then the service life. It is also important
efficiency. reverse occurs. Increasing the for discharged and empty cells
current increases the water which have been filled, as they
In general, at states of charge loss, and reducing the current will be in a totally discharged
less than 80% the charge creates the risk that the cell will state.
efficiency remains high, but as not be sufficiently charged.
the battery approaches a fully A constant current first charge
charged condition, the charging For standby application, it is is preferable and this should be
efficiency falls off. normally not required to such as to supply 200% of the
compensate the charging voltage rated capacity of the cell. Thus,
with the temperature. However if a 250 Ah cell will require
water consumption is of main 500 ampere-hours’ input,
concern, temperature e.g. 50 A for 10 hours.
compensation should be used if
the battery is operating at high * Please refer to the installation
temperature such as +35°C and operating instructions (see
(+95°F). At low temperature section 10).
(< 0°C/+32°F), there is a risk of
poor charging and it is
recommended either to adjust
the charging voltage or to
compensate the charging voltage
with the temperature.

Value of the temperature

compensation: –3 mV/°C
(–1.7 mV/°F), starting from an
ambient temperature of +20°C
to +25°C (+68°F to +77°F).
9. Special operating factors

9.1 Electrical abuse Over-discharge 9.2 Mechanical abuse

Ripple effects If more than the designed Shock loads
The nickel-cadmium battery is capacity is taken out of a battery The block battery concept has
tolerant to high ripple and will then it becomes deep-discharged been tested to IEC 68-2-29
accept ripple currents of up to and reversed. This is considered (bump tests at 5 g, 10 g and
0.2 C5 A I eff. In fact, the only to be an abuse situation for 25 g) and IEC 77 (shock test
effect of a high ripple current is a battery and should be avoided. 3 g), where g = acceleration.
that of increased water usage.
Thus, in general, any In the case of lead acid batteries Vibration resistance
commercially available charger this will lead to failure of the The block battery concept
or generator can be used for battery and is unacceptable. has been tested to IEC 77 for
commissioning or maintenance 2 hours at 1 g, where
charging of the block battery. The block battery will not be g = acceleration.
This contrasts with the valve- damaged by over-discharge but
regulated lead acid battery must be recharged to External corrosion
(VRLA) where relatively small compensate for the over- The block battery is
ripple currents can cause discharge. manufactured in durable
battery overheating, and will polypropylene. All external metal
reduce life and performance. Overcharge components are nickel-plated or
In the case of the block battery, stainless steel, protected by an
with its generous electrolyte anti-corrosion oil, and then
reserve, a small degree of protected by a rigid plastic cover.
overcharge over a short period
will not significantly alter the
maintenance period. In the case
of excessive overcharge, water
replenishment is required, but
there will be no significant effect
on the life of the battery.
10. Installation and
operating instructions

Important 10.1 Receiving the shipment ■ Cells delivered empty and

recommendations Do not overturn the package.
Important: The commissioning
Inspect cells for any damage and
■ Never allow an exposed flame charge must start within 24
report any to the freight company
or spark near the batteries, hours but not before 4 hours after
while charging. the electrolyte has been filled.
■ If the cells are shipped filled and After commissioning, the battery
■ Never smoke while charged, the cells are ready for shall be charged permanently
performing any operation on assembly. according to section 4.
the battery.
If the electrolyte is supplied dry,
■ For protection, wear rubber 10.2. Installation prepare it according to its separate
gloves, long sleeves and instructions sheet.
10.2.1 Location
appropriate splash goggles or The electrolyte to be used is E22.
Install the battery in a dry and clean
face shield. Fill the cells about 20 mm above
room. Avoid direct sunlight and
■ The electrolyte is harmful heat. the minimum level mark (lower) with
to skin and eyes. In the event electrolyte. Start the commissioning
The battery will give the best charge within 24 hours but not
of contact with skin or eyes,
performance when the ambient before 4 hours.
wash immediately with plenty of
temperature is between +10°C to
water. If eyes are affected,flush
+30°C (+50°F to +86°F). 10.2.4 Assembly
with water, and obtain
immediate medical attention. 10.2.2. Ventilation Verify that cells are correctly
interconnected with the appropriate
■ Remove all rings, watches During charging, the battery is
and other items with metal emitting gases (oxygen and hydrogen
The connecting lugs to the battery
parts before working on the mixture).
terminals should be nickel plated.
battery. Ventilation of the battery room, in Recommended torques values for
■ Use insulated tools. accordance with the IEC 62485-2 terminal bolts are:
standard, must be provided. • M 6 = 11 ± 1.1 Nm (97.4 ± 9.8
■ Avoid static electricity
Note that special regulations for • M 8 = 20 ± 2 Nm (177.0 ± 17.7
and take measurements for
ventilation may be valid in your area • M10 = 30 ± 3 Nm (265.0 ± 26.6
protection against electric
depending on the application. The connectors and terminals should
be corrosion-protected by coating
■ Discharge any possible static 10.2.3 Electrolyte with a thin layer of anti-corrosion oil or
electricity from clothing and/ Cells delivered filled and charged: NO-OX-ID”A”.
or tools by touching an earth- Check for spilling.
10.3 Commissioning
connected part “ground” before If spilling is noticed, the spilled cells
working on the battery. must be refilled with E22 electrolyte, Verify that the vents are closed
only after assembly (see 10.2.4 and ventilation, in accordance
■ Ventilation, in accordance with the IEC 62485-2 standard, is
Assembly), to the same level as the
with the IEC 62485-2 provided during this operation.
other cells in the string.
standard, is mandatory during
A good commissioning is important
commissioning and operation. and mandatory. Charge at constant
current is preferable. ■ For cells filled on location or for 10.4. Charging in service
Prior and during commissioning filled cells which have been stored
charge, record all data requested in more than 6 months: Maintaining the recommended
the commissioning report available a) Charge for 30h at 1.65 V/cell battery charging voltage is very
on with current limited to 0.2 C5A important to insure long life to the
(see Tables A or B) battery. The battery charger must be
10.3.1 Constant current charge b) Discharge at 0.2 C5A to 1.0 V/cell set to the recommended charging
If the current limit is lower than c) Charge for 30 h at 1.65 V/cell values.
indicated in the Table A or B, charge with current limited to 0.2 C₅A
10.4.1. Continuous parallel
for a proportionally longer time. or charge for 48 h at 1.55 V/cell operation, with occasional
■ For cells filled and charged by current limited to 0.2 C5A battery discharge.
the factory and stored less than 6 (see Tables A or B)
Recommended charging voltage
months: Charge for 10 h at 0.2 C5 A The electrolyte temperature is to be (+20°C to +25°C / +68°F to +77°F):
recommended (see Tables A or B). monitored during charge. If the For two level charge:
■ For cells filled on location or for temperature exceeds + 45°C (+113°F) • Float level
filled cells which have been stored during charging,then it must be = 1.42 ± 0.01 V/cell for L cells
more than 6 months: stopped to reduce the temperature. = 1.40 ± 0.01 V/cell for M and H cells
a) Charge for 10 h at 0.2 C5A The charging can be resumed when
• High level (Boost)
recommended (see Tables A or B) electrolyte temperature drops below
= 1.47 - 1.70 V/cell for L cells
b) Discharge at 0.2 C5A to 1.0 V/cell + 40°C (+ 104°F).
= 1.45 - 1.70 V/cell for M and H cells.
c) Charge for 10 h at 0.2 C5A 10.3.3. Electrolyte adjustment A high voltage will increase the speed
recommended (see Tables A or B). after commissioning and efficiency of the recharging.
Note: At the end of the ■ For cells delivered filled by the For single level charge (Float and
charge, the cell voltage may reach factory: Boost charge are not available):
the level of 1.85 V per cell, thus - Check the electrolyte level and 1.43 - 1.50 V/cell.
the charger shall be able to supply adjust it to the maximum level
such voltage. When the charger 10.4.2. Buffer operation,
mark (upper) by adding distilled or
maximum voltage setting is too where the load exceeds the
deionized water.
low to supply constant current charger rating.
■ For cells filled on location:
charging, divide the battery into two - Check the electrolyte level and Recommended charging voltage
parts to be charged individually. adjust it to the maximum level mark (+20°C to +25°C / +68°F to +77°F):
(upper)by adding: electrolyte. 1.50 - 1.60 V/cell.
10.3.2. Constant voltage charge The battery is ready for use.
■ For cells filled and charged by Note: 10.5. Preventive
the factory and stored less than When full battery performance is maintenance
6 months: required for capacity test purposes,
the battery has to be charged in ■ Keep the battery clean using only
Charge for 24 h at 1.65 V/cell,
accordance with IEC 60623. water. Do not use a wire brush or
current limited to 0.2 C₅A or
solvents of any kind. Vent plugs can be
charge for 48 h at 1.55 V/cell,
rinsed in clean water if necessary.
current limited to 0.2 C5A (see
■ Check the charging voltage.
Tables A or B).
It is important that the recommended 10.6. Changing Electrolyte 10.8. Environment
charging voltage remains unchanged.
The charging voltage should be In most stationary battery To protect the environment all used
checked and recorded at least once applications, the electrolyte will retain batteries must be recycled.
yearly. If a cell float voltage is found its effectiveness for the life of the Contact your local Saft representative
below 1.35 V, high-rate charge is battery. for further information.
recommended to apply to the cell However, under special battery
concerned. operating conditions, if the electrolyte
■ Check visually the electrolyte level. is found to be carbonated, the battery
Never let the level fall below the performance can be restored by
minimum level mark (lower). Use only replacing the electrolyte.
distilled or deionized water to top-up. The electrolyte type to be used for
Experience will tell the time interval replacement in these cells is: E13.
between topping-up. Refer to "Electrolyte Instructions".
Note: Once the battery has been filled
10.7. Storage
with the correct electrolyte either
at the battery factory or during the Store the battery indoors in a dry,
battery commissioning, there is no clean, cool location (0°C to +30°C /
need to check the electrolyte density +32°F to+ 86°F) and well ventilated
periodically. Interpretation of density space.
easurements is difficult and could be Do not store in direct sunlight or
misleading. expose to excessive heat.
■ Check every two years that all
■ Cells filled and charged
connectors are tight. The connectors
• If cells are stored filled, they must
and terminal bolts should be
be fully charged prior to storage.
corrosion protected by coating with
• Cells may be stored filled and
a thin layer of anti-corrosion oil or
charged for a period not exceeding
12 months from date of dispatch
■ High water consumption is usually
from factory.
caused by high improper voltage
Storage of a filled battery at
setting of the charger.
temperatures above +30°C (+86°F)
Note that all these maintenance
can result in permanent change
recommendations followed the IEEE
and loss of product performance,
1106 standard ‘Recommended
depending on the duration of
Practice for Installation, Maintenance,
the storage above the maximum
Testing and Replacement of Vented
recommended temperature.
Nickel-Cadmium Batteries for
Stationary Applications’. ■ Cells empty and discharged
• Saft recommends to store cells
empty and discharged.
• Cells can be stored like this for
many years.
11. Maintenance of
block batteries in service

In a correctly designed standby 11.1 Cleanliness/mechanical 11.2 Topping-up

application, the block battery Cells must be kept clean and dry Check the electrolyte level. Never
requires the minimum of at all times, as dust and damp let the level fall below the lower
attention. However, it is good cause current leakage. Terminals MIN mark. Use only approved
practice with any system to carry and connectors should be kept distilled or deionized water to
out an inspection of the system clean, and any spillage during top-up. Do not overfill the cells.
at least once per year, or at the maintenance should be wiped off
recommended topping-up interval with a clean cloth. The battery can Excessive consumption of water
period to ensure that the be cleaned, using water. Do not indicates operation at too high a
charger, the battery and the use a wire brush or a solvent of voltage or too high a
auxiliary electronics are all any kind. Vent caps can be rinsed temperature. Negligible
functioning correctly. in clean water, if necessary. consumption of water, with
batteries on continuous low
When this inspection is carried Check that the flame-arresting current or float charge, could
out, it is recommended that vents are tightly fitted and that indicate under-charging.
certain procedures should be there are no deposits on the A reasonable consumption of
carried out to ensure that the vent caps. water is the best indication that
battery is maintained in a good a battery is being operated
state. Terminals should be checked for under the correct conditions.
tightness, and the terminals and Any marked change in the rate
connectors should be corrosion- of water consumption should be
protected by coating with a thin investigated immediately.
layer of neutral grease or anti-
corrosion oil. The topping-up interval can be
calculated as described in
section 6.9. However, it is
recommended that, initially,
electrolyte levels should be
monitored monthly to
determine the frequency of
topping-up required for a
particular installation.

Saft has a full range of topping-

up equipment available to aid this
11.3 Capacity check 11.4 Recommended
Electrical battery testing is not maintenance
part of normal routine procedure
maintenance, as the battery is In order to obtain the best from
required to give the back up your battery, the following
function and cannot be easily maintenance procedure is
taken out of service. recommended.

However, if a capacity test of the Yearly

battery is needed, the following check charge voltage settings
procedure should be followed: check cell voltages
(50 mV deviation from average
a) Discharge the battery at the is acceptable)
rate of 0.1 C5 to 0.2 C5 A (10 check float current of the battery
to 20 A for a 100 Ah battery) check electrolyte level
to a final average voltage of high voltage charge if agreed
1.0 V/cell (i.e. 92 volts for a for application
92 cell battery) Every 2 years
clean cell lids and battery area
b) Charge 200% (i.e. 200 Ah for check torque values, grease
a 100 Ah battery at the same terminals and connectors
rate used in a) Every 5 years or as required
capacity check
c) Discharge at the same rate As required
used in a), measuring and top-up with water according to
recording current, voltage and defined period (depend on float
time every hour, and more voltage, cycles and temperature)
frequently towards the end of
the discharge. This should be It is also recommended that a
continued until a final average maintenance record be kept
voltage of 1.0 V/cell is which should include a record of
reached. The overall state of the temperature of the battery
the battery can then be seen, room.
and if individual cell
measurements are taken, the
state of each cell can be
12. Disposal and recycling

In a world where autonomous Ni-Cd batteries must not be

sources of electric power are ever discarded as harmless waste and
more in demand, Saft batteries should be treated carefully in
provide an environmentally accordance with local and national
responsible answer to these needs. regulations. Your Saft representative
Environmental management lies at can assist with further information
the core of Saft’s business and we on these regulations and with the
take care to control every stage of a overall recycling procedure.
battery’s life-cycle in terms of
potential impact. Environmental
protection is our top priority, from
design and production through end-
of-life collection, disposal and

Our respect for the environment is

complemented by an equal respect
for our customers. We aim to
generate confidence in our products,
not only from a functional
standpoint, but also in terms of the
environmental safeguards that are
built into their life-cycle. The simple
and unique nature of the battery
components make them readily
recyclable and this process
safeguards valuable natural
resources for future generations.

In partnership with collection

agencies worldwide, Saft organizes
retrieval from pre-collection points
and the recycling of spent Saft
batteries. Information about Saft’s
collection network can be found on
our web site :
Saft is committed to the highest standards of environmental stewardship.
As part of its environmental commitment, Saft gives priority to recycled raw materials over virgin raw materials, reduces
its plants’ releases to air and water year after year, minimizes water usage, reduces fossil energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions,
and ensures that its customers have recycling solutions available for their spent batteries.
Regarding industrial Ni-Cd batteries, Saft has had partnerships for many years with collection companies in most EU countries, in
North America and in other countries. This collection network receives and dispatches our customers’ batteries at the end of their
lives to fully approved recycling facilities, in compliance with the laws governing trans-boundary waste shipments.
This collection network is undergoing minor adaptations to meet the requirements of the EU batteries directive. A list of our collection
points is available on our web site.
In other countries, Saft assists users of its batteries in finding environmentally sound recycling solutions. Please contact your sales
representative for further information.

Africa France Russia

Saft export sales dpt, Saft France, ZAO Ancor,
France Levallois-Perret Moscow
Tel. : +33 1 49 93 19 18 Tel. : +7495 788 5204
Fax : +33 1 49 93 19 56 Tel. : +33 1 58 63 16 00­ Fax : +7898 958 1323
Fax : +33 1 58 63 16 18
Argentina Singapore
Energia Alcalina, Germany Saft Batteries Pte Ltd,
Buenos Aires Saft Batterien GmbH, Singapore
Tel. : +54 11 4334 9034/35 Nürnberg Tel. : +65 6512 1500
Fax : +54 11 4342 5024 Tel. : +49 911 94 174-0 Fax : +65 6749 7282
Fax : +49 911 426 144
Australia Spain
Saft Australia Pty Ltd, Hong Kong (Stationary, railway, Saft Baterias S.L.
Seven Hills telecom and renewable applications) San Sebastian de los Reyes
Tel. : +61 2 9674 0700 Saft Hong Kong Ltd., Tel. : +34 916 593 480
Fax : +61 2 9620 9990 Kowloon Fax : +34 916 593 490
Tel. : +852 3568 7066
Austria Fax : +852 2798 0619 Sweden
Statron GmbH, Saft AB,
Wien India sub continent Oskarshamn
Tel. : +43 1 617 40 60 AMCO-Saft India Ltd, Tel. : +46 491 680 00
Fax : +43 1 617 40 60/40 Bangalore, India Fax : +46 491 681 80
Tel. : +91 80 2 363 7790
Belgium Fax : +91 80 2 363 7716 Switzerland
AEG Belgium SA, Statron AG,
Brussels Italy Mägenwil
Tel. : +32 2 529 6543 Saft Batterie Italia S.r.l., Tel. : +41 62 887 4 887
Fax : +32 2 529 6449 Segrate (Milano) Fax : +41 62 887 4 888
Tel. : +39 02 89 28 07 47
Brazil Fax : +39 02 89 28 07 62 United Kingdom
Adelco Sistemas de Energia Ltda., Saft Ltd,
São Paulo Japan Harlow
Tel. : +55 11 4199 7500 Sumitomo Corp., Tel. : +44 1279 772 550
Fax : +55 11 4161 5307 Tokyo Fax : +44 1279 420 909
Tel. : +81 3 5144 9082
Canada Fax : +81 3 5144 9267 USA
Please contact USA office Saft America Inc.,
China Enersys Korea Co. Ltd, (Stationary and renewable applications)
Saft (Zhuhai Free Trade Zone) Batteries Co Ltd, Seoul North Haven (CT)
Shanghai Tel. : +82 2501 0033 Tel. : +1 203 239 4718
Tel. : +86 21 5866 6405 Fax : +82 2501 0034 Fax : +1 203 234 7598
Fax : +86 21 5866 6403 (Telecom applications)
Czech Republic Troop y Compania, SA de CV, Valdosta (GA)
Saft Ferak a.s., Mexico Tel. : +1 229 245 2854
Prague Tel. : +52 55 50 82 10 30 Fax : +1 229 247 8486
Tel. : +420 257 013 260 Fax : +52 55 50 82 10 39 (Rail/Transit Sales)
Fax : +420 257 013 261 Cockeysville (MD)
Middle East Tel. : +1 410 771 32 00
Denmark Saft Nife ME Ltd, Fax : +1 410 771 11 44
Scansupply A/S, Limassol, Cyprus
Birkeroed Tel. : +357 25 820040 Venezuela
Tel. : +45 45 82 50 90 Fax : +357 25 748492 Corporación INTELEC C.A.,
Fax : +45 45 82 54 40 Caracas
Finland Saft Batterijen B.V., Tel. : +58 212 963 1122
HansaBattery Oy, Eindhoven Fax : +58 212 961 4908
Espoo Tel. : +31 40 272 1900 Western Asia
Tel. : +358 207 63 1883 Fax : +31 40 272 1904 Export sales dpt,
Fax : +358 207 63 1889 Sweden
Saft AS, Tel. : +46 491 680 00
Osteraas Fax : +46 491 681 80
Tel. : +47 6716 4160
Fax : +47 6716 4170

Doc N˚ 21081-2-0818
Saft Edition: August 2018
Industrial Standby Division Data in this document is subject to change without notice
26, Quai Charles Pasqua and becomes contractual only after written confirmation.

92300 Levallois-Perret – France Photo credit: © Royalty-Free/Corbis, PhotoDisc, ©Saft.

Tel: +33 (0) 1 58 63 16 00­ Saft Groupe S.A. - Société Anonyme au capital
de 26 300 205 €
Fax: +33 (0) 1 58 63 16 18 RCS Nanterre N 481.480.465