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In 1899, Waldemar Jungner of Sweden created the first nickel-cadmium battery. At this time, the only direct competitor was the lead acid battery.
The nickel-cadmium battery offered several advantages in certain applications. Early nickel-cadmium batteries were physically and chemically robust and, early modifications to the design increased the energy density to about half of that of primary batteries, significantly better than lead acid batteries.
The nickel-cadmium battery (commonly abbreviated NiCd battery) is a rechargeable system which uses active chemicals based on nickel (Ni) and cadmium (Cd). .(See Nickel Cadmium Battery Principles)
Through its electrochemistry, the nickel cadmium battery has a stable behaviour giving it a long life, good electrical and mechanical characteristics and a resistance against abusive conditions.
Another historically important modification to the basic nickel-cadmium cell was the addition of lithium hydroxide to the potassium hydroxide electrolyte. This has the effect of prolonging the service life by making the cell more resistant to electrical abuse.
In its ‘flooded’ form it is found in general industrial applications and,has a specific niche market in application areas which are difficult for other battery technologies.
Due to their beneficial technical characteristics as compared to lead based technologies and good service lifetimes, they are used in standby applications such as railway lighting and security applications, start batteries for aeroplanes and critical stationary applications where a high level of security is required.
See Manufacturing for an overview of the industrial process at the Redditch factory.