Reinventing Edison’s Battery After 120 Years!

by Kareena Dodeja
Reinventing Edison’s Battery After 120 Years!

March 9, 2021

Thomas Edison was indeed a brilliant inventor. In the 1900s, he created a nickel-iron battery (Edison's Batter) to be used in electric vehicles back then. Scientists and engineers now have rediscovered his work and believe it could be the ultimate source of clean fuel energy.

The American inventor Thomas Edison has come up with magnificent inventions such as the Light Bulb and the first-ever Phonograph. Back in the day, his brilliant mind invented mind-bending genius innovations for humankind.

During his peak, Edison had also created a  type of storage battery. His work on the battery had been built on Swedish Inventor Ernst Waldemar Jugner’s hypothesis, who first patented the battery in 1899. This new type of battery was called the ‘Nickel-Iron Battery’, which was open to every car ownership that could afford it. The battery was not perfect, it was more expensive than lead-acid batteries, and while charging, it would release hydrogen, which could be dangerous.

At the turn of the 20th century, Thomas Edison experimented with an electric car. It was not the first electric car, but Edison's battery was different.

The delay in making an efficient prototype led to fuel-powered vehicles taking over. Old fuel-powered vehicles could go longer distances with fuel, and people took to it. As a result, the battery deal with Ford fell apart, yet his invention was used for railroad signaling. Here, the two shortcomings of his battery – size and production of hydrogen as a result of energy production.

Working of the Nickel-Iron Battery (Edison's Battery)

A research team working at the Delft University of Technology has been working on Edison’s battery or the nickel-iron batter. They aim to assess the production of hydrogen and power storage. They have decided to rename their version of the battery as ‘battolyser’, and the results have been phenomenal.

Fokko Mulder, the research team leader, claimed that water-splitting produces hydrogen, which is also clean fuel, provided that the energy can be derived from a renewable source.
The electrodes in the battery were capable of splitting water, but the team discovered that the electrodes have high energy storage before the hydrogen was produced.

Mulder and his team used it as an electrolyser and were surprised to find how the electrodes dealt with the process. According to Mulder, they found that the batter’s energy efficiency was better than traditional batteries reaching 80-90%.

Nickel iron batteries are known for their longer life, and ability to deep discharge. Utilizing their patented Fused Iron Technology,

Only hydrogen has been mentioned as a product of this battery, but ammonia and methanol are also generated. Hans Vrijenhoef, the chief executive of Proton Ventures, who invested in the battolyser, claims that a battolyser ammonia plant would reduce manpower. Thus, all the costs would drastically lower, which could help it become sustainable.
The engineers believe this battery could be an answer for renewable energy. It could be a source of clean energy like wind and solar energy. Hydrogen, although a risky element, could be useful through these batteries.

Edison's Battery now, Battolyser is Cheap and efficient

Mulder and his team were astonished that this nickel-iron battery can solve two crises in renewable energy. It could help with energy storage and produce clean fuel when they are full. They are working on making it sustainable and cheap. 

The modern day Edison’s Battery, battolyser could be an innovation that is cheap and yet does not affect the environment. There are a few shortcomings, such as reducing the internal resistance, which is the opposition to the flow of current in a battery. It needs to be low, so there is more efficiency. The team has been vigorously working on trying to find a balance.

Good and Bad of Edison's Battery - Battolyser!

John Barton, the research associate at Loughborough University, found that nickel-iron batteries are resilient and can withstand undercharging or overcharging. The hydrogen production could add daily or inter-seasonal energy storage, which could be a huge boon.


There are more advantages to the battery; it is low maintenance and durable, which makes it easier to use. The metals used in the battery are just nickel and iron, so it is common. Battolyser’s role in renewable energy makes it further profitable.

Mulder says that electricity prices are high, but if we can discharge Edison’s Battery, it could become low maintenance and make hydrogen.

There is also some competition with alkaline electrolysers and batteries that can perform the same function. They are also more established in hydrogen production. However, the battolyser can get this done for a cheaper rate which could make it a best-seller.

The Nuon Magnum power plant is a 1.32GW gas-fired combined-cycle power plant located in Eemshaven, Netherlands. Operational since 2014, the three-unit plant is owned and operated by Nuon, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vattenfall.

Research is required for Battolyser

A lot is yet to be done; the battolyser is only 15kW/15kWh, which can power 1.5 households. If it wants to work in larger spots like the Magnum Power Station, it needs to be a version of 30Kw/ 30kWh. They have also been figuring out ways to distribute the battolyser to energy producers. This could be a step-up for solar and wind farms to have the power that is reasonable and sustainable.

Edison’s Battery is an innovation that is noteworthy; it has been brought back after 120 years and could be used to have a sustainable environment. Hail Edison!


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