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June 16, 2022

Manganese-Copper Reserve Battery Chemistry FAQ

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Magnesium-Copper Chloride Reserve Cells

The magnesium-cuprous chloride system is a member of the reserve cell family. It can't be used as a primary battery because of its high self-discharge rate, but it has a high discharge rate and power density, so it can be made "dry charged" and sit forever ready, just add water. The added advantage of being light-weight has made these practical for portable emergency batteries.

It works by depositing copper metal out onto the magnesium anode, just like the old copper-coated nail experiment.

Variations of this battery use silver chloride, lead chloride, copper iodide, or copper thiocyanate to react with the magnesium.

The water does not have to be pure, sea water, tap water, or even recycled beer have been used. The torpedo batteries force seawater through the battery to get up to 460 kW of power to drive the propeller.
Type Reaction Nominal Voltage Range
Mg CuCl Mg + 2 CuCl —> MgCl2+ 2 Cu 1.6 Volts 1.5-1.6V

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