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June 16, 2022

Mercury-oxide PowerStream Battery Chemistry FAQ

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Mercury Oxide Cells

Anode: Zinc (or cadmium)

Cathode: Mercuric Oxide (HgO)

Electrolyte: Potassium hydroxide

Applications: Small electronic equipment, hearing aids, photography, alarm systems, emergency beacons, detonators, radio microphones

This is an obsolete technology. Most if not all of the manufacture of these cells has been stopped by government regulators. Mercury batteries come in two main varieties: zinc/mercuric oxide and cadmium/mercuric oxide. The zinc/mercuric oxide system has high volumetric specific energy (400 Wh/L), long storage life, and stable voltage. The cadmium/mercuric oxide system has good high temperature and good low temperature (-55 C to +80 C, some designs to +180 C) and has very low gas evolution.

Basic Cell Reaction Voltage Electrochemical Efficiency
Zn + HgO = ZnO + Hg 1.35 V 820 mAH/g(Zn), 250 mAH/g(Hg)
Cd + HgO + H2O = Cd(OH2) + Hg 0.91 V 480 mAH/g(Cd)

The electrolytes used in mercury cells are sodium and/or potassium hydroxide solutions, making these alkaline cells. These cells are not rechargeable.



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