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Dictionaries say there's "battery attendant" specialty. The name implies that's a specially trained person who somehow services batteries while they are in operation.

AFAIK the only kind of batteries that require maintenance is flooded lead-acid and the actual maintenance is adding distilled water. I don't see how this would require a designated specialty.

What's so complex in handling batteries that a designated "battery attendant" specialty exists and what does such specialist actually do?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: I wonder why a question about battery handling is offtopic here. \$\endgroup\$
    – sharptooth
    Jun 23, 2011 at 7:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ The details behind having a battery attendant specialty does not related to electronics design or hardware hacking. If you need to know any special considerations for a specific battery that is useful. If you need to know design challenges for using a battery it would be related to designing your electronics. If you would like to know details of why a different cell chemistry is chosen for a different package size, that is really chemistry. If you would like to know why there is a specialty for attending batteries(like repair) that is outside our scope also, but just barely. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Jun 23, 2011 at 8:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is consumer electronics, as a short answer explanation. Or possibly more technical and should be a chemistry or safety ordinance type question, which we are not a home for. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Jun 23, 2011 at 8:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: Well, my motivation to ask here was the following: with all my (rather poor) knowledge on consumer electronics I couldn't find what could be so hard in maintaining batteries that a specialty is required. So the question is mostly about problems with battery maintenance, not about the specialty itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – sharptooth
    Jun 23, 2011 at 8:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ battery maintenance is still not an electrical design problem. I understood that was probably your intention. We have a large number of questions discussing battery health. There are a number here whom have worked with batteries a large amount, myself included, but at some point it is moving out of designing electronics and into the realm of consuming electronics, this fits that pretty well in my eyes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Jun 23, 2011 at 10:14

5 Answers 5

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Also on aircraft most batteries are composed of Ni Cad cells. The must periodically be tore down, cleaned, tested, reassembled and recharged before being placed back in service. Poorly maintained batteries generate hydrogen gas which can build up and with the right (or wrong depending on how you look at it) mix of oxygen and a spark exploded. Battery explosions almost always cause fired usually resulting in the loss of the aircraft and unfortunately who ever is on board at the time.

Typically specially trained electricians maintain the batteries.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ NiCd?? When NiMH are superior, especially since the development of low self-discharge types. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Jun 22, 2011 at 13:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh It can take decades to get new developments certified for aircraft... \$\endgroup\$ Jun 22, 2011 at 13:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh For some situations (but not most situations) NiCd can be better than NiMH. Mostly for super-high discharge rates. The best example of this is the cordless tool industry where many manufacturers skipped over NiMH completely and went from NiCd directly to Lithium-Ion-- because NiCD didn't offer any advantages for that application. \$\endgroup\$
    – user3624
    Jun 22, 2011 at 16:42
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Depending on the technology, when not handled properly, batteries may catch fire or even explode. They also almost always contain hazardous chemicals.
I think the battery attendant would be a person to take care of large battery installations. A hospital for instance has backup power from diesel generators, but needs (much!) battery power to bridge the time between a power outage and the moment the generators are up and running. Power to intensive care units and operating rooms in particular should never be interrupted. Keeping such batteries in good condition is literally a matter of life and dead. (I've worked in a hospital which, as a first measure, received power directly from two different power plants.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I can only add that there is alot of hassle with batteries on non-atomic submarines. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 22, 2011 at 8:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... and maybe on atomic submarines as well? \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Jun 22, 2011 at 8:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, they have very few of them. On 'conventional' submarines, batteries is the main source of power under water, so they have literally TONNS of them. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 22, 2011 at 9:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Barsmonster - don't they have generators on their engines? Seems more power/weight-efficient to me. (Disclaimer: it's been a while since I designed submarines :-)) \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Jun 22, 2011 at 9:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JGord - Nah, just personal use, for the weekends ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Jun 22, 2011 at 14:22
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I'm guessing this job description came from the early telephone days. Everything was run from banks of lead-acid batteries with 48V nominal output. There were enough of these installations and they required enough care that I'm not surprised that a specialty evolved to handle them.

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Imagine if you will a whole room filled with lead acid batteries, all linked together with big chunky copper bus-bars.

Now imagine if you will someone dropping a spanner and it shorting said bus-bars.

That actually happened with a friend in a Vodafone facility... Not his spanner, but someone else who was working in there without the proper training. It was nasty.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Okay, that happens. What would a battery attendant do what an electrician can't do? \$\endgroup\$
    – sharptooth
    Jun 22, 2011 at 11:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would imagine be trained in handling hazardous chemicals. \$\endgroup\$
    – Majenko
    Jun 22, 2011 at 11:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ but not spanners! :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Jun 22, 2011 at 11:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Quite. He should read the COSHH (Control of Spanners Hazardous to Health) regulations. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeJ-UK
    Jun 22, 2011 at 12:57
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The "gravity cell" was popular with telegraph networks until the 1950s.

It was typically assembled on-site out of a glass jar, a copper electrode, a zinc "crow's foot" electrode, copper sulfate crystals, and water.

How many people do you know that could look through the glass walls of a gravity cell, and see at a glance the following typical problems and fix them?

  • mixing caused by too little current draw
  • mixing caused by too much current draw
  • cell completely "drained" of energy -- time to replace the consumables. The crow's foot, of course, ... and something else?
  • water level low -- did you remember the oil?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great. Are such cells still in use at any industrial facilities? \$\endgroup\$
    – sharptooth
    Jun 23, 2011 at 7:44

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