We are all concerned about preserving our environment. Removing mercury from Zinc-Air batteries is a natural consequence of this concern. It is now possible to produce mercury-free Zinc-Air batteries of a high quality and in certain market areas all hearing aid batteries will soon be required to be mercury-free. The major battery manufacturers have therefore voluntary agreed to achieve this goal by the end of June 2011.
The battery industry has already made remarkable progress technologically, but there can still be problems when using the new mercury-free type of batteries in hearing aids. Hearing aid users have reported cut-outs, shorter battery life than expected as well as battery low warning tones even when batteries are quite new.
The problems are not caused by any fault in the hearing aids as such, but are caused by a low battery voltage that in many cases results from the mercury-free battery technology. The user will often experience lower battery capacity. Such problems occur in particular in hearing aids having high current draw from the battery, such as power aids and hearing aids with wireless connectivity. The incidence of these problems has increased significantly after the introduction of mercury-free batteries.
If you consistently experience the problems described above, it would be advisable to try a different type of battery. Your hearing aid supplier may be able to advise you on which types cause the least problems.
Power aids and wireless solutions
The hearing aid manufacturers are well aware of the challenges which the new type of battery faces and will work towards products that can function well on lower voltages in order to minimize battery related problems. Many hearing aids on the market such as power aids and hearing aids with wireless connectivity are designed to work with the voltage levels provided by batteries relying on mercury. These hearing aids require batteries with performance comparable to good batteries using mercury-based battery technology.
Both the hearing aid manufacturers and battery manufacturers are confident that the problems will be solved in the near future and that the battery manufacturers will soon be able to offer batteries with the same performance that has been available in the past from batteries with mercury.