Mercury Batteries for Pacemakers and Other Implantable Devices

  • Alvin J. Salkind
  • Samuel Ruben


The first pacemakers powered by primary cells, circa 1958, utilized the zincalkaline electrolyte-mercuric oxide cell previously developed(1) for military and other special high-reliability requirements. These were commonly called RM cells for Ruben-Mallory, after the inventor Samuel Ruben and the principal manufacturer P. R. Mallory and Co., Inc. (now Duracell). Because of military needs during the early 1940s, these cells were also manufactured by Ray-O-Vac and Sprague and were labeled RMR and RMS. Although these cells were sealed, the seal was a plastic grommet that permitted hydrogen to vent from the cell. These cells had been designed to achieve high energy density per unit volume, a long storage (stand) life at elevated temperatures, and a constant flat discharge voltage. Figure 1 is a photograph of the three mercury zinc pacemaker cells that were manufactured by Mallory, LeClanché, and General Electric. The stability of this electrochemical battery system is illustrated by the data (Fig. 2), which plots open-circuit voltage versus time for batteries that were stored at 21°C, over a five-year time interval.(2) These design factors matched the electrical requirements of the early pacemakers, except for voltage, and five or six cells were used in series to achieve circuit voltages between 6 and 8 V.


Zinc Oxide Alkaline Electrolyte Pressure Relief Valve Zinc Electrode Zinc Sulfate Solution 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alvin J. Salkind
    • 1
  • Samuel Ruben
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Bioengineering SectionUMDNJ-Rutgers Medical SchoolPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.Reed CollegePortlandUSA

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