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What is a Battery? – Work, Types, Battery to Battery, and More

What is a Battery?

A battery called an electrical battery or accumulator is made up of electrochemical cells capable of converting chemical energy into electrical energy. Thus, batteries generate direct current and, in this way, serve to power different electrical circuits, depending on their size and power.

Batteries fully incorporate into our daily lives since their invention in the 19th century and their massive commercialization in the 20th. The development of batteries goes hand in hand with the technological advancement of electronics.

Remote controls, watches, computers of all kinds, cell phones, and a vast group of new devices use batteries as a source of electrical power, so they manufacture with different abilities.

How does a Battery Work?


The fundamental principle of a battery consists of the oxidation-reduction ( redox ) reactions of certain chemical substances, one of which loses electrons (oxidizes).

While the other gains electrons (reduces), being able to return to its initial configuration given the Necessary conditions: application of electricity (charging) or closing of the circuit (discharge).

Batteries contain chemical cells that have a positive pole (anode) and a negative pole (cathode) and electrolytes that allow electrical flow to the outside. These cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy through a reversible or irreversible process, depending on the type of battery, which, once complete, depletes its capacity to receive power. In this, two types of cells are distinguished:


  • Once the reaction has occurred, those cannot return to their original state, thus depleting their ability to store electrical current. They are also called non-rechargeable batteries.

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  • Those who can receive electrical energy to restore their original chemical composition and can use it numerous times before being completely exhausted. They also call rechargeable batteries.

Types of Battery


There are many types of batteries, depending on the elements used in their manufacture, such as:

1. Alkaline Batteries

  • Commonly disposable. They use potassium hydroxide (KOH) as the electrolyte. The chemical reaction that produces energy occurs between zinc (Zn, anode) and manganese dioxide (MnO 2, cathode). They are incredibly long-lasting batteries but short-lived.

2. Lead Acid Batteries

  • Common in vehicles and motorcycles. When charged, they are rechargeable batteries with two lead electrodes: a lead dioxide cathode (PbO 2 ) and a porous lead anode (Pb).
  • The electrolyte used is sulfuric acid (H 2 SO 4 ) in an aqueous solution. On the other hand, when the battery discharge, lead in the form of lead (II) sulfate (PbSO 4 ) deposited on metallic lead (Pb).
  • Then, during the initial charge, the PbSO 4 reduces Pb on the negative plates and PbO 2 form on the positives. In this process, lead oxidize and relieved at the same time.
  • On the other hand, PbO 2 reduce during discharge to PbSO 4, and Pb is also oxidized to produce PbSO 4.
  • These two processes can repeat cyclically until the PbSO 4 crystals become too large to lose chemical reactivity. This is the case where it colloquially says that the battery has been sulfated and must replace with a new one.

3. Nickel Batteries

Meagre cost but terrible performance, they are some of the first to manufacture in history. In turn, they gave rise to new batteries such as:

Nickel-iron (Ni-Fe): They consisted of thin tubes wound by sheets of nickel-plated steel. On the positive plates, they had nickel (III) hydroxide (Ni (OH) 3 ) and on the negative plates iron (Fe). The electrolyte used is potassium hydroxide (KOH). Although their life span was very long, they discontinue due to their low performance and high cost.

Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd): They compose of a cadmium (Cd) anode and a nickel (III) hydroxide (Ni (OH) 3 ) cathode, and potassium hydroxide (KOH) as electrolyte. These accumulators are perfectly rechargeable but have low energy density (barely 50Wh / kg). Also, they are used less and less due to their high memory effect (reduction in the capacity of batteries when we carry out preliminary charges) and that cadmium is very polluting.

Nickel-hydride (Ni-MH): They use nickel oxyhydroxide (NiOOH) for the anode and a metal hydride alloy for the cathode. They have a higher load capacity and a more negligible memory effect than Ni-Cd batteries.

And also, they do not affect the environment since they do not have Cd (very polluting and dangerous). They were the pioneers in use for electric vehicles since they are perfectly rechargeable.

4. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) Batteries

  • They use lithium salt as the electrolyte. They the most used batteries in small electronics, such as cell phones and other portable devices.
  • And also, they stand out for their enormous energy density, added that they are very light, have small size and good performance, but have a maximum life of three years.
  • Another advantage they have is their low memory effect.
  • When overheated, they can explode since their elements are flammable, so their production cost is high since safety elements must incorporate.

5. Lithium Polymer (LiPo) Batteries

  • They are a variation of ordinary lithium batteries. They have a better energy density and a better discharge rate.
  • Still, they have the disadvantage of being unusable if they lose their charge below 30%. So it is essential not to let them discharge completely.
  • They can also overheat and explode, so it is imperative never to wait too long to look at the battery or always keep it in a safe place away from flammable substances.

Battery to Battery

  • In many Spanish-speaking countries, only the term battery use.
  • In this context, the terms cell and battery are synonymous and come from the early days of human electricity manipulation.
  • The first accumulators consisted of groups of cells or metallic discs to increase the current supplied initially. That could arrange in two ways: one on top of the other, forming a battery, or one next to the other, in the form of a storm.
  • However, it should clarify that only the term battery use in many Spanish-speaking countries. And an accumulator prefers other electrical devices, such as capacitors.


Batteries have a charge capacity determined by the nature of their composition and measure in ampere-hours (Ah). This means that the battery can deliver one ampere of current over a continuous hour. The higher its charging capacity, the more current it can store inside.

Finally, the short life cycle of most commercial batteries has made them powerful water. And soil pollutants, since their life cycle is complete, cannot be recharged or reused and discarded. After their metallic cover oxidizes, batteries release their chemical content into the environment and alter their composition and pH.

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