Batteries are such an overwhelmingly prevalent aspect of our lives, most of us honestly take them for granted. The truth of the matter is that batteries are everywhere. We used to power a wide array of things. Even if you don’t use a lot of batteries in your daily life, it is still likely that you rely on batteries at different points during a normal day.
Understanding how batteries work can serve two purposes. In the first place, it can be fascinating information. In the second place, it may prove to be useful at some point in your life.
How Batteries Work
Mobile devices, hearing aids, and cars are just a few examples of vehicles which utilize batteries. While there are obviously specific batteries for specific purposes, all batteries essentially follow the same rules for functionality.
Most of the batteries you will find three main components. You have electrodes, the electrolyte, and the separator. Every battery will have two electrodes. One of these electrodes is known as the cathode. It connects to the positive side of your battery, and it is also where your electric current will leave your battery as it discharges. That is the point in which your battery is being used to power one thing or another.
Your other electrode is known as the anode. This will connect to your battery’s negative side. The electric currents will enter the battery during a discharge.
Existing between these electrodes are your electrolytes. They can also be found inside the electrodes, as well. The liquid substance offers what are known as ions. Think of ions as particles that have been electrically charged. Once the ions have been combined with everything that makes up your electrodes, a chemical reaction is going to occur. This in turn gives the battery the ability to produce that essential electric current.
Now, we can discuss the separator. This is the final component of the battery to keep in mind.
Facts About Batteries
Within the battery, you have your separator. This highly important part of the battery functions by keeping anodes and cathodes are far away from one another. If you don’t have a separator, your electrodes will come into direct contact. When this happens, a short circuit occurs, and your battery isn’t going to work.
Understanding the different components of most batteries, you can now better appreciate how batteries work:
- Imagine needing two AA batteries to power a standard flashlight. You know how to put the batteries in. Well, the next time you do this, understand that by doing this simple act, you are completing an actual circuit. The batteries are designed to complete this circuit in the most effective fashion possible.
- At this point, the stored chemical energies within the battery are going to become examples of electrical energy.
- Once the flashlight is on, this energy that we’re talking about is going to travel from the battery to the base of your flashlight’s bulb. This in turn will cause the flashlight to spring to life!
- While your flashlight is on, the electrical currents will reenter your battery. However, they are going to do this from the end opposite to where it originally came.
- All of these parts in your battery are designed to work in perfect unison.
- Your electrodes hold atoms that will contain certain materials related to conduction.
- With alkaline batteries, anodes are generally made out of zinc. Manganese dioxide can be found in the cathodes. The electrolytes inside and around these entities are likely to contain ions.
- Once the ions connect with the atoms of the electrodes, electrochemical reactions will occur.
- When electrons are released, anodes are negatively charged.
- At the same time, when electrons are released, the cathodes become positively charged.
- The charge difference compels the electrons to find and move towards your positively-charged cathodes. However, the separator keeps this from ever occurring.
With primary batteries, the reactions that allow something like your flashlight to work in the first place are eventually going to stop. This is obviously the point in which your batteries have died. This is also the point which rechargeable batteries or non-rechargeable batteries takes shape.
With rechargeable batteries, you can recharge the battery itself by feeding it electrical energy. Consider your cellphone, which runs on a battery. You naturally don’t have to buy a new battery for the phone every time it dies. You will simply plug your phone into an electrical outlet, and the battery will be recharged over a specific period of time.
Keep in mind, when shopping for batteries, voltage is one of your most important considerations. This is the part of the battery that tells you how much electrical force is going to be applied while the batteries are in use. Power density refers the degree of power per unit weight your battery is going to deliver.