Frequently Asked Questions
Following Q&A will teach you everything you wanted to know about batteries and how to optimize the usage.
A battery is generally a kind of “device” which transforms chemical energy into electrical energy. Most battery chemistries house 2 different main raw materials, where one tends to be the positive electrode and the other the negative electrode. These materials and the way they have been treated and processed define the final type and quality of the batteries.
Batteries can usually only supply energy for a specific period of time. After this period the chemical reaction comes to an end and the batteries can no longer be used. In the case of rechargeable batteries, the chemical components are returned to their original state during the recharging process, so that the discharge can start again from the beginning.
The power of a battery is expressed in amperes and the voltage is expressed in volts.
The chemical composition of a battery determines its voltage and the quantity of material (the size of the battery) determines its power (expressed in Amperes).
The power of a battery is important when it comes to making an appliance work. This is because a sophisticated radio uses more energy than a simple travel alarm clock. The more demanding the appliance, the more power it needs to work. This also explains why some appliances make more space for batteries than others. Several batteries working together can deliver more power.
When you switch on a device like a flashlight, the electric circuit completes and electric currents in the form of electrons power the bulb. That happens because the anode material, zinc (Zn) gives up two electrons (e-) per atom in a process called oxidation. This process leaves unstable zinc ions (Zn2+) behind. (An ion is an atom that has gained or lost electron(s) so it has a positive or negative charge.)
After the electrons do their stuff and power the light bulb, they re-enter the battery at the cathode. There they combine with the active material, manganese dioxide (MnO2), in a process called reduction.
The electrons from batteries always travel in 1 direction; from the negative electrode to wards the positive electrode; this is called DC (Direct Current).
Oxidation and reduction could not occur in a battery without a way to carry electrons back to the anode after they enter the cathode. Here's where the electrolyte comes in.
After each electron enters the cathode, it reacts with the manganese dioxide to form MnOO-. Then the MnOO- reacts with water in the electrolyte solution. The water splits to hydroxide ions (OH-) and hydrogen ions (H+) that combine with MnOO- to form MnOOH. The hydroxide ions flow to the anode in the form of an ionic current.
There, they combine with unstable zinc ions which had given up their electrons to power the light bulb. The reaction produces zinc oxide (ZnO) and water (H2O). This completes the circuit (which is necessary to have a constant flow of electricity) and powers your flashlight.
Inside the battery the chemical attraction between the positive and the negative electrode produces the electrons. The speed of electron production by this reaction (the battery's internal resistance) controls how many electrons can flow between the terminals.
The law of Ohm: Ampère = Volt/Ohm
Ohm discovered that a current that flows through a wire is proportional to its cross sectional area and inversely proportional to its length.
The choice of materials used and the construction of the battery will determine how many electrons can flow at the same time and if this battery is right to power a specific appliance and it's needs ...
The Nickel Cadmium rechargeable batteries suffer from a so-called "memory loss". If they are recharged before they are completely empty, recharging is only partial.
As a result this lower capacity becomes the new maximum capacity.
Power cells perform differently depending on the way they're connected. If they're lined up in a series head to tail, like in a flashlight, the voltage output increases.
When two 1.5 volt cells are connected head-to-tail, the voltage grows to 3.
In the case of the 9 volt battery it is a series of six 1.5 volt cells.
Batteries are made by specialists: that much should be clear. Nevertheless, we would like to give you a simple recipe for making your own do-it-yourself battery. It goes without saying that this home-made battery will not deliver the same performance as products from well-known manufacturers like Panasonic Batteries.
What do you need?
- Lemon juice or table vinegar
- Coins containing copper, such as 1p or 2p coins
- Aluminium foil
- Stiff paper
- Tissue or kitchen roll
- Two electrical wires
How do you go about it?
Roll the stiff paper into a column into which the stack of coins will fit (don't put them in yet). Fold a circle of aluminium foil over one of the ends and secure it with tape. Tear off pieces of aluminium foil and press them into discs the same size and shape as the coins. Do the same with tissue or kitchen paper. Place these tissue or kitchen paper discs in the lemon juice or vinegar. Now fill the tube by stacking a disc of tissue, a coin and a disc of aluminium foil. Make sure you finish with a coin. Strip the plastic ends off the wires so that you can attach the copper from the wires to each end. Now test the battery using a bicycle light.
To recycle batteries they must be sorted beforehand to ensure, that they are separated into the different chemistries with a subsequent recycling and recovery of the metals and other recoverable materials.
Battery Industry has developed in the mid 90s a sorting technology to enable automatic and cost efficient sorting. Several automatic and semi-automatic sorting facilities are now operating in Europe.
Alkaline and Zinc-Carbon Batteries
Are reycled in metals industry and to recover steel, zinc, ferromanganese etc.
Are recycled to recover the Cadmium and Nickel, with positive market value.
Are recycled to recover Cobalt with a positive market value.
Are recycled in Lead industry with positive market value.
Button Cells Silveroxide buttons
Have a positive market value due to silver containing button cells (Alkaline, Zinc-Air). They are recycled to recover the mercury.
Approximately 70% of the batteries collected are recycled today in an existing recycling market in Europe. This rate will increase over the next years.