Batteries are an array of one or more tiny cells whose electrical chemical reactions produce a flow of electrons at a series of contacts in a battery. The number of cells in a battery will depend on what type of battery is used and how it is being charged. All batteries, however, are made up of at least three basic parts: a positive anode, a negative cathode, and a thin electrolyte film. The electrolyte acts as a kind of solvent between the two substances and allows them to be separated. When a chemical reaction occurs between the two substances, this separation produces energy, which is then converted into electricity in the form of a direct current.
A battery’s positive and negative anodes are the chemical bonds that send electrical current between the positive and negative contacts. A positive electrode is a metal, such as steel, copper, or zinc; a negative electrode is a metal plate, such as lead; and the electrolyte, a liquid such as sodium hydroxide, carbonic acid, or silicon dioxide. Between these three main parts, however, lie a multitude of different chemical reactions which, collectively, power the battery. The anodes in turn are composed of a material called the cathode, which absorbs energy from the chemical reaction that occurs between the anodes.
The anodes are usually made out of metal conductors such as copper or lead. The problem with anode material is that the electrons it contains would rather prefer to go down the circuit than up. In order to overcome this problem, the cathode is often coated with a substance called the electrolytic cathode. An electrolytic cathode has a positive charge on its anodic surface which attracts electrons from neighboring chemicals and then brings those electrons back to itself, so that it can use them to power itself.
There are two types of batteries: alkaline and acid. Alkaline batteries produce electricity from chemical reactions that occur between the electrolytes and a positive and negative charge on the cathode. Acid batteries (also known as electrolytic batteries) function from a reaction between the acid and the carbon dioxide in the air. The electrolysis inside the battery takes place when two substances that are negatively charged meet. When you buy batteries, whether they are designed for alkaline or acid purposes, make sure you check the label so you’re buying the right type.
Batteries can be used to power just about anything. They’re widely used in motorized vehicles, household appliances, and even hand tools. Batteries also supply electricity to remote villages, where generators are tied into houses to supply electricity; and they power things like scooters, wheelchairs, golf carts, motorcycles, boats, calculators, and satellites.
The number of volts the battery is capable of holding depends on how many times the anode is filled with a particular amount of fluid. When the battery is charging, the anode is full of chemical potential energy; therefore, the higher the number of volts, the higher the potential energy. Batteries discharge when the anode has reached its maximum potential energy. You can calculate the discharge in percentage terms by dividing the total current by the maximum possible discharge. If you want to know how much current your battery is holding at any given time, you can use a multimeter to measure the voltage. To learn more about batteries and their applications, talk to a sales representative at a local store.