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A battery, also called a battery or electric accumulator, is an energy storage device made up of electrochemical cells capable of converting the chemical energy inside into electrical energy. In this way, batteries generate direct current and thus supply various electrical circuits.
These batteries have a charge capacity determined by their composition, which is measured in amperes (Ah). This means that the battery can deliver one ampere over a continuous hour of time. The higher its charge capacity, the more current it can store inside.
How a battery works
The basic principle of a battery consists of the oxidation-reduction reactions (called redox) of a chemical substance, one of which loses electrons (oxidises) while the other gains electrons (reduces). In this way it can return to its initial configuration under the necessary conditions: the application of electricity (charging) or the closing of the circuit (discharging).
Types of battery
Depending on the elements used in its manufacture, there are many types of batteries:
This type of battery is often discarded. They use potassium hydroxide (KOH) as electrolyte. The chemical reaction that produces energy occurs between zinc (Zn, anode) and manganese dioxide (MnO2, cathode). They are extremely stable, but short-lived batteries.
These are the most common in vehicles and motorbikes. They are rechargeable batteries that when charged have two lead electrodes: a lead dioxide (PbO2) cathode and a sponge lead (Pb) anode. The electrolyte used is sulphuric acid (H2SO4).
Nickel batteries have a lower cost but their performance is quite low. They were the first batteries to be manufactured, and gave rise to nickel-iron batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries and nickel-hydride batteries.
Lithium batteries are currently the most efficient batteries. They are used in consumer electronics such as tablets and smartphones because of their small size, low weight and excellent performance compared to other batteries on the market.
These batteries use lithium salt as electrolyte. They are the most commonly used batteries in small electronics, such as mobile phones and other portable devices. They have high energy density, are very light with small size and good performance, but have a life cycle of 3 years.
The recycling of batteries has become essential, because the short life cycle of most commercial batteries has turned them into a potent pollutant of water and soil. This is because once they have completed their life cycle, batteries cannot be recharged or used, and many are disposed of in landfills when their separate components can be reused.
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