Batteries all have a similar physical structure, but can be differentiated by their chemical makeup. Electrodes, which are one of the most important components of batteries, are responsible for the chemical reactions that enable batteries to store and expel energy. Metallic elements have a structure that leads them to make good electrical conductors, making them ideal battery components. Electrolytes can be as diverse as the electrodes themselves based on the type of cell – wet or dry. Other than Lithium-ion which makes up over 90% of the market, here are a few types of batteries that are in use:
Zinc-Carbon: The first commercial dry battery to be sold in bulk, it provides 1.5V of power through the chemical reaction between the zinc anode and the carbon cathode. A single-use battery, it is usually found powering remotes and small appliances.
Alkaline: An upgraded version of the zinc-carbon battery with a higher density and longer shelf life, alkaline batteries get their names from their alkaline electrolyte, potassium hydroxide. There is a wide range of alkaline batteries using different electrodes, but not all are rechargeable.
Nickel-Metal Hydride: A rechargeable battery composed of a nickel hydroxide oxide cathode, hydrogen absorbing alloy anode and alkaline electrolyte. Nickel-metal hydride batteries provide similar voltage and efficiency as its non-rechargeable counterparts.
Lead-Acid: A large wet-cell battery that powers cars, planes and backup generators, the lead-acid battery is one of the oldest electric storage medium in production. Using a lead cathode and lead-dioxide anode with a sulfuric acid electrolyte, these batteries are not only rechargeable but can also be recycled.
Batteries are as diverse as the various applications they serve, and new advances in technology ensure that they will continue to be on the leading edge of sustainable development.