Rechargeable Batteries 101

History

In recent years, the need for rechargeable batteries, also known as secondary cells, has grown due to the increase in portable technology. This includes laptops, cell phones, cameras and more. They have been around since 1859 when French physicist Gaston Plante invented the lead acid cell, which is the oldest type of rechargeable battery.

How They Work

Rechargeable batteries work by fully restoring its energy capacity when an electric current is applied to them. Just like we go to sleep every night to restore our energy for the next day. They are considered to be electrochemical cells, which produce a finite amount of energy, which once depleted can be recharged by reversing the chemical reaction with the aid of a charging current supplied by the battery charger.

Types of Rechargeable Batteries

  1. Lead-acid batteries

One of the most common secondary batteries, used primarily for storing large cell potential. These are commonly found in automobile engines.  Its advantages include low cost, high voltage and large storage of cell potential; and disadvantages include heavy mass, reduced output at low-temperatures, and inability to maintain its potential for long periods of time through disuse.

  1. The nickel-cadmium

The nickel-cadmium battery is another common secondary battery that is suited for low-temperature conditions with a long shelf life. However, the nickel-cadmium batteries are more expensive and their capacity in terms of watt-hours per kilogram is less than that of the nickel-zinc rechargeable batteries.

  1. Silver-zinc batteries

A less commonly used rechargeable battery, is capable of providing high currents, high voltage, and is equivalent in watt-hour capacity to six lead-acid batteries. These are commonly seen as the little silver buttons in hearing aids, tiny flash lights and so on. Because of its high energy density, silver-zinc batteries are used in missiles and torpedoes, electronics, satellites, and compact portable devices.