Ultimate Guide to Understanding Car Batteries
Lithium-ion, alkaline, rechargeable, and others are present in our daily lives. Batteries work in our cell phones, portable devices, and, more recently, electric trucks and cars. Many experts are currently looking to “convert” traditional, gasoline-powered cars into cars with hydrogen fuel cells, which are a kind of battery.
While battery technology is available in many areas of our lives, some people still don’t know how these work, and terms like “electric current,” “dry cell batteries,” “nicad battery,” and more can be confusing. The truth is, however, the process isn’t that hard to understand, which is why this article will walk you through how these items process electrical energy to power up tools, devices, and many more things.
A battery is, in essence, an item that can store chemical energy and convert it to electrical energy. This process involves a chemical reaction that makes battery electrons flow through an external circuit from the positive terminal to the negative terminal. Overall, the flow of electrons and their chemical reactions form an electrical current in the electrochemical cell, which is then used to power tools or other things.
The electrodes are the areas where the electrons will flow from and to. The negative electrode is called the “anode,” and the positive electrode is called the “cathode.” The positive electrode involves a carbon rod surrounded by carbon powder and manganese dioxide. Overall, there’s a chemical reaction in both electrodes. In the anode (negative electrode), the electrode will react with electrolytes, creating electrons that will accumulate there.
On the other hand, different chemical reactions in the cathode (positive electrode) will allow the electrode to receive electrons from the anode. Some electrolyte chemicals that enable the flow of electrons include potassium hydroxide, chloride, and sodium. However, depending on the type of battery, you may see different chemicals, including manganese oxide, ammonium chloride, citric acid, sulfuric acid, and more.
The name of the devices makes it self-explanatory. Overall, non-rechargeable batteries (or disposable batteries) can only be used to power up devices once. How much energy they have depends on the type. When the battery gets completely discharged, you must throw them away.
This simple battery generates an electric current that may power up devices like radios, watches, toys, and more. These can also produce electricity to power devices like traditional cameras or light bulbs.
On the other hand, a rechargeable battery, as its name suggests, can be used over and over since it can reverse the chemical energy that drives electrons through the circuit. One of the most popular types of these batteries is the lithium-ion battery. Lithium batteries are the ones used to power up mobile phones, laptops, and tablets.
Once the energy storage in a battery like this runs out, you can plug it into an external source that reverses the electrons from the positive terminal to the negative terminal, known as “charging.” These batteries power up several devices today, including electric trucks and cars, which is why they’re considered the “modern battery.” Still, batteries may get used for particular purposes.
Absolutely! There are different types of batteries depending on the purpose. Although you may not notice the difference at first glance, they may be used for other purposes.
In the case of a rechargeable battery, you can expect the following types:
On the other hand, we have the following types of batteries for non-rechargeable ones:
As you may have already guessed, the electrochemical cells used in most electric vehicles are lithium-ion ones. This is because they have a higher energy-per-unit mass than other electrical storage systems.
Moreover, these batteries have high energy efficiency, good performance in high temperatures, and low self-discharge. Still, these aren’t the only power source for EVs since other batteries that can produce enough electrical energy to power them up include solid-state batteries, although lithium-ion ones are more popular.
For several reasons, EVs have proven to be an excellent alternative to traditional gasoline-powered cars. However, they use electrical charge and stored energy to run instead of gasoline, translating to a cleaner environment and much lower running costs.
Although they may seem similar, some people are considering the possibility of using hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles instead of batteries. The main difference between the two items is that a battery can store energy. In contrast, the fuel cell can continually produce electricity and heat if you provide fuel.
In other words, a fuel cell doesn’t need recharging as a regular battery would. In the case of hydrogen fuel cells, they convert hydrogen and oxygen into water, producing electricity. If the system keeps receiving oxygen and hydrogen, the fuel cell will never run out of energy. Hydrogen fuel cells would be excellent options, considering they would potentially reduce harmful emissions. Still, we may have to wait sometime until we start seeing cars with this new system implemented in them.
This is because manufacturers would have to change their vehicles’ technology, fuel supply, and fuel distribution systems to make cars with hydrogen fuel cells. John Heywood, director of the Sloan Automotive Research Laboratory, explains that while changing gasoline-powered cars for hydrogen fuel cell cars can happen, it’s not something that may happen soon.
Overall, making the change is too challenging and costly, which is why Heywood thinks that it would make more sense to start making changes in long-haul trucks or large diesel vehicles.
As you know now, there are different chemical reactions when it comes to batteries. In the case of EVs, using batteries has proven to be an excellent alternative to what we already have. However, there may be some cases of defective batteries that may affect you or your loved ones. Even if you understand how batteries work, it may be nice to have legal help if these battery-powered devices fail.
You may seek help from the Ehline Law Firm by calling (833) LETS-SUE today!
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.