What is a battery?
A battery is electrochemical energy storage that gathers and discharges energy thanks to reversible chemical reactions that facilitate charging equipment by means of electrical sources. A battery can transform chemical energy into electrical energy; the higher its carrying capacity, the more current it can store.
The voltage of the batteries is measured in volts, while their load capacity, or the amount of electricity they can store and subsequently supply while used, is measured in amperes per hour.
A battery’s charging capacity decreases depending on its age and use. It also has the so-called memory effect, which occurs when a battery is charged without being completely drained, which affects the energy’s storage capacity.
What parts make up a battery?
Every battery has:
- Cells with two terminals, one positive called a cathode and another negative called an anode.
- A conductive electrolyte.
- An air chamber.
- A container for all these parts.
How does a battery work?
A battery works thanks to a reaction involving electrochemical reduction and oxidation, which is usually called Redox. The reaction consists of an exchange of electrons between the two terminals for the transfer of energy, generating oxidation of the materials.
These terminals are immersed in an electrolytic solution, and since each of them has a different charge, they react in the opposite way: the anode oxidizes by releasing electrons, while the cathode reduces its oxidation due to gaining electrons.
The circulation of electrons from one terminal to another occurs by means of the electrical circuit connecting it. The poles reach their limit when the cathode is charged with electrons and the anode has lost them and completely oxidizes.
When a battery is drained, it can be recharged by being connected to an electric current. The process is completed when the chemical difference of its cells is restored, and they are ready to supply the stored energy.
What kind of batteries are there?
The most common types of batteries are:
- Lead-acid battery: a common, non-spillable energy accumulator; it’s especially common because it is affordable and versatile, as it’s used in areas ranging from electrical support for industries and homes to starting cars. It is particularly notable thanks to its stability, safety, and smooth operation, and it can withstand overloads and draining.
- Nickel-cadmium battery: a long-lasting galvanic battery capable of withstanding low temperatures and being resistant to overloads. It works due to the reaction between cadmium, nickel oxide, and water, forming cadmium hydroxide to generate an electromotive force.
- Nickel-metal hydride battery: a type of battery that was invented to replace the nickel-cadmium version for having greater capacity; however, unlike its predecessor, it does not work optimally at extreme temperatures, and it has a shorter charging and draining cycle, so it doesn’t last as long.
- Lithium-ion battery: it uses lithium salt as the electrolyte. It has high efficiency, a lower memory effect compared to other types of batteries, is low maintenance, and its (lithium) waste is easy to recycle. However, it doesn’t withstand temperature extremes and degenerates quickly. It is usually used in devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
- Lithium iron phosphate battery: it’s made from iron, lithium, and phosphorus electrodes, and its electrolyte is lithium salt – it is positioned as one of the safest and most affordable options available. It’s ideal for storing solar energy because it has a lot of energy density. In addition, thanks to its high oxidation capacity, it provides greater voltage.
Can batteries store sustainable energy?
Storing energy through batteries translates into energy efficiency and sustainability; this is because it lets you supply energy continuously, facing possible fluctuations from the generation source.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s Sustainable Development Scenario, for the energy transition objectives to be achieved, we must have 10,000 GWh of battery capacity as an energy storage source.