Four Important Facts About Batteries

Posted on: 9 April 2018

You rely on them to power everything from your thermostat to your car, but how much do you really know about batteries? Their operation and history can seem complex, but by knowing at least the basics about batteries and how they operate, you can make purchasing the right batteries easier -- and maintaining them easier, too. Here are four important facts about batteries you need to know.

1. Batteries rely on an anode and cathode.

Batteries work by generating a flow of electrons from one end of the battery, through the wiring in your device, to the other end of the battery. The half of the battery that consists of a negatively charged substance is called the anode. It gives away electrons and is marked with a minus sign (-). The side of the battery that accepts these electrons and has a net positive charge is called the cathode and is represented with a plus sign (+).

2. The composition of the anode and cathode varies.

Different types of batteries use different materials for the anode and the cathode. The common AA and AAA batteries you use in household items use zinc as the negatively charged anode material and magnesium as the positively charged cathode material. Rechargeable batteries often use lithium for both the anode and cathode. This way, the battery can be recharged; the charges can be reversed and sent back to the other side.

Lithium silicon batteries are a newer innovation which uses lithium in the cathode and a combination of lithium and silicon anodes. These batteries have an increased performance compared to standard lithium batteries and are often used in computing.

3. Batteries are older than the electric generator.

Batteries were actually invented in the late 1800s by a man named Alessandro Volta, which is why early batteries were called voltaic batteries. It did not take rechargeable batteries long to come out, either. They were invented in 1836. The electric generator, meanwhile, originated in 1831. Remember this whenever you put a battery into your device; this method of powering equipment surely has staying power.

4. You must recycle batteries.

The chemicals in the anodes and cathodes of batteries can often cause environmental damage if not disposed of properly. So always get rid of batteries by sending them to a recycling facility. Most electronics stores and many libraries have containers where you can place your used batteries for pickup.