How do batteries work?

We have the heavenly freedom to use our mobile devices in a, well, mobile manner. We can move about thanks to the absence of a cable to keep using it. Batteries are a wonder of science that enables us to live an easy, cable-less life. But what drives batteries? How does the recharging of batteries take place?

Working principle:

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Batteries provide a flow of electrical charge to power our devices. This flow of electrons is powered by a chemical reaction. In the chemical reaction, a metal oxidizes (gives out electrons) while another substance reduces(takes in electrons). This oxidation-reduction process synthesizes a flow of electrons, and if you put a bulb in between the flow, it will glow. Eventually, the metal used in the process will lose all its electrons and the battery is ‘dead’.

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Rechargeable batteries provide a solution to this problem. When you plug in a battery, a flow of electric current reverses the oxidation-reduction process and restarts the entire thing. This creates electrons available for oxidation when needed. However, repeated recharging of batteries creates anomalies on the metal’s surface. This makes the oxidation process not work properly. Thus, even rechargeable batteries have a limited life.

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Li-ion batteries:

There is a cathode and an anode. The cathode is made of pure lithium metal oxide. The anode is made of graphite. There is an electrolyte between the two terminals. This electrolyte must be as pure and free of water as possible for efficiency. There is also a separator between the cathode and anode that prevents short circuits. This separator allows the ions through it. While the battery is discharging(being used up), ions travel from the anode to the cathode. When it is being charged, ions travel back to the anode.

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Solid State batteries:

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Traditionally used Li-ion batteries are nearing their full potential. In times like this, there are talks about solid-state batteries. These are faster, cheaper and much safer(they are less inflammable). The solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte instead of the liquid one used in Li-ion batteries. Thus the lesser inflammability.

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