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List of battery types

Disposable batteries

Not designed to be rechargeable - sometimes called "primary cells". "Disposable" may also imply that special disposal procedures must take place for proper disposal according to regulation, depending on battery type.

    * Zinc-carbon battery: mid cost, used in light drain applications.
    * Zinc-chloride battery: similar to zinc-carbon but slightly longer life.
    * Alkaline battery: alkaline/manganese "long life" batteries widely used in both light-drain and heavy-drain applications.
    * Silver-oxide battery: commonly used in hearing aids, watches, and calculators.
    * Lithium-Thionyl Chloride battery: used in industrial applications, including computers, electric meters and other devices which contain volatile memory circuits and act as a "carryover" voltage to maintain the memory in the event of a main power failure. Other applications include providing power for wireless gas and water meters. The cells are rated at 3.6 Volts and come in 1/2AA, AA, 2/3A, A, C, D & DD sizes. They are relatively expensive, but have a long shelf life, losing less than 10% of their capacity in ten years.[1]
    * Mercury battery: formerly used in digital watches, radio communications, and portable electronic instruments. Manufactured only for specialist applications due to toxicity.
    * Zinc-air battery: commonly used in hearing aids.
    * Thermal battery: high-temperature reserve. Almost exclusively military applications.
    * Water-activated battery: used for radiosondes and emergency applications.
    * Nickel Oxyhydroxide battery: Ideal for applications that use bursts of high current, such as digital cameras. They will last two times longer than alkaline batteries in digital cameras.[2]
    * Paper battery: In August 2007, a research team at RPI (led by Drs. Robert Linhardt, Pulickel M. Ajayan, and Omkaram Nalamasu) developed a paper battery with aligned carbon nanotubes, designed to function as both a lithium-ion battery and a supercapacitor, using ionic liquid, essentially a liquid salt, as electrolyte. The sheets can be rolled, twisted, folded, or cut into numerous shapes with no loss of integrity or efficiency, or stacked, like printer paper (or a voltaic pile), to boost total output. As well, they can be made in a variety of sizes, from postage stamp to broadsheet. Their light weight and low cost make them attractive for portable electronics, aircraft, and automobiles, while their ability to use electrolytes in blood make them potentially useful for medical devices such as pacemakers. In addition, they are biodegradable, unlike most other disposable cells.[3][4]

[edit] Reserve batteries

A reserve battery is a primary battery in which some part of the system is isolated until the battery is to be put into use. Reserve batteries are used when long storage is required, since the highly active chemicals of the cell are segregated until needed, so self-discharge is reduced. [5] These batteries are used in missiles, projectile and bomb fuzes, radiosondes, and various weapon systems. Reserve batteries may be activated by addition of water, by adding electrolyte, by introducing a gas into the cell that is either the active cathode material or part of the electrolyte, or by heating a solid electrolyte to a temperature at which is becomes conductive. The missing element of the battery can be added before use in several ways. The battery can have water or electrolyte added manually, the battery can be activated when the system is dropped into the water (such as in a sonobouy), or electrolyte can be stored in a capsule within the battery and released by mechanical means, an electrical trigger, or by spin or shock. A molten-electrolyte battery is activated by igniting a heat source; the battery delivers current for a short time (seconds to a few minutes), but some thermal batteries can be stored 10 years or more without deterioration. Reserve batteries remain uncommon because of their higher cost and relatively short life after activation.

While not advertised as reserve batteries, the principle is illustrated by the sale of "dry charged" car batteries where the electrolyte is added at the time of sale, and by zinc-air batteries where the cell is sealed until use, and a tab is removed to admit air and activate the cell.

[edit] Rechargeable batteries
A rechargeable lithium polymer Nokia mobile phone battery.

    Main articles: Rechargeable battery and Battery charger

Also known as secondary batteries or accumulators. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association has estimated that U.S. demand for rechargeables is growing twice as fast as demand for non-rechargeables. [6] There are a few main types:

    * Nickel-cadmium battery (NiCd): Best used for motorized equipment and other high-discharge, short-term devices. NiCd batteries can withstand even more drain than NiMH; however, the mAh rating is not high enough to keep a device running for very long, and the memory effect is far more severe.[7]
    * Nickel hydrogen battery (NIH2), a service life of 15 years. The difference with a nickel-metal hydride battery is the storage of hydrogen in a pressurised cell.
    * Nickel-metal hydride battery (NiMH): Best used for high-tech devices. NiMH batteries can last up to four times longer than alkaline batteries because NiMH can withstand high current for a long while.[8]
    * Lithium ion battery: commonly used in digital cameras. Sometimes used in watches and computer clocks. Very long life (up to ten years in wristwatches) and capable of delivering high currents but expensive. Will operate in sub-zero temperatures.
    * Lithium ion polymer battery (Li poly battery): Polymer Li-ion batteries have been applied to PDAs, Notebook computers, Bluetooth devices, military uses and others. The main anode material of lithium-ion polymer batteries is lithium cobalt dioxide. [9]
    * Lithium sulfur battery: higher gravimetric and volumetric energy density than the Lithium ion battery, and constructed with low cost sulfur and without any heavy metals, promises to be more environmentally friendly and lower in cost. Can operate well in low temperatures. Potential applications include laptop power and all-electric vehicles.
    * Rechargeable alkaline battery: Uses similar chemistry as non-rechargeable alkaline batteries and are best suited for similar applications. [10] Additionally, they hold their charge for years, unlike NiCd and NiMH batteries. However drain/charging pattern can greatly affect their efficacy and lifespan.
    * Lithium iron phosphate battery (LiFeP) as used in the OLPC laptop.
    * Lead-acid battery, as mentioned above.
    * Flow batteries: a special class of rechargeable battery where additional quantities of electrolyte are stored outside the main power cell of the battery, and circulated through it by pumps or by movement.[11] Flow batteries can have extremely large capacities and are used in marine applications and are gaining popularity in grid energy storage applications. Zinc-bromine[11] and vanadium redox batteries are typical examples of commercially available flow batteries.

[edit] Homemade cells

Almost any liquid or moist object that has enough ions to be electrically conductive can serve as the electrolyte for a cell. As a novelty or science demonstration, it is possible to insert two electrodes made of different metals into a lemon,[12] potato,[13] etc. and generate small amounts of electricity. "Two-potato clocks" are also widely available in hobby and toy stores; they consist of a pair of cells, each consisting of a potato (lemon, et cetera) with two electrodes inserted into it, wired in series to form a battery with enough voltage to power a digital clock.[14] Homemade cells of this kind are of no real practical use, because they produce far less current—and cost far more per unit of energy generated—than commercial cells, due to the need for frequent replacement of the fruit or vegetable. In addition, one can make a voltaic pile from two coins (such as a nickel and a penny) and a piece of paper towel dipped in salt water. Such a pile would make very little voltage itself, but when many of them are stacked together in series, they can replace normal batteries for a short amount of time.[15]

Sony has developed a biologically friendly battery that generates electricity from sugar in a way that is similar to the processes observed in living organisms. The battery generates electricity through the use of enzymes that break down carbohydrates, which are essentially sugar.[16]

Lead acid cells can easily be manufactured at home, but a tedious charge/discharge cycle is needed to 'form' the plates. This is a process whereby lead sulfate forms on the plates, and during charge is converted to lead dioxide (positive plate) and pure lead (negative plate). Repeating this process results in a microscopically rough surface, with far greater surface area being exposed. This increases the current the cell can deliver. For an example, see [2].

Daniell cells are also easy to make at home. Aluminum-air batteries can also be produced with high purity aluminum. Aluminum foil batteries will produce some electricity, but they are not very efficient, in part because a significant amount of hydrogen gas is produced.

[edit] Battery packs

    Main article: Battery pack

The cells in a battery can be connected in parallel, series or in both. A parallel combination of cells has the same voltage as a single cell, but can supply a higher current (the sum of the currents from all the cells). A series combination has the same current rating as a single cell but its voltage is the sum of the voltages of all the cells. Most practical electrochemical batteries, such as 9-volt flashlight batteries and 12-volt automobile batteries, have several cells connected in series inside the casing.[17] Parallel arrangements suffer from the problem that, if one cell discharges faster than its neighbour, current will flow from the full cell to the empty cell, wasting power and possibly causing overheating. Even worse, if one cell becomes short-circuited due to an internal fault, its neighbour will be forced to discharge its maximum current into the faulty cell, leading to overheating and possibly explosion.[18] Cells in parallel are therefore usually fitted with an electronic circuit to protect them against these problems. In both series and parallel types, the energy stored in the battery is equal to the sum of the energies stored in all the cells.

[edit] Traction batteries
AGM Battery Cutaway Drawing of Braille Carbon Battery. Click to Enlarge Detail

A traction battery is a high-power battery designed to provide propulsion to move a vehicle, such as an electric car or tow motor. A major design consideration is power to weight ratio since the vehicle must carry the battery.[19] While conventional lead acid batteries[20] with liquid electrolyte have been used, gelled electrolyte[21] and AGM-type[22] can also be used, especially in smaller sizes.

The largest installations of batteries for propulsion of vehicles are found in submarines, although the toxic gas produced by seawater contact with acid electrolyte is a considerable hazard.

Battery types commercially used in electric vehicles include

    * lead-acid battery, which uses lead(IV) oxide (PbO2) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4)[23][citation needed]
          o flooded type with liquid electrolyte
          o gel
          o AGM-type (Absorbed Glass Mat)
    * Nickel-metal hydride and Nickel-Cadmium batteries
    * Lithium-Ion and Lithium-Polymer batteries
    * Zebra Na/NiCl2 battery operating at 270 °C requiring cooling in case of temperature excursions
    * NiZn battery (higher cell voltage 1.6 V and thus 25% increased specific energy, very short lifespan)
    * Lithium iron phosphate battery

See also: battery electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicle.