The proliferation of energy-hungry handheld devices has increased the need for lighter cells and batteries that have more energy and are rechargeable. In many cases, this means lithium chemistry. However, there is definitely still a need and many use cases for alkaline batteries, as battery suppliers will attest.
Alkaline cells and batteries derive and deliver energy from the reaction between zinc metal and manganese dioxide. These batteries have a positive anode (the zinc end) and a negative cathode (the manganese end). Also called electrodes, these parts of a battery are the site of chemical reactions that occur due to their interaction with the ions from a solution of potassium hydroxide.
Specifically, a buildup of electrons creates an electrical difference between the positive anode and negative cathode. Because there is no direct connection between the anode and cathode, the electrons remain in place until the battery is inserted into a device. This forms a completed circuit, allowing energy to flow. The alkaline battery chemistry has a number of important advantages.
Advantages of Alkaline Cells and Batteries
Alkaline batteries provide a number of benefits, including:
- High energy density. Alkaline batteries pack in more energy than other types. For example, an alkaline battery has double the energy density of a zinc-carbon battery. As a result, alkaline cells and batteries can produce the same energy as other batteries while lasting longer.
- Personal and environmental safety. As compared to lead-based and acid-based batteries, the compounds in an alkaline battery do not pose serious health risks. At worst, the compounds may cause mild irritations. Plus, alkaline batteries do not have any special disposal requirements and have less of an environmental impact.
- Battery life. Alkaline batteries have excellent longevity and a longer shelf life than batteries with a chloride-type electrolyte. Unused alkaline batteries can last up to seven years, losing just five percent of their energy per year. Consequently, they are a great source of backup power that can sit on the shelf until it is needed.
- Minimal leakage risk. Alkaline batteries are much less susceptible to leakage when compared to other batteries.
- Low temperature operation. Alkaline batteries can operate at very low temperatures as compared to some other battery chemistries. This gives them an advantage in harsh, cold-weather climates.
- Standard sizing. Batteries with alkaline chemistry come in standard sizes, which makes it easier for engineers and product developers to incorporate them in designs. Alkaline batteries are also easy to obtain for use as they build, revise, and test prototypes.
- Serial use. Alkaline batteries can be connected in a series to produce higher voltage arrays, and can be arranged in a variety of configurations to meet a wide range of requirements.
- Ideal for potting. Potting is the process of filling an enclosure with a compound to increase shock resistance as well as to create a barrier against moisture and corrosive materials. Alkaline batteries are excellent candidates for potting, as they don’t experience the internal temperature changes and gassing that some other types of batteries do.
Disadvantages of Alkaline Cells and Batteries
While alkaline batteries deliver many benefits, battery suppliers also know there are a few drawbacks as well. For example, as compared to lithium ion batteries, alkaline batteries are heavier and bulkier. Alkaline batteries also have a high internal resistance. This reduces the power output of a battery.
In addition, while they are not as prone to leaking as some other types of cells and batteries, alkaline batteries will leak if left in devices unused for too long. In some cases, this corrosive leakage can damage a device, even to the point of rendering it inoperable. Consequently, alkaline batteries should be removed from devices if they will not be used for an extended period.
However, even with these disadvantages taken into account, alkaline batteries are still an excellent option for many uses, including in the development of battery packs. As a result, they remain a popular choice in many markets and in many types of devices.
Our full-service facility in Colorado can create alkaline-chemistry battery packs from prototype to final packaging, quickly and cost-effectively. Contact Rapport, Inc. today to get your battery pack project started!