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The Basics of Battery Technology

written by: Mike Aguilar • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 10/7/2011

Battery technology has come a long way over the centuries. Copper and lime or lemon juice has given way to exotic metals such as nickel and metal hydride. If you're curious about how batteries are made, what makes them work, or how to extend their lives, this is the right guide for you.

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    Battery technology has come a long way since the days of the citric juice and clay pot batteries that archaeologists believe the ancient Egyptians designed thousands of years ago. There are many different types of batteries, with almost as many applications as there are battery types. This guide references a wealth of information regarding alkaline and rechargeable batteries. Whether you’re just looking to find out how batteries work or you’re looking for the best battery for your laptop or cell phone, you’ll find referenced here an article that will help you make that decision. You’ll also discover ways to help extend your battery’s life and how to recycle your batteries responsibly when they are no longer any use to you..

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    Some Examples of Batteries

    Alkaline BatteriesButton BatteriesPower Utility Battery From the 1800sBattery Made Up of Other-Smaller Batteries
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    Different Types of Automotive Batteries

    Typical Car BatteryLithium-Ion Traction (Electric Car) BatteriesNickel-Cadmium Car Batteries
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    Types and Designs

    There are dozens of different sizes and shapes; from tiny wafer-type watch and hearing aid batteries to huge shipboard and utility system batteries, there’s a battery for just about any power need. Coupled with the multitude of sizes, there are also a wide variety of chemicals used to make batteries, such as Nickel-Metal Hydride, Lithium-ion, lead-acid, and many others. You’ll read all about the various chemicals that batteries are made with. You’ll discover how the various chemicals and compounds the battery is made of work together to cause it to produce an electrical voltage, and you’ll also be given information on some of the many different ways that batteries are used, from cell phones and laptops, to uninterruptible power supplies for buildings and power utilities.

    Types of Batteries and Their Applications

    Advantages of Zinc-Air Batteries

    Lithium Titanate Batteries Explained

    How Dry Cell Batteries Generate Electricity

    Li-Air Batteries to Extend Electric Vehicle Range

    Batteries as an Alternative to Fuel Cells: ZPower’s Ross Dueber Explains How

    Very Large Battery Systems for Utility-Level Power Storage

    Batteries Used On Ships

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    Alkaline Battery Construction

    Alkaline Battery Construction
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    About Rechargeable Batteries

    Rechargeable batteries are unique in that when they go dead, you can, with the right equipment, induce a complete new charge into them, allowing you to use them again. Some rechargeable batteries, such as car batteries, allow for the battery to be discharged and recharged thousands of times over the lifetime of the battery. Batteries for personal electronic devices, such as MP3 players, digital cameras, cell phones, flashlights, and portable stereos, can normally be recharged as many as one thousand times. You’ll find information on how to care for rechargeable batteries and extend their usable life. You’ll also find some information on how rechargeable batteries are rechargeable. Wondering why your rechargeable batteries aren’t holding a charge for as long as they should? You’ll read some useful troubleshooting tips so that you can have a chance to regain some of that usable life back.

    A Guide to Rechargeable Batteries (for Electronic Devices)

    How Do Rechargeable Batteries Work? Recycling Battery Life Span (in Electronics Engineering)

    Troubleshooting a Battery That Won't Hold a Charge (in Photography)

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    Battery Reviews by Application

    The amount of usable life a battery has depends on a number of factors, including the quality of the construction methods and materials and your usage habits. If the battery in your laptop isn’t holding a charge for as long as it used to, it may be time to replace it. You’ll find some information here that will help you make an informed buying decision to help you get the best battery for your money. You’ll also find a comparison of the batteries available for your laptop- both manufacturer specific and less expensive compatible models. You’re also going to find some helpful information on the best batteries for your cell phone and marine applications as well. Additionally, you’ll find some information on what the best batteries for digital cameras. Lastly, you’ll find some information on what you can expect from notebook batteries.

    Battery Ratings for Marine Applications Explained

    Buying a Laptop PC for Windows - Battery and Operating System

    Laptop Battery Truth, Lies and Propaganda

    Best HTC Mogul Extended Batteries

    What is the Difference Between 4-cell vs. 6-cell Laptop Batteries?

    Top 3 Batteries for Digital Cameras

    Laptop Battery: OEM vs. Compatible Batteries

    How Long Do Netbook Batteries Last?

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    Extending Battery Life in Selected Devices

    Hearing your cell phone or digital camera’s low battery warning tone can be frustrating. This is especially true if you’re in the middle of a conversation and nowhere near a charger. Or maybe you’re at a family gathering taking pictures with your digital camera when you hear that beeping tone telling you the camera is shutting off. If you own an HTC, Blackberry, or iPhone, you’ll find some tips and tricks to help you extend the life of your cell phone’s battery. You’ll also find out how to maximize the life of the battery(ies) powering your digital camera.

    Maintaining Your iPhone Battery to Extend it's Life

    Simple Guide to Extend BlackBerry Battery Life

    Tips and Tricks for Improving Battery Life of the HTC Hero

    How to Take Care of Rechargeable Camera Batteries

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    Special Considerations in Marine Battery Applications

    Batteries have been used in ships for a quite a long time. The original submarines that weren’t human-powered were powered by batteries. However, these early batteries had a major drawback that sometimes proved fatal to the sub’s crew: Exposure of the batteries to salt water, even in small quantities, caused the generation of deadly chlorine gas. Marine battery technology has evolved over the years. Referenced below you’ll find lists of battery types that are in use in marine applications as well as information on how these batteries are maintained aboard ship. Anchors Aweigh, matey!

    Batteries Used On Ships

    Battery Selection For Marine Purposes

    How Is Battery Maintenance Done Onboard Ships?

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    Responsible Battery Recycling

    Environmental responsibility is high on many peoples’ lists these days. The chemicals used in batteries, whether they’re regular alkaline batteries or one of the many varieties of rechargeable batteries, can cause severe problems to ground water sources and the ground in and around where they’re improperly disposed of. Referenced below you’ll find a wealth of information regarding the process by which batteries are recycled as well as information on how you can responsibly recycle your used batteries when you’re through with them.

    How To Dispose & Recycle Used Batteries

    How to Recycle Hearing Aid Batteries

    Recycling of Lead Acid Batteries - What's Involved


  • Large scale utility battery (Efron Electric Accumulator) image courtesy wikimedia commons:

  • Alkaline battery cutaway image courtesy wikimedia commons:

  • Batteries inside a battery image courtesy wikimedia commons:

  • Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cad) Traction Battery image courtesy wikimedia commons:

  • Typical car battery image courtesy wikimedia commons:

  • Lithium-ion (Li-ion) traction battery (electric car battery) image courtesy of wikimedia commons:

  • Energizer batteries image courtesy wikimedia commons:

  • Button cell batteries image courtesy of wikimedia commons: