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Battery School Part 1 – The foundations of a battery

Updated: Mar 15

Hi and welcome to Battery School! My name is Bobbie and I'll guide you along the way.

Welcome to our first class in battery school!

Today we will explain the foundation of a battery and how it works. Batteries are built upon technologies and chemistries. The first technical split is made between primary (non-rechargeable) and secondary (rechargeable) battery technologies. The basic structure of a battery cell is that it consists of an anode (-), a cathode (+), and an electrolyte. If the battery is rechargeable, it also has a separator that helps keep the electrodes apart.

How does it work?

How does the lamp get power to shine? In order to power the lamp, a current must move from a cathode, pass through a circuit, and then into an anode.

The anode has an excess of electrons and therefor a negative charge, ergo electrons flow out from the anode into the device.

The cathode has a shortage of electrons and therefor a positive charge, which means that it attracts electrons.

However, a battery cannot function without an electrolyte. It is the substance, often a gel or liquid, that is capable of transporting ions between the chemical reactions that happens at the anode and cathode. The electrolyte also impedes the flow of electrons between the anode and cathode so since electrons cannot pass through it, they are forced to travel through electrical conductors in the form of a circuit that connect the anode to the cathode.

To conclude; a non-rechargeable battery is called a primary battery and a rechargeable battery is called a secondary battery. The anode has an excess of electrons, and the cathode has a shortage of electrons. The electrolyte is crucial because without it there would be no chemical reactions in the anode and cathode, and without that chemical reaction there wouldn’t be a flow of electrons that powers the connected device.

Electrons travel from the anode, through the circuit, and towards the cathode.