How Do Batteries Work?

A battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Batteries have two electrodes, an anode (the negative end) and a cathode (the positive end). Collectively the anode and the cathode are called the electrodes. What is positve and what is the negative terminal? It would be great to simply say that the anode is negative and the cathode is positive, however, that is not always the case. Somtimes the opposite is true depending on battery technology. 

In between the battery’s two electrodes runs an electrical current caused primarily from a voltage differential between the anode and cathode. The voltage runs through a chemical called an electrolyte (which can be either liquid or solid). This battery consisting of two electrodes is called a voltaic cell.

The first inclination that an electrical path-way from an anode to a cathode within a battery or in this first instance “a frog” occurred in 1786, when Count Luigi Galvani (an Italian anatomist, 1737-1798) found that when the muscles of a dead frog were touched by two pieces of different metals, the muscle tissue twitched.

This led to idea by Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (Feb. 18, 1745- March 5, 1827), an Italian physicist who realized that the twitching was caused by an electrical current that was created by chemicals. Volta’s discovery led to the invention of the chemical battery (also called the voltaic pile) in 1800. His first voltaic piles were made from zinc and silver plates (separated by a cloth) put in a salt water bath. Volta improved the pile, using zinc and copper in a weak sulfuric acid bath and thus invented the first generator of continuous electrical current.

The batteries we use today are simply variations of the early battery or voltaic pile. Today’s battery’s are made up of plates of reactive chemicals separated by barriers, being polarized so all the electrons gather on one side. The side that all the electrons gather on becomes negatively charged, and the other side becomes positively charged. Connecting a device creates a current and the electrons flow through the device to the positive side. At the same time, an electrochemical reaction takes place inside the batteries to replenish the electrons. The effect is a chemical process that creates electrical energy (electrochemical energy).

Now with this backdrop let’s look more closely at one popular battery – the iPAQ Battery 167648 and use this battery as an example of what type of electrochemical reaction is occurring inside your battery to create power. Most batteries function in a similar fashion so this example should provide a basic back drop.

As you look at the iPAQ Battery 167648 at you will see that the technical specs are:

• Polymer Lithium
• 3.7 volts
• 1600 mAh
• 100% OEM compatible. IPAQ 167648 Battery is guaranteed to meet or exceed OEM specifications.
• Integrated Power Management Circuits – protect against over-voltage and under-voltage conditions and maximizes battery life between charges, minimizes charging times, and improves overall battery life.

These specifications are actually the measurements of some of the technical operations that are taking place inside the iPAQ 167648 Battery while the battery is powered and they quantify the energy that is used to power your iPAQ 167648 Battery.

The iPAQ 167648 Battery is the power source for the iPAQ 167648 PDA. The iPAQ 167648 battery converts chemical energy into electrical energy and that conversion is the basis of the energy formed to power the iPAQ 167648 Battery and device.

Inside the durable casing of the iPAQ 167648 Battery is an internal system design that includes two electrodes, an electrolyte, plates of reactive chemicals, and a dry cell.

Working in concert with each other each of these parts perform a specific function: to create electrical current to power the IPAQ 167648 Battery and device.

Let’s look closely at the internal design of the iPAQ 167648 battery.

The two electrodes contained within the iPAQ 167648 battery are the anode and the cathode. The anode is the positive electrode and it is where oxidation occurs. During oxidation oxygen is added to the electrode which causes the removal of electrons from the specific chemical compound (e.g. lithium). The cathode is where reduction (gain of electrons) takes place. A Redox reaction is one where electrons are gained from an oxidizing source. In the iPAQ 167648 Battery it is in the anode that oxidation occurs to pass electrons to the cathode.

The passing of electrons from the anode to the cathode is passed through an electrolyte. The electrolyte is a gel-like polymer film that does not conduct electricity but allows ion exchange. The dry polymer electrolyte design offers simplifications with respect to fabrication, ruggedness, safety, a razor thin-profile geometry, and enhanced conductivity. The electrolyte is held within a dry cell which is a galvanic electrochemical cell containing the pasty electrolyte.

As electrons pass through the electrolyte we can measure their volume in amperes (Amps) at a rate of one Amp to every 62,000,000,000,000,000,000 electrons per second.

[One side bar: In the case of iPAQ 167648 Battery the Amp rating is rated as mAh. A milliAmp hour (mAh) is most commonly used notation system for the iPAQ 167648 Battery. Note that 1000 mAh is the same as 1 Ah. (Just as 1000mm equals 1 meter.) Note that Amp hours do not dictate the flow of electrons at any given moment, that is the role of volts. An iPAQ 167648 Battery with a 1 Amp hour rating could deliver ½ Amp of current for 2 hours, or they could provide 2 Amps of current for ½ hour.]

As mentioned above as electrons are passing through the electrolyte of the 167648 Battery an electron flow is created. As the electrons flow from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte the electron flow becomes the current created by your iPAQ 167648 Battery to power your iPAQ 167648 Battery.

Current can be measured in volts, which is the electrical measure of energy potential. You can think of it as the pressure being exerted by all the electrons of your iPAQ 167648 Battery on the cathode as they move from the anode. This “pressure” of electrons are controlled so that just the right amount of current can be sent through your iPAQ 167648 Battery battery.

So as we started with our example of the iPAQ 167648 Battery we see that when the battery is powering your iPAQ 167648 Battery there is quite a lot of controlled work that is taking place, more than we typically realize is going on.

By the way the iPAQ Battery 167648 fits the following models:

IPAQ 3135 IPAQ H3135 IPAQ 3150 IPAQ H3150 IPAQ 3630 IPAQ H3630 IPAQ 3635 IPAQ H3635 IPAQ 3650 IPAQ H3650 IPAQ 3660 IPAQ H3660 IPAQ 3670 IPAQ H3670 IPAQ 3760 IPAQ H3760 IPAQ 3765 IPAQ H3765

Until next time Dan Hagopian,
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