What’s a battery?

Battery Statistics

Portable energy for mobility:

In the world of increasing mobility batteries are the sources to power the mobile appliances. Due to the wide range of applications a wide range of battery types are developed and sold, to achieve the best performance of the applications.

Shapes of batteries also vary due to the variety on space within appliances:

  • Roundcells: are the standard shape for replacement, primary batteries. AA, AAA, C, D are the main representatives.
  • Button Cells: Specially designed for small appliances such as hearing aids, watches and toys. They have a shape of a button.
  • Battery packs: In most cases the battery packs contain rechargeable batteries, which fit into the design of appliances such as mobile phones, camcorders, etc.

Besides these main shapes of batteries more specialised batteries are made for specific professional users.

The chemistry of batteries defines the capacity, energy density and the ability to be recharged:

Primary Batteries

By defenition primary batteries cannot be recharged. The large majority of primary batteries are Alkaline and Zinc Carbon Batteries. They consist of steel, manganese dioxide, Carbon, Zinc and Electrolyte. They do not contain any hazardous materials since 1993 and are defined as non – hazardous in the EU Waste Catalogue. For high energy density a modified Lithium Alkaline battery (Li-Primary) is widely used in photocameras. More than 80% of batteries sold in Europe are primary batteries. They do not contain any hazardous materials since 1993. Primary batteries are available in all shapes.

Button cells are usually primary batteries, as they are not rechargeable. The typical chemistry used in button cells are: silver oxide, Alkaline, Li-Primary, and Zinc-Air. They are mainly used in watches, hearing aids, small appliances with short high energy consumption and toys.

Rechargeable batteries

Rechargeable batteries are used in mobile phones, home appliances, IT-equipment, power tools, emergency lighting systems and back-up systems for professional users and many other applications. There are four main chemistries used in rechargeable batteries:

  • Lithium-ion: Lithium has the highest electrochemical potential. It is however, an unstable metal and thus this battery system is made from Lithium ions from chemicals. Because of its lightness and high energy density, Lithium-Ion batteries are ideal for portable devices such as laptop computers and can be recharged often. The only disadvantage to Lithium-Ion batteries is that they are currently more expensive than NiCd and NiMH.
  • Nickel Cadmium: NiCad stands for nickel-cadmium, the materials used in the battery packs for many power tools, cordless phones and small household appliances. NiCad batteries provide a high energy density in a short time.
  • Nickel-Metal Hydride: NiMH stands for Nickel-Metal Hydride, the materials used in battery packs for appliances like mobile phones and small household appliances.
  • Lead Acid: The Pb-Acid system is the oldest rechargeable battery system and is mainly used in cars as a starter battery (not part of the portable battery industry). Portable small Pb-Acid batteries are used in appliances used for out-door, in sports, mining, farming activities and for industrial applications like motive power and standby.