The zinc-carbon battery, first developed in the late 1880s, has been a reliable and low-cost source of power for generations of electrical and electronic devices. These non-rechargeable batteries are available in a several variations including the Leclanche and zinc-chloride types, each of which offers advantages in different areas of battery use, such as how long the battery holds up under demanding conditions.
Generally, zinc-carbon chemistry works by producing a current between the zinc in the battery’s metal case and a carbon rod inside the battery. A paste fills the battery, providing chemical ions that produce positive and negative electric charges. The zinc-chloride battery uses a paste made of zinc chloride, an inexpensive metal salt, and water.
Battery Types and Advantages
Manufacturers offer zinc-chloride batteries in standard familiar types including 1.5-volt AA, C, and D, making them easy to use (See Reference 2, pages 2 and 7) for devices such as toys and flashlights. Batteries with the zinc-chloride chemistry are classified as “super heavy duty” because they have nearly twice the total energy of standard zinc-carbon batteries. They also perform better in cold temperatures, suffer less voltage loss under high current demands, and are lighter than equivalent alkaline batteries. Zinc-chloride batteries have a sloping discharge curve, meaning they lose their strength gradually over time, but deliver some current even after prolonged heavy use.
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