Alkaline batteries are a common type of battery found in most households. They come in many different sizes, and power electronic items such as remote controls, toys and clocks. Some alkaline batteries are rechargeable, others are not. Alkaline batteries contain a number of ingredients, both active ingredients that produce electricity and others that are part of the structure of the battery.
Ingredients in the Cathode
The cathode is the part of the battery from which energy flows out, known as the positive end of the battery. The ingredients in the cathode are manganese dioxide, graphite and potassium hydroxide. When the battery is made, these are mixed together and then compacted into cylinders in order to form the correct shape. For larger batteries, several layers may be used. The contents of the cylinders is then surrounded by nickel-plated steel to form the cathode. An indentation is made in the cathode and then a sealant is used to prevent the battery from leaking.
Ingredients in the Anode
The anode is the part of the battery that energy flows in to, known as the negative end of the battery. It is at the other end of the battery to the cathode. The anode is made of a gel which includes zinc and potassium hydroxide which form a chemical suspension. The battery produces electricity because of a chemical reaction between the zinc in the anode and the manganese dioxide in the cathode, and when batteries are made space needs to be left for this chemical reaction to take place, so the zinc gel does not entirely fill the battery.
Ingredients in the Separator
The separator acts to prevent the materials in the cathode from coming into contact with the materials in the anode. The separator can be made of several layers of paper or of a synthetic material.
Ingredients in the Seal
While the cathode and anode contain the active ingredients in the battery, in order for it to work properly, it needs to be sealed. If a battery were not sealed, it would be inefficient and would wear out quickly. There are several components to the seal, each with a different function. There is a brass spike through the center of two-thirds of the battery that collects the current that runs through the battery. There is a metal cap that is welded to the spike and placed on the anode end of the battery, and a steel plate that is attached to the cathode end of the battery. There is also a plastic seal.
Ingredients in the Label
A plastic label is put on the outside of the battery. This has information about the manufacturer, the size of the battery and any other information that the manufacturer wants to include.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
How to Test an Alkaline Battery
Unlike rechargeable batteries, alkaline batteries, also known as "primary batteries," have one life cycle. Once their power is depleted, they must be...