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How do batteries work? A straightforward explanation
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How do batteries work? A straightforward explanation

September 30, 2023
Batteries convert chemical energy into electrical energy through a redox reaction, providing power for various devices.
How do batteries work?

What is a battery?

A battery is an indispensable energy storage device that plays a significant role in our daily lives by providing electricity when and where it is needed. To further emphasize this, here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • A battery stores energy in a chemical form through one or more electrochemical cells.
  • Each cell comprises two electrodes and an electrolyte, allowing a chemical reaction to generate electrical energy.
  • Batteries come in various shapes and sizes, from small ones like those in your TV remote to larger ones in your car.
  • They provide a portable and convenient electrical power source for various applications, from running electronics to starting vehicle engines.

Batteries are a crucial part of modern life, allowing us to power devices and vehicles quickly and efficiently.

How does a battery work?

A battery works by converting chemical energy into electrical energy. Here is how it happens in simple terms:

Electrochemical reaction

In a battery, two distinct substances are known as electrodes (typically consisting of a metal such as zinc and a metal oxide like manganese dioxide) and an electrolyte (a material that conducts ions). Connecting the battery to a device creates a circuit.

Release of electrons

When the electrodes and electrolyte materials react chemically, some atoms lose electrons. These electrons produce an electric current that flows from one electrode to the other through the external circuit. This powers your device in the process.

Flow of electrons

Electrons move from the anode to the cathode through the external circuit, providing the connected device with electrical energy.

Reversible reaction

The chemical reaction in a battery is reversible. When you recharge a rechargeable battery, it stores energy back in the battery for later use.

How fossil fuels can help in battery storage?

Battery storage: what affects battery capacity?

  • Battery chemistry affects energy storage, charge/discharge efficiency, and cycle life
  • Battery capacity is measured in Ah or Wh, and higher-capacity batteries can store more energy.
  • Voltage determines electrical potential, and higher-voltage batteries can provide more power.
  • Temperature affects battery performance, and extreme temperatures can reduce efficiency and lifespan.
  • SOC refers to the amount of energy stored in the battery and should be managed to prevent damage
  • Charging and discharging rates impact the battery's ability to store and deliver energy.
  • Cycle life is the number of charge-discharge cycles before capacity significantly degrades.
  • DoD refers to how much of the battery's capacity is used during each cycle
  • Environmental factors can affect battery storage. Proper storage conditions are crucial
  • BMS plays a critical role in monitoring and managing battery performance
  • Application requirements influence storage requirements
  • Batteries naturally age and wear, reducing capacity and performance over time.

Conclusion

An analysis of power plant data in the United States shows that there are now more planned and under-construction battery installations than natural gas-fired plants. This is a significant milestone for the industry.

Although batteries cannot generate electricity independently, they can store excess energy during periods of low demand and release it during peak demand, supporting the grid and complementing other generation sources.

This shift toward batteries has several implications:

  • Batteries will help stabilize electricity prices and store excess wind and solar energy.
  • Batteries are often paired with renewable energy sources to ensure a consistent power supply.
  • Natural gas generation is expected to gradually decline over the next decade as renewables and batteries become more prominent.