Batteries, Rechargeable Batteries and Their Types

With the popularization of equipment such as digital cameras and MP3 players,  rechargeable batteries  are increasingly used. The main reason is the fact that  disposable batteries are expensive for those who need constant use of them . This article will show the main characteristics of rechargeable batteries, including capacity, the most common types of rechargeable batteries, and the chargers to use. Common Types of Batteries

What are rechargeable batteries? Common Types of Batteries

A conventional battery is discarded when its charge runs out  or remains at an insufficient (weak) power level. With a rechargeable battery, it is enough to use a suitable device for the energy charge to be restored. With that,  the battery can be used again, numerous times.

It is important to remember that  a conventional cell (or battery) cannot be recharged . Although there are devices for that, the chemical composition of this type of battery is not ready for recharging. As a consequence,  leaks (and poisonings), device malfunction, and even explosions can occur! 

Rechargeable batteries are capable of being recharged, although not infinitely many times . The standard validity of these batteries depends on their type and their proper use.

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Types of rechargeable batteries Common Types of Batteries

The market basically offers two types of rechargeable batteries: NiCd and MiMH:

– NiCd batteries (Nickel Cadmium)

Also called Nickel Cadmium, this is the type of rechargeable battery that came out first. NiCd batteries are usually cheaper. However, they  have a shorter useful life, in addition to having a lower load capacity. 

Nickel Cadmium batteries can suffer from a problem called the “memory effect”. When that happens,  the battery stops being fully charged due to its chemical composition and gives a signal that the charge is complete.  To understand better, imagine that a battery has a memory effect that reaches 10% of its capacity. This indicates that its charge will be 90%, as the battery will indicate that the remaining 10% are already charged.

The memory effect occurs when charge residues in the battery induce the formation of small blocks of cadmium. The best way to avoid this problem is not to recharge when the battery is partially discharged.  It is better to wait until the battery runs out and can no longer be used in any equipment.

NiCd batteries are increasingly in disuse, because in addition to the memory effect, their lower capacity and the shorter useful life,  this type of battery is highly polluting,  since cadmium is a highly toxic and harmful chemical element for the environment.

Also called Nickel Metal Hydrate,  NiMH batteries are the most widely used type today, as they offer greater capacity, longer life and support more recharges  when compared to NiCd (depending on the manufacturer, that may not be true). In addition, they  are less polluting,  since they do not use heavy materials, such as cadmium. Another advantage of this type is the non-existence of the memory effect.

Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries are lighter, have a high energy capacity and a high resistance to discharge. They do not have the problem of memory effect and support a large number of load cycles.

Its main problems lie in its  rapid degradation and its sensitivity to high temperatures,  which can result in its destruction by ignition or even explosion.

Rechargeable Battery Capacities Common Types of Batteries

The energy capacity of batteries is measured in milliamps per hour, which stands for mAh. Thus, it is necessary to know the consumption of each piece of equipment to measure the duration of use of the battery in the device.

As an example, imagine you have an mp3 player that uses a type AAA battery and draws 200 mA. If the battery has a capacity of 1000 mAh, its duration will be:

1000/200 = 5 hours 

It is clear that this calculation is not precise, since other factors and characteristics of the equipment can increase consumption.

Battery chargers Common Types of Batteries

As the name implies, chargers are devices responsible for recharging batteries. The procedure is simple:  just place one or two pairs of rechargeable batteries in the device and plug it into the mains.

This way of working makes us think that the battery is charged through the transfer of energy to the battery, just as water is drawn from the tap to fill a bottle. Truth be told, it is not as simple as that.

The process of recharging batteries consists of passing an electric current through them so that the energy is “captured” and stored.  The higher the current (faster chargers), the shorter the time required for recharging. However,  the higher “working speed” causes heat generation to increase , which is why a charger capable of indicating when the battery is fully charged should be chosen. Heating can drain the pile and, in the worst case scenario, cause an explosion.

In the market,  chargers that perform a slower recharge are more common . The advantages of this type are in the price and in the drastic reduction of the  risk of overheating of the batteries.  On top of that, batteries end up having a longer life.

When choosing a charger,  choose models that work with both NiCd and NiMH. Give preference to those that cut the current (actually, they keep a low current to keep the power in the battery) when the charge is complete.

Beware of fake rechargeable batteries

With the increasing use of rechargeable batteries, the pirate industry did not limit itself to counterfeiting conventional batteries. Depending on the location, it is much easier to find fake batteries than real ones. The reason for such a large distribution is the supply.

Counterfeit batteries – whether conventional or rechargeable – can cause problems . This type of battery should be avoided, among others, for the following reasons:

– Frequently it has less capacity than that indicated on the packaging;
– Does not use the specified technology, eg NiCd instead of NiMH;
– May be of inferior quality and can be emptied more easily;
– It may have a shorter useful life than normal.

What is a dry cell or battery

Battery counterfeiters are very skilled at this “art.” Still, it  is possible to tell when a stack is bogus by looking at a number of characteristics.  For example, it is common for hackers to advertise that an AA battery has 3600 mAh when, in truth, the maximum achieved so far (at least as of the closing of this article) is 2600 mAh.

Therefore, it  is advisable to buy batteries in reputable stores or websites . If you have doubts, you can contact a manufacturer or official distributor to find out which establishments or virtual stores sell the product that interests you. It may be a bit more expensive to buy the original, but at least you will not be buying “piggyback”.

How to know if a battery is rechargeable

It is very easy to know if a rechargeable battery:

1 – Somewhere on the cell or battery it should say “Rechargeable” or “Rechargeable”

2 – You must specify the type of stack:

  • NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride)
  • Li-ion (lithium ion)

Conclusions about rechargeable batteries

Rechargeable batteries are very useful and a  little care helps to make the most of them. Avoid exposure to heat and store them in a safe place. If a battery shows leaks or any signs of oxidation, it is best to discard it (do this using a suitable garbage collector).

Choosing well and taking care of your batteries, your audio player, your digital camera, and many other equipment, in addition to your pocket, will thank you. 

Lithium cells and batteries

Currently,  more and more manufacturers are using lithium batteries for their devices,  among which we can mention batteries for laptops, batteries and smartphones, cell phones and many other devices. We can also find lithium batteries in their button cell format in watches, motherboard BIOSes, calculators and other consumer electronics.

This is mainly due to its chemical characteristics,  which provide it with a high duration, capacity and many more charge cycles when compared to other types of batteries and cells,  as we will see later. If you want to  know more about lithium cells and batteries,  we recommend that you continue reading the rest of the article.

What is Lithium?

Chemically speaking, lithium is a silvery-white, very soft and light alkali metal that is used for a variety of purposes,  ranging from the manufacture of cells and batteries to the pharmacological industry for the manufacture of drugs for the treatment of pathologies. psychiatric,  among many other uses.

The choice of lithium by cell and battery manufacturers is basically due to its low weight,  with which much lighter batteries are achieved,  but above all, due to its electrochemical potential, a  property that allows it to store and release energy with a excellent stability and performance.  It is estimated that around 5 billion lithium cells are produced each year.

Lithium batteries

Cylindrical lithium batteries are widely used in all areas of consumer electronics due to their main characteristics such  as a very low self-discharge rate and high energy density,  which makes them suitable for all types of implementations where a lot of power, such as MP3 players, digital cameras, and other gadgets. Generally  , cylindrical lithium batteries are offered in voltages of 1.5 V, 3 V and 3.6 Volts.  This type of lithium battery is not rechargeable.

Lithium Batteries

Rectangular Lithium batteries are accumulators capable of delivering up to 9 Volts,  and that are used in devices that need a large energy consumption, such  as audio devices and high-performance devices. Like cylindrical lithium batteries, they are not rechargeable,  and are delivered in capacities of 4.5 V, 6 V and 9 Volts.

Another use of Lithium batteries is in cell phones and tablets, because as we mentioned, they  offer a much higher energy density compared to Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) and Nickel Metalhydride (NiMH) batteries  and they are also much lighter than batteries. and batteries made from these materials.

Lithium Button Batteries

This  type of button cell lithium batteries  are usually used to power small electronic devices, where a common battery, due to its size, could not fit in such a small space.

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