An electric battery is a device consisting of two or more electrochemical cellsthat convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. Each cell has a positive terminal, or cathode, and a negative terminal, or anode.


Batteries convert chemical energy directly to electrical energy. A battery consists of some number of voltaic cells. Each cell consists of two half-cells connected in series by a conductive electrolyte containing anions and cations.

Battery Types

Batteries are classified into primary and secondary forms.

a) Primary batteries irreversibly transform chemical energy to electrical energy. When the supply of reactants is exhausted, energy cannot be readily restored to the battery.

  • Zinc-Carbon Batteries
  • Alkaline Batteries

b) Secondary batteries can be recharged; that is, they can have their chemical reactions reversed by supplying electrical energy to the cell, approximately restoring their original composition.

  • Lead-Acid Batteries
  • Sealed Valve Regulated Lead-Acid Batteries
    - Gel batteries (or "gel cell") use a semi-solid electrolyte.
    - Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries absorb the electrolyte in a special fiberglass matting.

Battery cell types

Many types of electrochemical cells have been produced, with varying chemical processes and designs, including galvanic cells, electrolytic cells, fuel cells, flow cells and voltaic piles.

b) Wet cell

A wet cell battery has a liquid electrolyte. Other names are flooded cell, since the liquid covers all internal parts, or vented cell, since gases produced during operation can escape to the air. Wet cells were a precursor to dry cells and are commonly used as a learning tool for electrochemistry. They can be built with common laboratory supplies, such as beakers, for demonstrations of how electrochemical cells work. A particular type of wet cell known as a concentration cell is important in understanding corrosion.Wet cells may be primary cells (non-rechargeable) or secondary cells (rechargeable).

b) Dry cell

A dry cell uses a paste electrolyte, with only enough moisture to allow current to flow. Unlike a wet cell, a dry cell can operate in any orientation without spilling, as it contains no free liquid, making it suitable for portable equipment. By comparison, the first wet cells were typically fragile glass containers with lead rods hanging from the open top and needed careful handling to avoid spillage. Lead–acid batteries did not achieve the safety and portability of the dry cell until the development of the gel battery.

A common dry cell is the zinc–carbon battery, sometimes called the dry Leclanché cell, with a nominal voltage of 1.5 volts, the same as the alkaline battery (since both use the samezinc–manganese dioxide combination).

A standard dry cell comprises a zinc anode, usually in the form of a cylindrical pot, with acarbon cathode in the form of a central rod. The electrolyte is ammonium chloride in the form of a paste next to the zinc anode. The remaining space between the electrolyte and carbon cathode is taken up by a second paste consisting of ammonium chloride and manganese dioxide, the latter acting as a depolariser. In some designs, the ammonium chloride is replaced by zinc chloride.

Molten salt

Molten salt batteries are primary or secondary batteries that use a molten salt as electrolyte. They operate at high temperatures and must be well insulated to retain heat.


A reserve battery can be stored unassembled (unactivated and supplying no power) for a long period (perhaps years). When the battery is needed, then it is assembled (e.g., by adding electrolyte); once assembled, the battery is charged and ready to work. For example, a battery for an electronic artillery fuze might be activated by the impact of firing a gun: The acceleration breaks a capsule of electrolyte that activates the battery and powers the fuze's circuits. Reserve batteries are usually designed for a short service life (seconds or minutes) after long storage (years). A water-activated battery for oceanographic instruments or military applications becomes activated on immersion in water.

Battery cell performance

A battery's characteristics may vary over load cycle, over charge cycle, and over lifetime due to many factors including internal chemistry, current drain, and temperature.