How Does Solar Energy Came About And The Science Behind 2021: Recharge Batteries With Solar Energy And Never Be Without Power Again!


Batteries are used in many everyday appliances such as laptops, phones, cameras, flashlights and smoke detectors. People have grown to rely on a battery’s ability to provide a steady source of energy, yet most people do not understand the underlying mechanisms that enable batteries to function.

The battery is a tool that can harness chemical energy and convert it to electrical energy. This electrical energy can then be used as mechanical energy to perform work by any electronic device. The conversions of these energies power the light in a flashlight, but its origins stem from the chemicals utilized in a battery.

History

In 1786, an Italian scientist named Count Luigi Galvani noticed something peculiar when experimenting with amphibian muscles. When he placed two different types of metals together onto a frog’s leg, he noticed that the frog muscle twitched every time.

Then another Italian scientist, Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta, realized that Galvani’s twitch was induced because of chemical energy. He developed the first primitive batteries in 1800 made of zinc, copper and sulfuric acid. Since 1800, physicists have perfected batteries to the high quality we have today.

The Physics

Electricity flows in a current that follows the path of strong conductor, which is usually a metal wire. A battery serves to complete this circuit of electrical flow, but also provides a source of electrical energy for the circuit. A battery has three parts: the cathode, the anode and the electrolyte.

Due to chemical reactions within the battery, electrons (negatively charged particles) build up in the anode so that the anode is negatively charged and the cathode is positively charged. The electrolyte, located between the cathode and anode, serves to enable the transduction of electrons (energy) from the anode to the cathode, but the electrolyte can also help stop the flow of electrons if the circuit is open.

This is why, with only a flip of the switch, you can turn battery-operated appliances on and off; you are essentially opening and closing the circuit by regulating electron flow.

The Chemistry

The battery builds up electrons at the anode by harnessing energy created from chemical reactions. These reactions are termed oxidation-reduction reactions, or redox reactions. These reactions are based on the chemical processes that result in the transfer of electrons.

Certain metals, like zinc and manganese, exist in an equilibrium in which some of the metal molecules are regular molecules while other metal molecules become charged. So zinc may be Zn, but zinc may lose two electrons to its surroundings so that the zinc molecule becomes a positively charged ion.

Every metal has its own unique properties, and some metals lose this pair of electrons more readily than other metals. Batteries take advantage of a chemical’s likelihood of losing electrons. In a standard AA battery, zinc will function as the electron donor (the anode) and a central graphite rod will be the electron acceptor (the cathode).

The zinc more readily turns into positively charged ions and releases electrons faster than the carbon-based graphite molecules. Ammonium chloride is used as the electrolyte, which is also referred to as the salt-bridge.

Batteries can be “wet”, using mostly liquid-based chemicals, or “dry”, using minimal amounts of liquid to achieve energy production and transference.

Batteries used in portable devices (AA batteries, AAA batteries, etc.) are dry because the orientation of dry batteries does not affect performance. Wet batteries must never be upturned.

Batteries are made with different voltages, chemicals, and casings, but the overall physical mechanisms and chemical reactions are conserved in all designs.

Byline

This article was composed by Karl Stockton for the team at chemicalwire.com.

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