Modern civilization would not be able to function without batteries. Not only do our smartphones require batteries, but so do countless simpler tools such as flashlights and smoke alarms. Watches, calculators, vehicles, and life saving medical technologies need batteries. It would be a step back in time if we could no longer use them. How do batteries work, and what are some practical things that one should know about them?
1) All batteries use chemical reactions to create electricity
Since batteries have existed, they have depended on chemical reactions. The electricity that is generated in a power plant and delivered through a wall socket is not generated in this way. However, if one wants a small and portable power source, chemical reactions are the most practical way to generate power. The various chemicals that allow a battery to generate power are called electrolytes.
A battery also requires at least two electrodes, which are bands of two different kinds of metal. One of the two types of metal gives up electrons, and the other of the two types of metal receives them.
Nothing would happen if the same kind of metal were used for both electrodes. Electrons flow through the electrolyte to move from one electrode to the other. This movement of electricity can be used to power most of our technology, but the movement of electrons through the electrolyte causes it to change into different chemicals gradually.
As the electrolyte changes, it becomes more difficult for electricity to move through it, eventually causing the battery to weaken, and then to stop working entirely.
2) One can often restart a dead car battery
If your car battery dies on you, you do not always need to call a tow truck or find someone with jumper cables.
A common substance that you may be carrying around with you can sometimes be used to restart the chemical reaction and get the battery going for long enough to make it to the service station. Aspirin is sometimes enough to do it. If you open your car battery up and drop two aspirin tablets into the battery, the car may start and allow you to make it to the station. The weak acid in the aspirin tablets may interact with the much stronger acid in the car battery to create one last electric charge. Epsom salts can work as well. Neither will keep an old car battery going for long, however.
3) One can avoid having to replace a cell phone battery
As far as cell phones go, how do batteries work? While cell phone batteries are of course rechargeable, they will still become unusable over time and have to be replaced. An older cell phone battery will not last nearly as long as a newer battery. It can still be recharged, but it will not store almost as much power.
For this reason, you should turn on battery saver mode when the phone is not in use. WiFi should also be disabled when you are not using it. A phone should not be left plugged in all night. Leaving the phone plugged in after it is already fully charged will wear out the battery.