Batteries and alternative sources of energy.

I would like to talk about batteries and alternative sources of energy. Why would you or anyone including me talk about batteries? I for one will talk and discuss batteries because I use them every day. In my smartphone, laptop multimeter, watch and many other appliances and equipment.

What is a battery

A battery is an electrical device that converts chemical energy to electricity. At this point,, I would like to state that batteries can be grouped into two many groups. These are:

  • Primary
  • Secondary.

Primary cell batteries

These are batteries that are made in such a way that once you use them, they can’t be recharged. In short primary batteries are disposable

Secondary cell batteries

As you can guess, these batteries are made in such a way that once they lose the charge, they can be recharged.

Alternative and renewable energy sources.

I would like to introduce you to alternative and renewable sources of energy. Therefore, it is better to be clear about what is alternative and renewable energy.

Alternative energy.

An alternative source of energy is any source of energy that can replace the traditional sources of energy. Like gas, coal and oil that can harm and pollute the ozone. traditional sources of energy tend to increase the atmospheric carbon when banned as fuel.

Renewable energy.

A renewable source of energy is a source that is automatically replenished or one that doesn’t get depleted as it is being used. Renewable sources of energy can be said to be infinity.

Now that I have talked about batteries and alternative sources of energy, allow me to talk more one these and give practical examples where you can apply them.

Primary cells

As said earlier, this type of cell can not be recharged. This is because the chemical conversion of the batteries to electricity can not be reversed. Examples of primary cells are:

  • Leclanche cell-These cells are used in Torches, transistor radio, and bells.
  • Mercury cell-These cell is being used in Hearing aids, medical electronics, cameras, and guided missiles.

Secondary cells

These battery cells are rechargeable. This is possible because the conversion of chemical energy to electric energy is reversible and the cell can be used many times. Examples of secondary cells are:

  • Lead-acid cell
  • Nickel-cadmium cell and Nickel-metal cell.

Application.

Secondary cells can be used in;

  • Car batteries
  • Telephone circuits
  • Forklift
  • Delivery van.

Advantages of nickel-cadmium and nickel metal.

  1. They are robust in construction
  2. Not self-discharging
  3. Able to withstand heavy charging and discharging currents without damage.
  4. Longer life span
  5. Very light in weight
  6. It can be left in any state of charge without being discharged or damaged.

Disadvantages of nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal cells over a lead-acid cell.

  1. They are relatively more expensive
  2. Requires more cell for the same e.m.f.
  3. Higher internal resistance.
  4. Must be kept sealed.
  5. Has lower efficiency

Application of cadmium and nickel metal cell.

  1. Portable military radios.
  2. Lighting in a railway carriage.
  3. Traction and marine work.
  4. Starting a diesel and petrol engine.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Safe disposal of batteries.

All types of batteries are either primary cell or secondary cell, contain some hazardous material hence a need to dispose of them off in a safe manner. This is done so that the environment, people and wildlife are protected.

Below is a table of batteries and heir common uses and their hazardous components.

TYPE OF BATTERYCOMMON USES HAZARDOUS COMPONENT
Lead-acid batteriesElectrical energy supply for vehicles including cars, trucks, boats, tractors and motors cycles. Small sealed lead-acid batteries are used for emergency lighting and uninterrupted power supplies.Sulphuric acid and lead
Zink carbonTorches, clocks, shavers, radios, and smoke alarm.Zinc
Zinc chlorideTorches, clocks, shavers, radio, toys, and smoke alarm.Zinc
Alkaline manganesePersonal stereos and radios.Manganese
Mercury oxideHearing aids, pacemakers, and camerasMercury
Zinc-airHearing aids pagers and camerasZinc
Silver oxideCalculators, watches, and camerasSilver
LithiumComputers, watches, and camerasLithium(explosive and flammable)
Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)Mobile phones, cordless power tools, laptops computers shavers, motorized toys, and personal stereos.Cadmium
Nickel- metal hydride(NiMH)An alternative to NiCd batteries but longer life.Nickel
Lithium-ion(Li-ion)Alternative to NiCd and NiMH batteries, but with greater energy storage.Lithium

List of renewable sources of energy

  1. Solar energy
  2. Wind power
  3. Hydroelectricity
  4. Tidal power
  5. Geothermal.

Solar energy.

Solar is one of the most resourceful sources of energy for now and the future. For this reason, scientists, engineers, and researchers are taking a leading role, to develop more practical ways of making solar energy readily available.

Solar energy can be captured by solar panels to produce electricity. Electricity produced by the sun can be used to power solar street lights, solar LED bulbs. Off-grid solar power solutions that are used to power homes and factories that are far from the national electric grid.

With a lot of people and organization leaning towards a clean and green environment. Solar energy is one of the renewable sources of energy that is readily available to you and me.solar energy can be used to run cars , power plants and space ships.

Geothermal energy.

This is the energy that is produced by the internal heat of the earth. Geothermal energy has a lot of applications in real life. The main notable uses of geothermal energy are the production of electricity and heating and cooling homes.

More countries in the world have started to generate electricity using geothermal energy. Countries like the USA and the Philippines, are the world’s largest producers of geothermal electricity. In homes, heat pumps are used to heat buildings during winter times. In summer the same heat pumps are used to cool buildings.

Tidal power.

This is the power that is produced using natural motion of the tides to fill reservoirs that eventually discharge through electricity-producing turbines.

Wind power.

The wind is another source of energy that can be employed to produce electric energy without producing harmful by-products. The only limitation of a wind power plant is that is highly dependant on weather and location. Some areas have favourable conditions to set up wind power plants while others don’t.

Hydroelectricity.

Hydroelectricity is the most common source of renewable energy. Though it has a high initial cost for setting up but once operational, it has relatively low maintenance.

Common types of batteries.

AA and AAA batteries commonly used in remote controls and small electronics devices

The most common batteries are:

Lead-Acid batteries: This by far is the most common and widely used battery. It is used in cars, stand by generators and solar systems.

Lithium-Ion batteries: It is used in computers, watches, and cameras

Nickel-Metal hydride batteries. It is used in mobile phones, cordless power tools, laptop computers, and shavers.

What’s the difference between a car battery and a solar battery?

I have been asked by friends and clients. Is it okay for me to use my car battery for a solar system? Most people think that as long as a battery is a 12v dc and they have a 12v inverter then they are compatible.

But here is the difference between a car battery and a solar battery. Car batteries are made to basically to provide large currents for a short time. While solar batteries are made to charge and discharge deeply for a long time before they can no longer hold an electric charge. Therefore, solar batteries are deep cycle while car batteries are not.

What is a deep cycle? This means that a battery can be deeply discharged and then be charged, many times before it will no longer hold a charge.

Are batteries AC or DC?

Batteries are mostly DC (direct current). They mainly get their current from the chemical reaction that happens inside them. Then why do you charge either your phone or laptop with AC(alternating current) It is very easy to change or transform AC generated power. All in all the chargers for either your phone or laptop has an inbuilt transformer and rectifier that changes the current from AC to DC.

What are the most common types of batteries?

Lead-Acid batteries: This by far is the most common and widely used battery. It is used in cars, stand by generators and solar systems.
Lithium-Ion batteries: It is used in computers, watches, and cameras Nickel-Metal hydride batteries. It is used in mobile phones, cordless power tools, laptop computers, and shavers.