Batteries became an indispensable part of our daily lives during the 20th Century. But the pace of change has dramatically increased in the 21st Century with the development of new battery types. The resulting battery revolution that is underway is enabling the beginning of a seismic shift in the way we power our transportation systems and heavy equipment, as well as how we power our cities.
The key to this revolution has been the development of affordable batteries with much greater energy density. This new generation of batteries threatens to end the lengthy reign of the lead-acid battery.
But consumers could be forgiven for being confused about the many different battery types vying for market share in this exciting new future. So let’s break down the basics of battery types and their applications.
Batteries are broadly categorized as either primary or secondary. A primary battery is a disposable battery. We are all familiar with those types of batteries. The most common type of primary battery is the alkaline battery, so named because its electrolyte is alkaline (potassium hydroxide).
The 20-pack of Duracell batteries you buy at the hardware store for $15 are alkaline batteries. These batteries come in different sizes and with different voltage levels, the most common of which are designated AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt.
Primary batteries are cheap, and are used in flashlights, TV remotes, toys, and consumer electronics.