Rechargeable (Secondary) Batteries


Related Posts:

A diagram is shown of a cross section of a nickel cadmium battery. This battery is in a cylindrical shape. An outer red layer is labeled “case.” Just inside this layer is a thin, dark grey layer which is labeled at the bottom of the cylinder as “Negative electrode collector.” A silver rod extends upward through the center of the battery, which is surrounded by alternating layers, shown as vertical repeating bands, of yellow, purple, yellow, and blue. A slightly darker grey narrow band extends across the top of these alternating bands, which is labeled “Positive electrode collector.” A thin light grey band appears at the very bottom of the cylinder, which is labeled “Metal bottom cover (negative).” A small grey and white striped rectangular structure is present at the top of the central silver cylinder, which is labeled “Safety valve.” Above this is an orange layer that curves upward over the safety valve, which is labeled “Insulation ring.” Above this is a thin light grey layer that projects upward slightly at the center, which is labeled “Metal top cover (plus).” A light grey arrow points to a rectangle to the right that illustrates the layers at the center of the battery under magnification. From the central silver rod, the layers shown repeat the alternating pattern yellow, blue, yellow, and purple three times, with a final yellow layer covering the last purple layer. The outermost purple layer is labeled “Negative electrode.” The yellow layer beneath it is labeled “Separator.” The blue layer just inside is labeled “Positive electrode.”
Figure 1. NiCd batteries use a “jelly-roll” design that significantly increases the amount of current the battery can deliver as compared to a similar-sized alkaline battery. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

Rechargeable (Secondary) Batteries (OpenStax Chemistry 2e)

Nickel-cadmium, or NiCd, batteries (Figure 1) consist of a nickel-plated cathode, cadmium-plated anode, and a potassium hydroxide electrode. The positive and negative plates, which are prevented from shorting by the separator, are rolled together and put into the case. This is a “jelly-roll” design and allows the NiCd cell to deliver much more current than a similar-sized alkaline battery. The reactions are

When properly treated, a NiCd battery can be recharged about 1000 times. Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal so NiCd batteries should never be ruptured or incinerated, and they should be disposed of in accordance with relevant toxic waste guidelines.

Lithium ion batteries (Figure 2) are among the most popular rechargeable batteries and are used in many portable electronic devices. The reactions are

The variable stoichiometry of the cell reaction leads to variation in cell voltages, but for typical conditions, x is usually no more than 0.5 and the cell voltage is approximately 3.7 V. Lithium batteries are popular because they can provide a large amount current, are lighter than comparable batteries of other types, produce a nearly constant voltage as they discharge, and only slowly lose their charge when stored.

This figure shows a model of the flow of charge in a lithium ion battery. At the left, an approximately cubic structure formed by alternating red, grey, and purple spheres is labeled below as “Positive electrode.” The purple spheres are identified by the label “lithium.” The grey spheres are identified by the label “Metal.” The red spheres are identified by the label “oxygen.” Above this structure is the label “Charge” followed by a right pointing green arrow. At the right is a figure with layers of black interconnected spheres with purple spheres located in gaps between the layers. The black layers are labeled “Graphite layers.” Below the purple and black structure is the label “Negative electrode.” Above is the label “Discharge,” which is preceded by a blue arrow which points left. At the center of the diagram between the two structures are six purple spheres which are each labeled with a plus symbol. Three curved green arrows extend from the red, purple, and grey structure to each of the three closest purple plus labeled spheres. Green curved arrows extend from the right side of the upper and lower of these three purple plus labeled spheres to the black and purple layered structure. Three blue arrows extend from the purple and black layered structure to the remaining three purple plus labeled spheres at the center of the diagram. The base of each arrow has a circle formed by a dashed curved line in the layered structure. The lowest of the three purple plus marked spheres reached by the blue arrows has a second blue arrow extending from its left side which points to a purple sphere in the purple, green, and grey structure.
Figure 2. In a lithium ion battery, charge flows as the lithium ions are transferred between the anode and cathode. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

The lead acid battery (Figure 3) is the type of secondary battery commonly used in automobiles. It is inexpensive and capable of producing the high current required by automobile starter motors. The reactions for a lead acid battery are

Each cell produces 2 V, so six cells are connected in series to produce a 12-V car battery. Lead acid batteries are heavy and contain a caustic liquid electrolyte, H2SO4(aq), but are often still the battery of choice because of their high current density. Since these batteries contain a significant amount of lead, they must always be disposed of properly.

A diagram of a lead acid battery is shown. A black outer casing, which is labeled “Protective casing” is in the form of a rectangular prism. Grey cylindrical projections extend upward from the upper surface of the battery in the back left and back right corners. At the back right corner, the projection is labeled “Positive terminal.” At the back right corner, the projection is labeled “Negative terminal.” The bottom layer of the battery diagram is a dark green color, which is labeled “Dilute H subscript 2 S O subscript 4.” A blue outer covering extends upward from this region near the top of the battery. Inside, alternating grey and white vertical “sheets” are packed together in repeating units within the battery. The battery has the sides cut away to show three of these repeating units which are separated by black vertical dividers, which are labeled as “cell dividers.” The grey layers in the repeating units are labeled “Negative electrode (lead).” The white layers are labeled “Postive electrode (lead dioxide).”
Figure 3. The lead acid battery in your automobile consists of six cells connected in series to give 12 V. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e


Flowers, P., Theopold, K., Langley, R., & Robinson, W. R. (2019, February 14). Chemistry 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:


Research Related

Research Article: An All‐Solid‐State Rechargeable Chloride Ion Battery

Date Published: January 28, 2019 Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc. Author(s): Chao Chen, Tingting Yu, Meng Yang, Xiangyu Zhao, Xiaodong Shen. Abstract: The chloride ion battery has been developed as one of the alternative battery chemistries beyond lithium ion, toward abundant material resources and high energy density. Its application, however, is limited by … Continue reading

Research Article: High Performance Solid Polymer Electrolytes for Rechargeable Batteries: A Self‐Catalyzed Strategy toward Facile Synthesis

Date Published: August 02, 2017 Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc. Author(s): Yanyan Cui, Xinmiao Liang, Jingchao Chai, Zili Cui, Qinglei Wang, Weisheng He, Xiaochen Liu, Zhihong Liu, Guanglei Cui, Jiwen Feng. Abstract: It is urgent to seek high performance solid polymer electrolytes (SPEs) via a facile chemistry and simple process. The lithium salts … Continue reading

Research Article: Pure Single‐Crystalline Na1.1V3O7.9 Nanobelts as Superior Cathode Materials for Rechargeable Sodium‐Ion Batteries

Date Published: February 17, 2015 Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc. Author(s): Shuang Yuan, Yong‐Bing Liu, Dan Xu, De‐Long Ma, Sai Wang, Xiao‐Hong Yang, Zhan‐Yi Cao, Xin‐Bo Zhang. Abstract: Pure single‐crystalline Na1.1V3O7.9 nanobelts are successfully synthesized for the first time via a facile yet effective strategy. When used as cathode materials for Na‐ion batteries, … Continue reading

Research Article: Poly(benzoquinonyl sulfide) as a High‐Energy Organic Cathode for Rechargeable Li and Na Batteries

Date Published: June 08, 2015 Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc. Author(s): Zhiping Song, Yumin Qian, Tao Zhang, Minoru Otani, Haoshen Zhou. Abstract: In concern of resource sustainability and environmental friendliness, organic electrode materials for rechargeable batteries have attracted increasing attentions in recent years. However, for many researchers, the primary impression on organic cathode … Continue reading