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Alkaline Battery Temperature Range-Effect and Working Status

Alkaline Battery Temperature Range-Effect and Working Status

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  An alkaline battery is a primary cell that contains metallic Zinc and Manganese dioxide. The reaction between these two chemicals provides the required energy for the function of the battery.  It is named alkaline because of the alkaline nature of Potassium hydroxide that is used as the electrolyte in this battery. The capacity of an alkaline battery is 3 to 5 times more than an acidic battery, resulting in more popularity in most of the countries in the world. So, an alkaline battery can take a greater load of current. Its higher capacity is rendered by its components that are more compact and occupy lesser space inside, leaving more space for free movements of ions.

  This type of battery is now widely used in running several electronic appliances, like CD players, MP3 players, radios, flashlights, and digital cameras. Some battery-run toys also use this battery, as it is much less toxic compared to acidic batteries. Normally, alkaline batteries have a voltage of 1.5 – 1.65 V depending on the quality of manganese dioxide used. The capacity of a battery also changes with the load exerted by an appliance. A low drain device will provide the capacity of 3000 mAh to an AA-sized alkaline battery while a high drain device may offer the capacity of only 700 mAh to the battery.

  Are alkaline batteries affected by temperature?

  Alkaline batteries are advised to store at room temperature only. Very high temperature may result in leaking of the batteries, as the outer shell can rupture due to extreme heat. Some batteries may even explode when exposed to a raging fire, due to the excessively high temperature. Hence, the longevity of these batteries can be reduced to a great extent, as seen in the case of car batteries. However, the performance of an alkaline battery depends on the instant reactions of chemicals and hydroxyl ions that it is composed of.

  Since the diffusion of ions largely influences the battery performance, too low temperature is not good for the efficient functioning of the battery. The diffusion tends to be lesser in a lower temperature, which makes the battery much slower in operation. On the contrary, the discharge of an alkaline battery is much smoother when the temperature is a bit higher, due to the faster diffusion of ions. Therefore, batteries should be kept only at the temperature recommended in the given manuals, to ensure the best performance and longer shelf-life. However, the shelf-life of many batteries can be increased to some extent by putting them into a refrigerator when not in use. So, many devices work better in warmer weather conditions, compared to the chilling cold season.

  How cold can alkaline batteries get?

  The ideal temperature for the satisfactory functioning of alkaline batteries ranges from -18° C to 55° C. However, Manganese dioxide can work well even at - 20° C though at a slower pace. The performance of these batteries is still better than most other types, even well below the freezing point. Thus, cold weather can lead to a drop in the voltage of alkaline batteries due to the higher internal resistance (RI) of a battery. So, the use of these batteries in some high-drain appliances, like digital cameras, can affect the device. But low drain devices, like MP3 players, will have very little impact of cold weather on their batteries.

  Car batteries take a much longer time to bring the engine to life during winter. The amount of current drawn by a car battery at - 18° C for 30 seconds is called Cold Cranking Amperage and it is a standard capacity of a battery in cold weather, without dropping voltage. Higher voltage drop occurs in high drain appliances due to greater internal resistance at a lower temperature. It is seen that flashlights do not throw much bright light during chilling winter, as normally seen when using a flashlight at night. If a flashlight is warmed up before use, it will regain its original brightness due to the restored strength of the battery.

  What temperature do batteries stop working?

  A battery performs only when its positive and negative terminals are connected so that electric current is generated from the spontaneous reaction between the chemicals in the battery. In extremely cold weather, the electrolyte may freeze and be unable to carry the ions from one terminal to another while charging or discharging the battery. So, an alkaline battery may stop working at the temperature of - 50° C, due to this specific quality.

  Moreover, some alkaline batteries have water-based electrolytes that can freeze easily. Since water expands on freezing, these batteries may also explode or just crack to leak out chemicals due to the effect of too low temperatures. So, these batteries should not be used in higher drain appliances during extreme winter. The longevity of alkaline batteries reduces gradually when exposed to cold weather for a long time.

  The performance of an alkaline battery is found to be 100% when a combination of Lithium and Nickel Metal hydride is used as the base component. The effect of temperature is much lesser on Lithium compared to the alkaline battery using manganese dioxide. Normally, paste manganese dioxide and carbon powder are tightly filled in a stainless steel can to act as a cathode in a battery. Zinc powder immersed in Potassium hydroxide gel acts as the negative electrode. As the zinc is in powdered form, it offers a greater surface area for chemical reactions, thereby decreasing the internal resistance of the battery. As in the case of all batteries, the positive electrode is on the raised end while the negative electrode is on the flat end of a cell.

  Many alkaline batteries are rechargeable and thus, provided with a suitable charger by manufacturers. However, the capacity of the battery gradually decreases with repeated charging till it gets too slow and needs replacement. It is better to keep away from a leaking alkaline battery, as potassium hydroxide can cause skin irritation when touched. Overall, alkaline batteries are useful almost in all weather conditions and thus, used widely for running many appliances.

 

 

 

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