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Alkaline Batteries - Essentials

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Alkaline Batteries - Essentials

Alkaline batteries form 90% of the battery market in the USA and, with no doubt are the most commonly used batteries that we use on various devices such as remotes, cameras, MP3 players, toys, lamps, radios, etc. Let’s take a closer look at what is inside them and also to consider their various specifications and usage.

To start with, the simple chemistry that stands behind those batteries is that the negative electrode is zinc and the positive electrolyte is manganese dioxide (MnO2). Together, they form a reaction and are being consumed during discharge. The alkaline electrolyte of potassium hydroxide stays aside from the process. (See picture bellow) With other words, the alkaline batteries provide more power than the Zinc and Zinc Chloride ones and less power than the lithium ones. At the same time, they are quite inexpensive and easy to afford. Some other interesting facts about the alkaline batteries are that they are available in all standard sizes AA, AAA, 9V, C, D. They lose their voltage gradually, over time, instead of suddenly dropping it off, as we are used seeing in the most rechargeable battery types. Also, they no longer contain mercury, which makes them easy to dispose. Although, there are special chargers that can charge the alkaline a few times, they are considered as non-rechargeable batteries and if used infrequently or not at all, alkaline will sometimes leak, causing damage to the device.

            Alkaline Cell

Some interesting and useful facts:

•A 9V alkaline will have six 1.5V alkaline cells inside, while a 9V lithium will have three 3V lithium cells inside.

•The 3V and 3.6V chemistries are not found in the common sizes of AA, AAA, C, or D to avoid accidentally putting one of these higher voltage batteries in a device designed for lower voltages.

• Capacity of an alkaline battery is greater than an equal size or zinc-chloride cell because the manganese dioxide is purer and denser, and space taken up by internal components such as electrodes is less. An alkaline cell can provide between three to five times capacity.

• The capacity of an alkaline battery is strongly dependent on the load. An AA-sized alkaline battery might have an effective capacity of 3000 mAh at low drain, but at a load of 1 ampere, which is common for digital cameras, the capacity could be as little as 700 mAh.

•The voltage of the battery declines steadily during use, so the total usable capacity depends on the cut-off voltage of the application. On a heavy load, capacity is reduced under a continuous discharge compared to intermittent discharge. However, the reduction is less than the zinc-chloride cells.


As we mentioned above, if not stored correctly, the alkaline batteries might start leaking a caustic agent called potassium hydroxide. The reason is that with time, the battery discharges and some hydrogen gas is generated inside, that increases the pressure that’s inside. Eventually, this excess starts to rupture the insulating seal or the outer metal canister of the battery. In order to prevent this, from happening you can simply use your alkaline battery more often and avoid leaving it out in the sun for too long. If this happens, however, we wouldn’t recommend touching the agent, as it might cause some respiratory, skin and/or eye irritation.

                                     Alkaline Batteries

Dispose and Recycle:

Recently the need for safe disposal and battery recycling is in high need, mostly due to the pollution worldwide. At this point, the State of California is the only state, where throwing away any kind of batteries is illegal. However, just because it isn’t illegal in your state, batteries should be disposed of in a responsible manner. Most of the town halls organize events related with collection of hazardous waste, which everyone would be welcome to take part in. Nevertheless, single use battery disposal can be cost-effective, too. Every single battery contains small amounts of reusable materials such as zinc, metal and manganese and thanks to nowadays technology, those fragments are being separated mechanically in a cost-effective way.

If you are already on your way to recycle your old alkaline batteries, don’t forget to check the variety of AA batteries we offer on our webstore. So why don’t you get some new ones right HERE?


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