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Battery Electrochemistry

All lead-acid batteries operate on the same fundamental reactions. As the battery discharges, the active materials in the electrodes (lead dioxide in the positive electrode and sponge lead in the negative electrode) react with sulfuric acid in the electrolyte to form lead sulfate and water. On recharge, the lead sulfate on both electrodes converts back to lead dioxide (positive) and sponge lead (negative), and the sulfate ions (SO42 ) are driven back into the electrolyte solution to form sulfuric acid. The reactions involved in the cell are:

At the positive electrode:

PbO2 + 3H+ + HSO4- + 2e- << Charge / Discharge >> PbSO4 + 2H2O


At the negative electrode:

Pb + HSO4- << Charge / Discharge >> PbSO4 + H+ + 2e-


Overall cell:

PbO2 + Pb + 2H2SO4 << Charge / Discharge >> 2PbSO4 + 2H2O



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Last Updated: Monday, December 03, 2007 - 5:50 AM Eastern Time.