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A battery is an electric device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy, consisting of a group of electric cells that are connected to act as a source of direct current. Batteries are made of connected cells encased in a container and fitted with terminals to provide a source of direct electric current at a given voltage. A battery is characterised by its chemical composition (combination of metal(s) and electrolyte used), voltage, size, terminal arrangements, capacity and rate of capability or more cells. In many contexts it is common to call a single cell used on its own a “battery”.

In order for a cell or battery to be able to deliver electrical current to an external circuit, a “potential difference” must exist between the positive and negative electrodes. The potential difference (usually measured in volts) is commonly referred to as the voltage of the cell or battery. A single lead-acid cell can develop a maximum potential difference of about 2 V under load. A completely discharged lead-acid cell has a potential difference of about 1.75 V, depending on the rate of discharge.

 The simplest method for the construction of lead-acid battery electrodes is the flat plate. It is merely a flat plate composed of pure lead. Since the capacity of a lead-acid battery is proportional to the surface area of the electrodes that is exposed to the electrolyte, various schemes are employed to increase the surface area of the electrodes per unit volume or weight. Flat plates are grooved or perforated to increase their surface area. A typical flat plate is shown below:


The most commonly used method to increase surface area is to make the active material into a paste that acts like a sponge where the electrolyte fills all the pores. The paste, or active material, is mounted into a frame or grid structure that mechanically supports it and serves as the electrical conductor carrying the current during both the charge and discharge cycle. The most commonly used plate today is the pasted plate, also known as the flat plate. This grid structure is a latticework that resembles the cross section of a honeycomb, with the paste filling all of the rectangular windows on the structure. The picture below shows a typical construction of a pasted plate grid. The flat plate construction is used as the negative electrode plate in almost all cases, and serves as the positive plate in most standby applications.

Pasted Grid plate

Positive electrodes are usually of pasted plate or tubular construction. Tubular electrodes are popular positive plates for heavy cycling applications. This construction uses a frame structure consisting of a series of vertical spines connected to a common bus. The paste is held in micro-porous, non-conductive tubes, which are placed over the individual spines. A simplified view of tubular plate construction is shown in below. Regardless of the plate type used, the capacity of any battery is increased by adding multiple plates in parallel.

Tubular Plate



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Last Updated: Monday, December 03, 2007 - 6:00 AM Eastern Time.