The Power of Zinc, in Batteries

Alessandro Volta, in the year 1800, did not just invent batteries, he unfolded an evolution

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By Pavan Kaushik 

Before the development of electric generators and electrical grids, batteries provided the main source of electricity. In the year 1800, Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist and chemist stacked up plates of Zinc and Copper, separated by brine paper disks, which produced steady current for a considerable period of time.

He experimented with various metals and found that Zinc and Silver gave the best results. Successive improvements in battery technology facilitated major electrical advances, from early scientific studies to the rise of portable computers, mobile phones, electric cars, and many other electrical devices.

Zinc-Silver battery is a  type of rechargeable battery with silver oxide , zinc oxide as electrodes and alkaline electrolyte. Zinc-Silver batteries have been mainly used in military equipment and various space ships and submarines because of their low self-discharge rate, high energy density and reliability.

Zinc-Silver batteries have the potential EMF of about 1.5 V per cell.  Although the efficiency varies according to the construction; they offer very good ampere-hour and watt-hour efficiency as compared to other types of rechargeable cells and batteries. They also offer very good capacity per weight as compared to other batteries.

Their self- discharge rate is very low (About 5% per year) and their energy density can go as high as up to 150 watt/ Kilo Gram weight of cell. They can also withstand high current discharge and can also be operated in a diverse range of temperature.

The lifetime of a Zinc-Silver battery under wet condition is about 1-2 years and under dry storage is about 5 years. The Zinc-Silver batteries make use of silver which is a high priced metal making the cost of a Zinc-Silver battery higher as compared to other batteries.

For over a 100 years, Zinc has been a good source of energy. Zinc-carbon, Zinc-chloride, Zinc-air, Zinc-alkaline, Nickel-zinc and Zinc-Silver batteries are extensively used in small electronics like remote controls to aircraft and space applications (Zinc-Silver batteries). According to IZA, the advantages that Zinc has over other agents include – Excellent combination of physical and electrochemical properties,high specific energy and power density, recharge ability, zero emission, recyclable and sustainable.

Hindustan Zinc is India’s only and world’s leading Zinc-Lead-Silver Producer.

(Pavan Kaushik heads Corporate Communications at Hindustan Zinc)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are solely of the author in personal capacity.

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