What different denominations lose


A battery is an electrochemical energy store and converter. During the discharge, stored chemical energy is converted into electrical energy by the electrochemical redox reaction. The converted energy can be used by an electrical consumer that is independent of the power grid.

In non-rechargeable Primarybatteries, the reactions to discharge are not or only partially reversible. In contrast, they are rechargeable SecondaryBatteries (accumulators) the discharge reactions are largely reversible, so that a multiple conversion of chemical into electrical energy and back is possible.

The term "battery" refers to the interconnection of several galvanic cells. Colloquially, the term is also used for individual galvanic cells.

Due to the many areas of application with very different requirements in terms of voltage, power and capacity, there are now almost unmanageable types of batteries.


The electrode materials determine the nominal voltage of the cell. Higher voltages are obtained by connecting several cells in series.

The capacity of a battery is given as the theoretically available charge amount in ampere-hours (unit: Ah). Mainly for marketing reasons, the capacity of non-rechargeable batteries is not specified and can only be found in the manufacturer's data sheets. The battery capacity can be measured according to a specified standard during a discharge process.

Circuit symbols
for battery

The available capacity depends on the Discharge current and the End-of-discharge voltage the battery. Various discharge methods are common, including: constant current discharge, constant resistance discharge, or constant power discharge. Depending on the discharge method, the battery has a different capacity. The discharge current and end-of-discharge voltage must therefore be specified in a meaningful specification of the nominal capacity.

In general, the capacity that can be drawn from a battery decreases as the discharge current increases. The reasons for this are both the increasing losses in the battery's internal resistance and the fact that the chemical processes in the battery run at a limited speed. The reduction in the available capacity with increasing discharge current is heavily dependent on the type of battery. The amount of charge that can be drawn off in practical use depends on the type of battery, the level of the discharge current, the residual voltage at the end of the discharge, the battery age and the temperature (see also energy density).

The battery capacity or the maximum current at a given voltage can be increased by using larger cells or by connecting cells or batteries in parallel.

Practically all batteries are subject to a certain amount of self-discharge during storage, depending on the type of battery and the storage temperature: the lower the temperature, the less self-discharge takes place. Most batteries lose their charge relatively quickly. Zinc-air batteries for hearing aids, on the other hand, are the most durable because they only deliver electricity when air is supplied; the openings on the battery are sealed with a foil sticker during storage.

In Germany, the Battery Ordinance regulates the return and disposal of batteries. Among other things, it stipulates that no batteries or cells with a mercury content of more than 0.0005 percent by weight may be placed on the market in Germany. The mercury content of button cells must not exceed 2.0 percent by weight. Nowadays, even alkaline-manganese batteries no longer contain mercury, while in the first series it was still necessary for amalgamating the electrode material. See also battery recycling.

Not every type of battery is available in every country. That is why there are flat battery adapters in particular, which take three AA cells of 1.5 V each. The adapter can then be used wherever a flat battery fits. Adapters are also useful because to date there are no rechargeable flat batteries.


The first functioning galvanic element and thus the first battery was presented by Alessandro Volta in the form of the "Voltaic Column" in 1800. Regularly recurring speculations about batteries already in use in antiquity are mainly based on a single clay vessel that was discovered in 1936 by the Austrian archaeologist Wilhelm König southeast of Baghdad and in which he believed he recognized a galvanic element. For various reasons, the function of this vessel, known as the “Baghdad battery”, is doubtful.

Type variations

Commercially available batteries and cells are available in numerous variants, both according to the underlying chemical redox system and according to the electrical values ​​or the geometric or structural shape. Several of the terms listed below can be used to describe a battery type, e.g. B. "Alkaline manganese battery - LR 6 / AM-3 - AA - Mignon". Often, however, only one particular characteristic is required, e.g. B. the size "AA" for a specially designed flashlight. One speaks of a dry battery when the electrolyte is not in liquid form, for example due to thickening. As a result, the battery can be used in any spatial orientation, i.e. in particular for mobile applications.

Areas of application

There are the following terms and assignments according to the area of ​​application:

  • Device batteries are used to power small, mostly portable devices, for example in flashlights. Particularly small versions are called button cells.
  • Starter batteries are used in particular for motor vehicles.
  • Electric vehicles have traction batteries.
  • Stationary batteries are used in stationary applications such as uninterruptible power supplies.

Primary cells

Primary cells are galvanic cells that cannot be recharged after discharging. The different types are named according to the materials used:

  • Alkaline manganese battery; 1.5 volts nominal voltage per cell
  • Zinc-carbon battery; 1.5 volts per cell
  • Nickel oxyhydroxide battery; 1.5 volts per cell
  • Lithium batteries; 2.9 to 3.6 V depending on the cathode material
  • Lithium iron sulfide battery; 1.5 volts per cell
  • Zinc-air battery; 1.5 volts per cell
  • Zinc chloride battery; 1.5 volts per cell
  • Mercury Oxide-Zinc Battery; 1.35 volts per cell
  • Silver oxide-zinc battery; 1.55 volts per cell
  • Sodium-Nickel-Chloride Battery

Secondary cells

Secondary cells, also called Accumulators are galvanic cells that can be recharged after discharging. More information about secondary cells is described in the main article, accumulator. Common types are also named after the materials used:

  • Lead accumulator (lead dioxide / lead); 2 volts nominal voltage per cell. The electrolyte (sulfuric acid H.2SO4) can be in liquid form, bound in fleece or thickened as a gel (lead-gel battery). The lead accumulator is widely used as a car battery.
  • Nickel-cadmium battery; 1.2 volts per cell
  • Nickel-metal hydride battery; 1.2 volts per cell
  • Lithium-ion battery; 3.7 volts per cell
  • Lithium polymer battery; mostly 3.7 volts per cell
  • Alkaline-Manganese-Battery (English: Rechargeable Alkaline Manganese, short: RAM); 1.5 volts per cell
  • Silver-zinc battery; 1.5 volts per cell
  • Nickel-hydrogen battery; 1.50 V per cell
  • Zinc-bromine battery; 1.76 V per cell
  • Sodium Nickel Chloride Battery (known as a Zebra Battery)
  • Nickel-iron battery; 1.2-1.9V nominal voltage / cell


As Device batteries Electric batteries are often referred to, which are very common in everyday life for the energy supply of small electrical devices such as clocks, radios, toys, flashlights and the like, and also in permanently installed devices such as fire alarms.

Device batteries have to be compact, usable in any position, light and yet mechanically robust. They must neither leak nor outgas during normal storage and use in the device. They are commercially available in a variety of designs based on zinc-carbon or alkaline-manganese batteries. Their designation follows the performance classes specified by the IEC and the sizes standardized by the ANSI:

(Alkali manganese)
ANSI description size nominal voltage Capacity (mAh)
Capacity (mAh)
Alkali manganese
LR 61 AAAA Mini Ø 8.3 mm, H 42.5 mm 1.5V 300 500...600
R03 / UM-4 LR 03 / AM-4 AAA Micro Ø 10.3 mm, H 45 mm 1.5V 370...540 900...1250
R6 / UM-3 LR 6 / AM-3 AA Mignon Ø 14.3 mm, H 51 mm 1.5V 700...1.100 2.200...2.850
SUB-C Ø 23 mm, H 43 mm 1.5V 1.700...2.600
R14 / UM-2 LR 14 / AM-2 C. infant Ø 27 mm, H 50 mm 1.5V 1.800...3.800 ≈ 8.000
R20 / UM-1 LR 20 / AM-1 D. Mono Ø 35 mm, H 62 mm 1.5V 4.000...8.000 ≈ 20.000
R 1 / UM-5 LR 1 / AM-5 N lady Ø 12 mm, H 30 mm 1.5V ≈ 400 ≈ 800
2R10 2LR10 DuplexStick battery Ø 21.8 mm, H 74.6 mm 3.0 V (2 cells of 1.5 V each) 1.000...1.500
3R12 / 1203 3LR12 Flat battery L 67 mm, W 62 mm, H 22 mm 4.5 V (3 cells of 1.5 V each) ≈ 2.700 ≈ 5.900
4LR61 J Flat pack L 49 mm, W 36 mm, H 8.5 mm 6 V (4 cells of 1.5 V each) 500...600
6F226LR61 / AM-61604D E block
or 9 V block
L 48.5 W 26.2 mm, H 17 mm9.0 V (6 cells of 1.5 V each) 6F22 = 6x flat cell 22 6LR61 = 6x round cell LR61 190...330 500...600

In addition to these “standard types”, there is also a large variety of shapes for product-specific batteries, for example for cameras and button cells.

See also


  • Lucien F. Trueb, Paul Rüetschi: Batteries and accumulators - mobile energy sources for today and tomorrow. Springer, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-540-62997-1
  • David Linden, Thomas B. Reddy (Eds.): Handbook of Batteries. 3. Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York 2002, ISBN 0-07-135978-8 (English)
  • Clive D.S. Tuck (Ed.): Modern Battery Technology. Ellis Horwood, New York 1991, ISBN 0-13-590266-5 (English)
  • DIN 40 729 accumulators - Galvanic secondary elements - Basic terms
  • Andreas Jossen, Wolfgang Weydanz: Use modern accumulators correctly. Printyourbook, 2006, ISBN 978-3-939359-11-1

Category: Battery