What Chemicals Are in Batteries?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 31, 2020 4:43:50 PM ET

A modern disposable battery commonly contains zinc, manganese dioxide and an alkaline solution, while a modern rechargeable battery is primarily made up of lithium-carbon, cobalt dioxide and an organic solution with dissolved lithium salts. The chemicals that are typically used in batteries are heavy metallic elements, which are toxic even in minute quantities.

A battery is a device that carries a certain amount of chemical energy that can be transformed into electrical energy. It can be used to power everyday items, such as computers, cameras, tools, flashlights, clocks, toys and cell phones. Batteries make it more convenient for portable electronic devices to be carried around.

A battery is composed of a positive terminal called a cathode, a negative terminal known as an anode and an electrolyte, which acts as an insulating and conducting material. A non-rechargeable battery uses zinc as anode and manganese dioxide as cathode. These two electrodes are submerged in an alkaline solution that acts as the electrolyte and allows electricity to flow from the anode to the cathode when the battery is connected to an electronic device. Disposable batteries generate electrical power until all the reactants are consumed. A rechargeable battery uses lithium-carbon as anode and cobalt dioxide as cathode. The electrolyte is an organic solution with dissolved lithium salts. In a rechargeable battery can be used repeatedly since the electro-chemical reactions are reversible.