Alkaline battery: Advantages and disadvantages

Alkaline battery: Advantages and disadvantages

An alkaline battery is a type of battery, particularly a dry cell primary battery that works through the chemical reaction between zinc and magnesium oxide, and uses an alkaline electrolyte based on potassium hydroxide to generate electric current.

Currently, alkaline batteries are the most popular type of disposable batteries in the market. They are used in small electronic devices such as clocks and remote controls, as well as portable radio and battery-powered toys. Nonetheless, while an alkaline battery is a primary battery originally intended for disposal after a single use, modern battery technologies have allowed the development of rechargeable variants.

Pros: Benefits and advantages of alkaline battery

1. Higher Energy Density

One of the notable advantages of an alkaline battery is its higher energy density when compared to most types of primary or disposable batteries such as Leclanché cell and zinc-carbon batteries, and some rechargeable batteries such as nickel cadmium or nickel metal hydride batteries.

2. Longer Lifespan

When compared to chloride-type batteries such as lithium thionyl chloride or Li-SOCl2 batteries, alkaline batteries have longer lifespan while unused at they can last up to seven years while non-operational and losing about 5 percent of charge per year. They also remain usable even under low ambient temperatures. Leakage rate is also lower than Leclanché cell batteries.

3. Safer and Fewer Risks

Relative safety is another advantage of an alkaline battery. Compared to acid-based or lead-based batteries, a modern alkaline battery has lesser health and environmental impacts because it is recyclable and does not require special disposal methods due to the absence of mercury and other heavy metals.

Cons: Limitations and disadvantages of alkaline battery

1. Bulkier Form Factor

A larger form factor in consideration of energy density is a considerable disadvantage of an alkaline battery, especially when compared to a lithium-ion battery. Such limits applications in consumer electronic devices such as portable computers and smartphones in which minimal dimensions are critical selling points.

2. High Internal Resistance

High internal resistance results in the buildup of heat and a drop in voltage. Note that resistance determines the runtime of a battery. A high internal resistance reduces the power output of a battery. This is another disadvantage of an alkaline battery.

3. Leakages and Damages

All batteries leak when mishandled. In the case of alkaline batteries, leakage results from recharging disposable variants, mixing different battery types within the same device, self-discharge and leaving them placed inside an unused device. Note that alkaline batteries can leak or explode due to internal pressure caused by gas buildup from self-discharge. Leaked chemicals are corrosive and thus, can damage a device and cause minor irritations to the skin.