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Homework Help: How do batteries work? (DON'T MAKE IT SIMPLE)

  1. Jan 5, 2013 #1
    First off, this isn't really a homework question, but I'd rather post it here and look like somebody trying to learn rather than being mocked at secretly in the engineering section.

    So my question is, how do batteries work, SPECIFICALLY? Down to the ditty-bit details. Every source I try to pop out on the internet is either way too simplified(for elementary school projects) or doesn't explain certain aspects such as why the redox reaction occurs only when the load is complete(otherwise by this logic the electrodes would be gradually converted into the product material until it is no longer usable the day it is manufactured)

    Here's my attempt at understanding exactly what's going on in a battery(in a circuit, of course).

    A battery is composed of the non conductive shell, and layers of ionic compounds/elements/acids within. The outer layers, the conductors, are of course used to be a good current path because they are good conductors, ie. gold and aluminum. The inner layer is composed of elements/compounds/ ions that are capable of being reactants(separately) with the electrolyte, which is in the smack dab center connecting the two electrodes. There is also a separator in the electrolyte to prevent a short circuit.(I'm not sure WHY it would short circuit if there wasn't one; to my knowledge short circuit is when you connect one end of the battery to the other end externally to move electrons too fast which heats the conductor and depletes the battery quickly).

    From here on, an oxidation reaction occurs when a load is connected between the electrodes and electrolyte(separately) for a reason unknown to me. From here on I have no idea what's happening. To my knowledge, the cathode and anode should just attract each other and deplete each other but there's probably something I'm missing out on.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2013 #2


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