What is a Dry Cell Battery?

Rebecca Partington

The dry cell battery is one of the most commonly used types, including AA, 9-volt, and watch batteries. Dry cell batteries are different from wet cells because their electrolytes are contained in a low-moisture paste, while a wet cell has electrolytes contained in a liquid, hence the difference in names. A chemical reaction within the battery creates an electrical charge that flows from inside to an outer circuit that is connected to an electrical device.

A dry cell battery's electrolytes are contained in a low-moisture paste (represented in brown).
A dry cell battery's electrolytes are contained in a low-moisture paste (represented in brown).

What It Is Made Of

Dry cell batteries, regardless of their size, typically have the same basic components. At the center of each is a rod called a cathode, which is often made of carbon and surrounded by an electrolyte paste. Different chemicals can be used to create this paste, such as ammonium chloride and manganese dioxide, depending on the type of battery. The cathode and electrolyte paste are wrapped in paper or cardboard and sealed into a metal cylinder called an anode, which is typically made of zinc.

Dry cell batteries.
Dry cell batteries.

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How It Works

The anode in the dry cell battery has two terminals, one that is positive and one that is negative. When a load is connected to the battery's terminals, a chemical reaction occurs between the anode and the paste that produces roughly 1.5 volts of electricity. A pin or "collector" in the middle of the battery conducts this charge out of the battery to an external circuit. This circuit physically connects to the electronic device the battery is in, providing the charge necessary for the device to function.

Rechargeable batteries are often NiCd batteries.
Rechargeable batteries are often NiCd batteries.

Each set of anode, electrolyte, and cathode acts as a single cell, and multiple cells can be connected together within one dry cell battery to produce a higher overall voltage. After the load has been connected for a long time, the battery's chemicals break down and no longer produce a charge. Primary batteries should be discarded once they reach this point, while secondary batteries can be recharged through special devices. This effectively reverses the chemical reaction within each cell, allowing the battery to continue working.

Many municipal recycling programs accept batteries, though modern alkaline ones can typically be thrown away with household trash.
Many municipal recycling programs accept batteries, though modern alkaline ones can typically be thrown away with household trash.

Different Types

Alkaline batteries are more popular than their older counterparts because they corrode more slowly and thus produce a charge longer. A less commonly used type of dry cell battery uses silver for the cathode rod. Nickel/Cadmium (NiCd), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), and Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries are rechargeable, making them popular for use in power-hungry digital cameras and other portable devices.

Proper Handling and Disposal

Batteries frequently contain chemicals that are harmful if released into the environment, and should be recycled properly. Many municipal recycling programs accept batteries, though modern alkaline ones can typically be thrown away with household trash. Consumers should also consider using rechargeable batteries because they can be reused many times and can also be recycled after they no longer hold a charge.

A wet cell battery has electrolytes contained in a liquid.
A wet cell battery has electrolytes contained in a liquid.

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Discussion Comments

anon359859

Why does a dry cell stop working?

anon334611

What is the positive and negative terminal in a dry cell?

anon241479

@anon63693: The leclanche cell is a wet cell. Thus he did not invent it.

anon236694

How was this dry battery made by Sakizou Yai?

anon104091

what does a dry cell contain?

anon99298

What is actually better? Dry or Wet?

anon90591

Is a maintenance-free battery a dry cell?

anon82212

the voltage of a dry cell is 1.5 volt dc, but what about current?

anon79637

Does a dry cell battery have AC current, or DC current?

anon73635

How big can a dry cell battery get?

anon71475

what is an anode?

anon63693

the dry cell was actually invented by georges leclanche. hence, it is also known as the leclanche cell.

anon59786

What are the chemical components in the electrolyte paste in the dry battery cells?

anon39577

Is a dry cell battery charged before or after it is put into lube?

anon39078

what is the difference between a wet cell battery and a dry cell battery because they both have liquid?

anon37574

can you store a dry cell battery inside a house with or without heat eg. rural camp

anon37347

does a dry cell battery have to be charged first like a wet cell or is it done when the components are put together it creates its own charge.thanks.

anon37239

can i have the information in the form of a video please?

andy1lil

Why do torchlights use dry cells as their source of energy?

anon28959

Hello!

I want to know the chemical reactions which occur during the working of dry cell when it is connected to a circuit?

Kamal

anon22981

to anon21344: Multiple cells are commonly connected in series within a single case or battery compartment within a device to form a dry battery (or dry cell battery) of greater voltage than is provided by one cell.

anon21344

Second paragraph, last sentence should read: These components [not one or more - and it is not a cell until it is combined with the anode] are then sealed...typically made of zinc. [The anode is not made of alkaline. Some cells have an alkaline electrolyte.]

Third paragraph, first sentence: The dry cell [not the anode] has two [only two] terminals - one connected to the anode, the "-" terminal and one connected to the cathode, the "+" terminal.

ewjarrell

What happens when a dry cell battery goes dead?

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