Anode: High purity zinc powder
Cathode: Electrolytically produced manganese dioxide
Electrolyte: Concentrated potassium hydroxide solution
Steel shell: As the outer shell of the battery, it serves as a container, and the battery’s constituent materials are filled inside.
During cell discharge, the oxygen-rich manganese dioxide is reduced and the zinc becomes oxidized, while ions are being transported through conductive alkaline electrolyte. The simplified cell reaction is: Zn + 2MnO2 – ZnO + Mn2O3
The anode material for alkaline batteries is a powdered zinc metal. The manufacture of zinc powder is strictly controlled to ensure chemical purity and correct particle size, thereby obtaining a good surface area during the battery reaction process. This increased surface area provides greater particle to particle contact within the anode, thereby lowering the cell’s internal resistance, generating higher power density. With the continuous improvement of global regulatory requirements, zinc powder has now implemented environmentally friendly anode designs, which do not contain mercury, cadmium, and lead.
The cathode material of the cell is a powdered manganese dioxide (MnO2), produced synthetically through an electrolytic process. Its purity and oxygen availability are far superior to the natural material. This contributes to the cell’s increased energy density and performance. Additives are used in the major cathode components to enhance performance capability. For example, graphite is mixed with the manganese dioxide to improve conductivity. When mixed with the other ingredients, the electrolytic manganese dioxide provides a cathode of excellent conductivity to assure good cell performance over a wide range of temperatures and discharge rates.
The electrolyte consists of a concentrated aqueous solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH) to which zinc oxide is added to retard corrosion of the zinc. This inhibits the dissolution of the zinc anode and extends the shelf life. In some cell designs, a gel-type electrolyte is formed by the addition of a gelling agent.This electrolyte is alkaline (basic) in contrast to the electrolyte of regular zinc-carbon cells, which is acidic. The concentrated potassium hydroxide solution offers high ionic mobility with a low freezing point.
Although the active materials in alkaline cells are basically the same as in zinc carbon cells, the significant differences are in the electrolyte and cell construction. Its more sophisticated design, combined with the alkaline electrolyte, accounts for its superior performance.
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