How A Car Battery Works
Take a look around us now – what items are functional without electricity? Be it the light bulbs at your house or the engine in all vehicles transporting us, they are manifestations of electricity. Although some gadgets get the electrical energy supply directly from the sockets or power plants, some devices obtain their share of electrical energy supply from cells with energy stored inside them.
Cells typically consist of many different types of chemical substances inside them. The various chemical substances act as reactants which go through a chemical reaction which is kicked off by a trigger and produce the energy needed to keep the linked device functioning. During the chemical reaction, heat and electrical energy are produced, preserving the law of conservation of energy. This is generally how a cell operates to generate the energy required of it to keep devices functioning, such as a smartphone or watch. After knowing how cells operate, you should be better able to understand how car cells are able to keep cars operating as their operations are the same.
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How does a car cell operate?
As mentioned above, almost all car cells are constructed similarly to other forms of cells. However, the biggest difference is that a car cell must be able to provide the horsepower required by the entire car. This is the reason why most car cells depend on a lead-acid combination as the main components in the cell to power up the huge machine. Car cells have to perform three main functions, which is to boot up the car engine, ensure all light components are powered, and ignite the fuel for the car’s usage.
Hence, car cells are typically classified under the “SLI” category, which stands for starting, lighting, and ignition. The cells classified under this category are capable of offering energy in bursts when needed by the myriad of car components within the engine. Upon booting by the car cell, all other energy required within the car is generated by an alternator. Listed below is a detailed explanation of how a car cell operates:
- A car cell has six cells. An estimated total amount of 12V power is produced by these six cells, with each cell generating 2V. A car cell contains two lead rods, with its oxide participating in the chemical reactions.
- Sulfuric acid is one of the reactants within the car cell. Inside the cell, parts of the lead and lead oxide rods are immersed in this acid.
- Upon kickstarting the reaction, the acid will react with lead oxide and produce lead sulfate and ions as the by-product of the reaction. The ions generated will undergo another reaction with the lead rod which will contribute to a higher concentration of lead sulfate and hydrogen molecules overtime.
- Both chemical reactions produce electrons. As electrons are negatively charged, they will revolve around the plates to produce energy.
- The energy produced will then be channeled out of the plates through the terminal tips linked, which is situated at the external side of the cell case. This energy is then distributed to the components that require this energy for function.
The chemical reactions are unstable and can be reversed. Hence, this reversible property ensures these cells are able to generate energy sustainably. After a period of time, these chemicals within the cell will start to wear out and that is when this car cell should be replaced with a new one.
What are the uses of the electrical energy produced?
Boot up the car engine
Booting up the car engine is the main function of a car battery. Each cell has its own specifications and they are certain with respect to Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) or Ampere Hour (AH). Both measurements have different meanings – the AH value is mainly measuring the energy delivery within a period of time and the CCA value is mainly measuring the cell’s capability of providing energy in colder environments. In addition, CCA is relative to the size of the engine. These ratings help to determine the minimum amount of power delivered to the device. Hence, getting any kind of cell for a car nonchalantly is impossible as a cell’s CCA value has to reach the cell’s capacity minimally to operate.
If you choose a cell that does not have enough capacity, it will result in a bigger displacement gap. This means that during bad weather, your car will not be able to perform as well. Hence, a cell which is better able to conquer extreme climatic situations has a better CCA score.
2. Secondary non-essential supply
There are occasional times when some components stop functioning properly within the car. This is due to insufficient electricity supplied to the component, causing its lackluster performance and other potential adverse secondary effects.
Possible reasons why components are not functioning properly includes batteries becoming old or auxiliary items added to the car engine. These dispensable extras such as car chargers can cause avoidable strain on the car cell, which prevents smooth delivery of energy to other more fundamental components. A cell that is not able to maintain the delivery of electricity to both the engine and the other car components will display properties of an old battery. This acts as a good indication for you to arrange for a change of the battery to ensure your car is able to perform optimally.
3. System voltage stabilizer
Another crucial function of a car cell is its ability to stabilize the charging system. It essentially prevents huge electricity spikes by taking the brunt to avert any electrical damage on the related parts of the charging system.
4. Active replacement of power
Upon successful booting of the car engine, it will pass on the baton to the alternator to power the other components within the car. This requires an active change of energy, letting the car engine run without getting cut off from an electricity supply.
A car cell is analogous to our heart in the human body – hence it is exceptionally important as it ensures the other car engine and other components are able to perform properly. Through this article, we hope you are better able to understand how a car battery works, and more importantly, how to take care and maintain it.