What and how does a car battery works?
Life is incomplete without the energy around us. Be it the flick of a switch or hundreds of horsepower boosting our car, energy surrounds us with its omnipresent nature. While some appliances derive a direct power supply from the outlets, some appliances derive the power they need from the batteries installed inside them.
Batteries usually comprise of various chemical components in their shells. These chemical components undergo a chemical reaction when triggered and generate the power required to operate the devices. The Cells release heat and electricity as a part of the conversion process that happens during a reaction. This is how a battery generally powers the appliances whether it’s a wall clock or a smartphone. Similar logic is applied to power the cars as well.
How do the car batteries work?
As stated before, most car batteries are built like any other appliance’s battery. However, car batteries need to power-up the power-hungry components. This is why they often rely on a lead-acid mix to get things chugging for the run. Car batteries deliver three main duties, namely Starting the car engine, lighting up the accessories, and ignition of the fuel for consumption.
This is why car batteries are often recognized under the category of “SLI” (Starting, Lighting & Ignition) cells. Such types of batteries have the nature of delivering the energy by burst energy provisions whenever required by the various components inside the car. An alternator takes up the powering duties inside the car once the engine has been kicked off by the car battery. Here’s a step by step walkthrough of how a car battery works:
- A car battery comprises of six cells in its shells. An approximate of 12V power is generated by these six cells generating 2 volts per each cell for the car battery to deliver its power. The cell composition of a car battery constitutes 2 rods made up of lead and its oxide that help serve the cause.
- Sulphuric acid serves as the reactive component of a car battery. the cell structure is designed in such a way that the lead and lead oxide rods are dipped inside this acid.
- When triggered, the acid reacts with the lead oxide rod and generates lead sulfate and ions as a by-product of the chemical reaction. The ions produced as a part of this chemical reaction react with the lead plate generating more lead sulfate and hydrogens in the process.
- Both of these chemical reactions lead to the evolution of electrons. These negatively charged particles then loop around the rods to generate power.
- The generated power then flows out of the rods through the terminal endpoints connected to the rods on the exterior of the battery shell case. This energy is then utilized to perform various actions that fall under SLI.
The entire chemical reaction is reversible in nature. This allows the battery cells to keep on looping the process as a part of the energy generation and consumption process. After a certain amount of time, the battery chemicals wear out suggesting to go in for a regular car battery replacement as a part of the car maintenance process.
What are the functions of this power?
Once a car battery generates enough power, it can be utilized for different purposes. Due to SLI power delivery nature, this power can be leveraged for a variety of purposes from essentials to complementing features. Here’s a brief rundown of the functions offered by a car battery:
To start the car engine:
This is perhaps for what the cars were built for as this happens to be the main function of a car battery. While its application may be different for different cars owing to their engine type, capacity, size, and demands put up by the engine to start it up in terms of ampere-based values or cell capacity with a respective utility, the core goal stays the same.
The specification comes as courtesy of the battery measurements. These measurements are absolute and either denoted in Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) or Ampere-Hour (AH). While both of these denote battery’s specifications in one way or another, they have a completely different meaning when it comes down to their statistics. While the AH rating is concerned with the power delivery with respect to a certain time period, the CCA’s are more concerned with the battery’s tendency for power provisions in lower temperature conditions. Additionally, CCA is signified with the proportionality of an application directly to the dimensions of an engine. This relation helps set a minimum power for the respective application the power is used for. This is why fitting any battery during the car battery replacement is not feasible since CCA’s need to at least match up with the battery’s capacity to function properly.
Side effects of not putting sufficient battery capacity include larger displacement gaps. These result in a poor engine in poor weather conditions. A good battery with better CCA and higher capacity is often utilized to combat such extreme weather conditions.
Additional non-critical supply:
There are instances when something or the other doesn’t function properly inside a car. These are the times when some components might be working in lesser than recommended voltage counts, leading to their inefficiency and emergence of side effects like poor performance in the case of low engine power delivery.
This stress is laid on to the car batteries by either aging of the battery or extra accessories installed inside a car. All of the non-essential car accessories like car chargers, heated clothing, etc. can put unnecessary strain on a car battery making it to challenging to deliver the right amount of power for essential purposes. A battery unable to keep up with the existing electrical components along with the engine shows the signs of aging and signals the time to go for a battery replacement service.
System voltage stabilizer:
This is one of the most important yet underrated functions of a car battery. it can also serve as a volt stabilizer for the charging system. It serves as a backdoor to make way for the excessive electrical voltage generated by the car’s charging system. It also helps evade the high voltage spikes by partly absorbing them to prevent any kind of electrical damage on the charging system components and other correlated systems.
Active change of power:
Once a battery is done performing the task of starting up the car engine, it levies the rest of the car engine power duties to the alternator for further processing. Such an active power switch allows the car engine to perform actively without running hungry for the necessary power.
In this way, a car battery matches up to its goal by reaction-based power generation to deliver the necessary energy for the functioning of a car, serving as an essential car powerhouse.