What are Primary Batteries: Status in 21st Century

What are Primary Batteries


Primary batteries, also known as disposable batteries, are single-use batteries that cannot be recharged or reused. They are designed to be used until they are fully discharged and then discarded, rather than being recharged like rechargeable batteries. Primary batteries are widely used in a range of applications, including consumer electronics, medical devices, and industrial equipment.

Different types of Primary Batteries

Primary batteries are composed of one or more electrochemical cells that convert chemical energy into electrical energy. The cells consist of two electrodes, a cathode, and an anode, which are separated by an electrolyte. The electrolyte allows the flow of ions between the electrodes, which generates an electrical current.

Primary batteries are available in a wide range of chemistries, including alkaline, zinc-carbon, lithium, and silver oxide. Each chemistry has unique properties that make it well-suited for specific applications. For example, alkaline batteries are commonly used in low-drain devices such as remote controls and flashlights, while lithium batteries are used in high-drain devices such as digital cameras and portable electronics.

Primary batteries have several advantages over rechargeable batteries. They are generally less expensive, have a longer shelf life, and can provide high levels of energy density. They also do not require charging infrastructure, which makes them well-suited for applications where recharging may not be practical, such as emergency lighting and medical devices.

What is the use of a primary battery?

Primary batteries are a type of electrochemical cell that provides electrical power without the need for external charging. These batteries, also known as disposable batteries, are designed to be used once and then discarded when they are depleted. They are commonly used in a wide range of applications, from powering small electronic devices such as remote controls and flashlights, to providing backup power in medical and military equipment.

One of the primary benefits of primary batteries is their low maintenance and ease of use. Unlike rechargeable batteries, primary batteries do not require regular charging or maintenance, making them ideal for situations where consistent, reliable power is required without the need for frequent attention. This makes them a popular choice for use in remote areas or in situations where electricity is not readily available.

There are many different types of primary batteries, each with their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most common types include alkaline, lithium, and zinc-carbon batteries. Alkaline batteries are perhaps the most widely used type of primary battery and are commonly found in household electronic devices such as remote controls and toys. They are relatively inexpensive and have a high energy density, meaning they can provide a lot of power in a small package.

Lithium batteries, on the other hand, are known for their high energy density and long shelf life. They are commonly used in applications where high power output and long life are required, such as in medical devices and military equipment. Lithium batteries are also used in many portable electronic devices, such as smartphones and digital cameras.

Zinc-carbon batteries are a more traditional type of primary battery that has been in use for over a century. They are inexpensive and widely available, but have a relatively short life and low energy density compared to other types of primary batteries. Despite this, they remain a popular choice for many applications where cost is a primary consideration.

In addition to their use in small electronic devices, primary batteries are also used in a wide range of other applications. For example, they are commonly used in backup power systems for emergency lighting and critical systems such as hospitals and data centers. They are also used in the transportation industry, such as in aircraft emergency lighting systems and in railroad signaling systems.

One of the main drawbacks of primary batteries is their environmental impact. When primary batteries are discarded after use, they can release harmful chemicals into the environment, including heavy metals and corrosive acids. This can lead to soil and water pollution and harm wildlife and plant life. For this reason, many jurisdictions have implemented laws and regulations regarding the disposal of primary batteries, and some manufacturers have developed more environmentally friendly versions of their products.

Despite their environmental impact, primary batteries continue to play an important role in many applications due to their low cost, ease of use, and reliability. As technology continues to advance, it is likely that new types of primary batteries will be developed that are even more efficient, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective than those currently available.

Primary batteries, also known as disposable batteries, have several advantages over rechargeable batteries. Here are some of the main advantages of primary batteries:


  1. Lower initial cost: Primary batteries are generally less expensive than rechargeable batteries, which makes them an attractive option for low-cost consumer electronics and other applications where cost is a significant factor.
  2. Long shelf life: Primary batteries can have a very long shelf life, which means they can be stored for long periods of time without losing their charge. This makes them a good choice for emergency use or for devices that are used infrequently.
  3. High energy density: Primary batteries can provide a high level of energy density, which means they can store a lot of energy in a relatively small package. This makes them well-suited for applications where space is limited.
  4. Convenient: Since primary batteries cannot be recharged, they do not require a charging infrastructure or the need to remember to charge them. This makes them a convenient option for many applications, such as remote controls or smoke detectors.
  5. No maintenance required: Primary batteries do not require any maintenance or special care, which makes them a hassle-free option for many applications.
  6. Safe and reliable: Primary batteries are generally safe and reliable, with a low risk of leakage or other hazards. They are also less likely to suffer from performance degradation over time, which means they can maintain their performance for longer.

Overall, primary batteries offer a range of advantages that make them well-suited for many applications. While they have some limitations, such as a limited lifespan and the potential for environmental impact, they remain a popular choice for many consumers and industries.

However, primary batteries also have some limitations. They cannot be recharged or reused, which can result in higher costs and waste generation. They also have a limited lifespan and can leak harmful chemicals if not disposed of properly.

Primary batteries, also known as disposable batteries, have some disadvantages compared to rechargeable batteries. Here are some of the main disadvantages of primary batteries:


  1. Single-use: Primary batteries can only be used once and must be discarded after they are depleted. This can result in more waste and higher costs compared to rechargeable batteries, which can be used multiple times.
  2. Environmental impact: The disposal of primary batteries can harm the environment, as they contain chemicals and metals that can be harmful to the soil and water. Recycling options for primary batteries are limited, and many end up in landfills where they can potentially leak these harmful substances.
  3. Limited capacity: Primary batteries typically have a lower capacity than rechargeable batteries, which means they may not last as long in high-drain devices such as digital cameras or portable electronics.
  4. Voltage output drops over time: The voltage output of primary batteries drops over time, even when they are not in use. This can lead to devices performing poorly or failing to work altogether.
  5. Not suitable for all applications: Primary batteries may not be suitable for all applications, particularly those that require high levels of power over an extended period. For example, they may not be appropriate for electric vehicles or other large-scale energy storage applications.
  6. Temperature sensitivity: Primary batteries can be sensitive to temperature changes, and may not perform well in extreme heat or cold.

Overall, while primary batteries have some advantages, they also have some notable limitations and potential drawbacks. As a result, they may not be the best option for all applications, and consumers and industries should carefully consider their needs before choosing a primary battery. Additionally, steps should be taken to minimize the environmental impact of primary batteries, such as properly disposing of them and exploring more sustainable alternatives.

To reduce the environmental impact of primary batteries, many manufacturers are developing more sustainable batteries, such as those made from recycled materials or with a reduced environmental footprint. Some companies are also exploring alternative chemistries, such as sodium-ion and zinc-air batteries, which may have a lower environmental impact and cost.

An anode (positively charged end) and a cathode (negatively charged end) constitute a primary battery or primary cell (negatively charged end). Typically, the cathode is graphite and the anode is zinc. The anode endures oxidation reactions where electrons are donated to the circuit, whereas the cathode undergoes reduction reactions where electrons are accepted from the environment. Additionally, there is an electrolyte that facilitates the flow of electric current. The electrolyte is composed of ions that can transfer their charge between the cathode and anode.

Leclanche cell is a typical example of a primary cell It consists of a zinc anode and a graphite cathode with pores. The battery’s electrolyte is a wet mixture of NH4Cl (ammonium chloride), Zinc chloride (ZnCl2), and Manganese dioxide (MnO2).

Chemical Reaction

The chemical reactions that occur inside the cell can be given below.

Anode:                Zn (s) →    Zn2+(aq)       +       2e

Cathode:   2NH4+(aq)    +    2e       → 2NH3 (g)   +    H2 (g)

Hence two gases NHand Hare produced in the cathode. But these gases again will participate in reactions as shown below.

2NH3 (g) + Zn2+(aq) → [Zn(NH3)2]2+(aq)

2MnO2 (s) + H2 (g) →Mn2O3 (s) +H2(l)

In conclusion, primary batteries are single-use batteries that are widely used in a range of applications. They are composed of one or more electrochemical cells that convert chemical energy into electrical energy. While they have several advantages over rechargeable batteries, they also have limitations, including a limited lifespan and potential environmental impact. As a result, ongoing research and development efforts are focused on developing more sustainable and efficient primary battery technologies.


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List of top 10 books on primary Batteries

Here are ten books that provide a comprehensive overview of primary batteries and their applications:

  1. Primary Batteries: Their Theory, Construction, and Use by Arthur E. Willyoung – This book provides an in-depth examination of the theory behind primary batteries, including their construction, operation, and practical use.
  2. Handbook of Batteries by David Linden and Thomas Reddy – This book covers a wide range of battery technologies, including primary batteries, and provides detailed information on their chemistry, design, and applications.
  3. The Alkaline Battery: A Guide to Its Construction and Use by David Linden – This book provides a detailed examination of alkaline batteries, including their chemistry, design, and performance.
  4. Lithium Batteries: Science and Technology by Masaki Yoshio, Ralph J. Brodd, and Akiya Kozawa – This book provides an overview of lithium battery technology, including primary lithium batteries and their applications.
  5. Zinc Air Battery: Basics and Applications by C. S. Srinivasan – This book provides a comprehensive overview of zinc-air batteries, including their design, operation, and applications.
  6. Zinc-Carbon Battery: Basics and Applications by D. P. Dubal – This book provides a detailed examination of zinc-carbon batteries, including their chemistry, construction, and practical use.
  7. Primary Battery Management: A Practical Guide to Battery Use and Care by John J. Larkin – This book provides practical advice on how to manage and care for primary batteries, including tips on maximizing their lifespan and performance.
  8. The Handbook of Lithium-Ion Battery Pack Design: Chemistry, Components, Types and Terminology by John T. Warner – This book provides an overview of lithium-ion battery pack design, including primary lithium batteries and their applications.
  9. Introduction to Electrochemistry by Samuel Glasstone – This book provides an introduction to electrochemistry, including the basic principles of batteries and their applications.
  10. Battery Power Management for Portable Devices by Yevgen Barsukov and David H. Levy – This book provides an overview of battery power management for portable devices, including primary batteries and their applications, and provides practical advice on how to extend battery life and optimize performance.

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