How A Car Battery Does Its Work

June 24th, 2016 by

 

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Car batteries are one of those things most drivers don’t really think about that often. Similar to other automotive chores like basic oil changes and brake checks, getting an new car battery in Albany, NY is something most of us do mindlessly when the right time passes or when we encounter a problem. But in reality, many of the drivers out on the road barely know how the battery they rely on to start their car every day even works – and that means they don’t know what’s going on when something goes wrong.

Luckily, an auto battery is a fairly simple power source, made of only a few components that use basic chemistry to provide power to your car’s electrical system. A modern battery generally uses a lead-acid electrochemical cell which, by utilizing the basic properties of the electron-rich battery acid, creates an electric charge. This charge flows out of the battery through the positive terminal, and into the battery from the negative terminal.

Once the keys are turned in the ignition, the battery releases its first, brief charge to start the engine, which starts the alternator. Sine the alternator can generate power with the physical movement of the engine, it’s able to take over providing most of the power needed by the electrical system. When you run your lights, play the radio, or charge your devices on the road, most of that power comes from the alternator. Although your battery will provide extra juice when needed for things like high beams, in most cases your battery isn’t being drained when you’re in the process of driving.

But perhaps most importantly, the alternator can send power back to the battery. This makes the battery rechargeable, and allows the battery to last for years at a time. And since consumers generally no longer need to worry about filling batteries with water – as was needed in older vehicles – many simply let their battery run until the day they have trouble starting the vehicle.

In that case, it’s likely because your battery’s lead-acid system has lost its ability to hold a charge due to decay and will likely need to be removed. Luckily, automotive batteries are regularly one of the most recycled products in the world, with around 99 percent eventually being recycled or efficiently scrapped to recover internal elements.

But What About Battery-Powered Cars?

Hybrid or fully-electric battery-powered cars use highly-efficient, high-voltage batteries to power every part of their car’s system, from lights to drivetrain. This obviously takes an enormous amount of power, but engineers for some of todays top electric cars seem to be getting the hang of it, with batteries lasting for over eighty miles and charging up to 80 percent in as little as twenty minutes.

Many of these hybrid or electric vehicles also utilize technology like Regenerative Braking, which converts the kinetic energy of your vehicle while braking to send power back to the electric battery. This can extend battery life even further and keep your electric car running for miles on simple electrochemistry.

So the next time you have the hood open and you’re staring at that big box near the engine, take a moment to appreciate how simply the battery helps make our cars the mean, powerful machines they are – and the next time you’re in for a battery change, consider for a moment just how important that little guy is to your fun on the road.