Ingredients in Duracell Batteries

By Edwin Thomas

Duracell is a well-known American battery-maker with a quality reputation. Their product line embraces a variety of battery sizes aimed at meeting the requirements of almost any personal electronic device. While Duracell batteries are often dubbed "alkalines," the term is a vague one and does not reveal very much about what the batteries are made of. Duracell's products use a number of different chemicals to produce an electric current, each tailored to a specific need.

Electrochemistry Basics

Batteries produce an electric current because of a chemical reaction between two different substances. One substance is embodied in the anode (usually the positive terminal) and the other in the cathode (usually the negative terminal). If these two were placed in direct contact, they would short circuit, so they are separated by a third material called an electrolyte, which serves as the chemical bridge between the two electrodes.

Alkalines

Most of the common Duracell batteries, such as those from the regular Coppertop line, are alkalines. This means they use an anode made of zinc powder and a cathode of manganese dioxide. The electrolyte is made of potassium hydroxide. Alkalines like these Duracell batteries are non-rechargeable.

Powerpix

Duracell's Powerpix line of non-rechargeable batteries use nickel oxyhydroxide units (NiOx). In applications like digital cameras they provide up to twice the working life as a regular alkaline battery. The NiOx is used to make the cathode. The anode and electrolyte are often made of the same materials as in alkaline batteries: zinc and potassium hydroxide.

Rechargeables

Duracell's rechargeable battery line is of nickel-metal hydride design (NiMH). They are easily identified by the green striping and printing on the label. The anode is made of nickel oxyhydroxide, while the cathode is of an alloy made with rare earth compounds capable of absorbing hydrogen. As with many alkalines, the electrolyte is often potassium hydroxide.

Lithium Ion Batteries

Duracell also makes lithium batteries, which are easily identified as their disc-like watch and electronics units. The term "lithium battery" refers to a very large family of battery designs, but they all have one feature in common--they use a lithium compound for an anode, hence their name. Duracell lithium batteries use manganese dioxide for an anode and have an electrolyte made out of an organic solvent.