Dry cell batteries, as opposed to the wet cell variety, feature pastes or other porous substances that trap electrolytes and restrict them from flowing freely. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, every individual in the U.S. goes through eight dry cell batteries—on average—each year, using them to power remote controls, flashlights and other small devices. And while dry cell batteries have their disadvantages (such as having relatively low charge capacities), they also have several advantages.
Manufacturers can make dry cell batteries much smaller and more compact than their wet cell counterparts (which is why the latter are only used for powering large items, such as cars and boats), according to experiencefestival.com. And, unlike with wet cell technology, you can use dry cells individually as mini-batteries (commonly referred to as button cells), for powering small electronic devices such as watches and calculators.
As mentioned above, dry cells do not contain freely moving liquids. According to experiencefestival.com, this design feature gives dry cells several advantages over wet cells, including being lighter in weight, easier to transport and easier to contain (or to group together in a series, in order to generate a higher voltage output). According to basspro.com, because of their dry design, dry cell batteries are also more durable, particularly in high-vibration situations. This is because the fluid electrolytes in wet cells can slosh around and disrupt proper function, while the electrolytes in dry cells are fixed.
The chemicals acting as electrolytes in dry cell batteries are all relatively safe, both for human handling and for the environment, according to experiencefestival.com. These chemicals include manganese oxide, ammonium chloride, powdered carbon and an inactive filler substance (which, oftentimes is starch). In contrast, wet cell batteries utilize a liquid solution (referred to as battery acid) of distilled water and sulfuric acid, the latter of which is an incredibly corrosive substance. If you damage a wet cell battery and it begins leaking, the battery acid that spills out can cause burns, tissue damage and other severe traumas. According to basspro.com, wet cell batteries also release hydrogen, a highly flammable gas, which requires that you pay special attention to keeping them well ventilated. Otherwise, a fire or explosion could result.
Dry cell batteries are less expensive for manufacturers to produce in comparison to their wet cell counterparts, according to experiencefestival.com.