Why Removing Batteries and Putting Them Back Gives Them More Life
On this episode of “Things I Learned Today,” I’m talking about batteries. Why simply removing batteries and putting them back in actually gives them some more life? How can a batter have no energy left, but seemingly gain some energy again when they are reset? Sometimes, you can even just wiggle batteries and have that happen. What’s up? Well an action called “Polarization” is up actually. This is a chemical action that occurs in the battery cell while the current is flowing through it, causing hydrogen bubbles to form on the surface of the anode.
Essentially, when the bubbles are created faster than they can dissipate, they can cover the anode in the battery, stopping the chemical reaction, and thus, halting the battery’s output. So, when I remove the batteries from a completed circuit, the chemical reactions all stop, and the bubbles over the anode will then dissipate, and once again allow the battery to work again.
This hydrogen buildup is a side reaction in lead acid batteries, and it’s the reason why they occasionally explode. Copper top batteries and button batteries, like the really small one inside this remote control, don’t explode.
It’s important to not that batteries don’t just stop. they slow down to a useless rate. you’ll probably see this effect when you’re using them, whether that be in a motorized toothbrush that slows down to a really slow pace, or a remove control car that can no longer climb a small hill on its own. When you shake the batteries, or sometimes even rub them, you warm them up, and this also warms up the chemicals which will increase the reaction due to the increase in thermal energy.
Fun fact also… rubbing them also removes some of the oxidized metal on the outside, allowing better conductive contact with the circuit. Making the batter better!
So the next time your batteries are dying on ya, and you wish you had just a little more juice, remember that taking the batteries out, and putting them back in a short time later actually does, chemically, do something to increase the life of the battery.
The best part about “Things I Learned Today” is the sharing element. It isn’t just about what I learned, but it’s about you as well! You can join in on the show by telling me what you learned today in the comments below! It’s fun. Join in.