Words to Know

Avi illustration

Alkaline batteries – usually single-use batteries. They have an alkaline electrolyte in them instead of an acid. 

Anode – the negative end of a battery, marked with a minus (−) sign.

Atoms – the smallest building blocks of all matter. Everything is made of atoms!

Cathode – the positive end of a battery, marked with a plus (+) sign.

Chemical energy – the energy stored in the chemical bonds of compounds.

Disposable (single-use) batteries –  batteries that can be used only once and cannot be recharged with the help of electricity. They must be replaced by a new battery for the device to work.

Electrolyte – a powder, gel, paste, or liquid that separates the anode and the cathode that allows electrons to move from the anode to the cathode through a device.

Electrons – part of every atom. They are extremely tiny and are negatively charged.

Fossil fuels – were formed over millions of years from buried plants and animals, and are available only in limited amounts. They have stored energy. They are also called nonrenewable energy sources.

Lead-acid batteries – rechargeable batteries that contain lead compounds in their anodes and cathodes. They use an acid for the electrolyte and are often used in automobiles. 

Lithium-ion batteries (LIB) – rechargeable batteries made with lithium metal; used in EVs, mobile phones, wheelchairs, wireless headsets, etc.

Oxidation – the chemical reaction happening at the cathode, where the cathode loses electrons.

Rechargeable batteries – batteries that can be charged and used again, over and over for a long time (like those in cell phones). 

Recycle – to make new usable parts or items from old, used, or worn-out things. 

Reduction – the chemical reaction happening at the anode, where the anode gains electrons.

Renewable energy – the energy sources in nature that never run out. They last pretty much forever (like the sun’s energy).