Car batteries serve a crucial role in the inner workings of an automobile, as they provide electric energy to the car to help start it. That's why if your car suddenly doesn't start, the likely culprit is a dead battery. Conventional vehicles today are equipped with a lead-acid battery, which are comprised of lead plates, lead dioxide plates and an electrolyte solution composed of water and sulfuric acid.
Car batteries play a crucial role under the hood of an automobile - and it's unlikely that they'll ever be completely replaced. However, with that being said, alternative vehicles such as hybrids and electric cars require different types of battery compositions. So while car batteries may never be replaced, different types of batteries are starting to emerge on the market with more regularity. Here's a look at some of these different types of battery compositions:
Lithium-ion batteries are more synonymous with consumer electronics than anything, but they're starting to find their way under vehicle hoods - notably electric vehicles. As far as replacement batteries go, lithium-ion batteries offer a superior power-to-weight ration, offer high energy efficiency, perform well in high temperatures, and can be recycled. A major drawback, however, is their high cost (about four to five times more expensive than the next battery on the list.)
Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries
Nickel-metal hydride batteries are commonly used in the likes of computers and medical devices. They're also being deployed in electric cars and hybrid electric vehicles - and with good success. For starters, nickel-metal hydride batteries last longer than the conventional lead-acid type of battery. They're also very safe, and they stand up well in harsh environments, such as under the hood of cars. In terms of disadvantages, however, nickel-metal hydride batteries are costly, and are known to generate high temperature heat.
These types of alternative replacement batteries work by storing energy in polarized liquid form between an electrode and electrolyte. Noting this, these types of batteries are best utilized in electric vehicles, and can be useful as secondary storage in terms of heavy acceleration or helping to regenerate braking power.
As we noted in the opening, while car batteries are likely not going anywhere, their composition is changing today - and will likely also change going into the future as more research and development is conducted along the lines of lithium-ion, nickel-metal hydride and ultracapacitor varieties, and as more electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles are produced and turn up on the roads. Think of the aforementioned battery types as alternative replacement batteries, in that they're more economical and longer lasting than today's industry standard.