The science behind lead-acid batteries: a comprehensive overview

12v AGM deep cycle battery
The science behind lead-acid batteries: a comprehensive overview

Today, lead-acid batteries, which have been around for more than a century, are still the most popular kind of battery. They are widely used in automotive applications, backup power systems, and even renewable energy storage. However, despite their ubiquity, many people are not aware of the science behind these batteries and how they work. We will give a thorough explanation of the physics underlying lead-acid batteries in this piece.

Chemistry of Lead-Acid Batteries

Electrochemical systems, such as lead-acid batteries, transform molecular energy into electrical energy. They are made up of an electrolyte solution that allows electrons to travel easily between the two electrodes and two electrodes (the anode and the cathode). Lead and lead dioxide are used to make the cathode and anode, respectively. The cathode is made of lead dioxide, while the anode is made of lead. Sulfuric acid is frequently used as the electrolyte solution.

Lead sulfate is created on both electrodes of a lead-acid battery when the lead and lead dioxide electrodes combine with the sulfuric acid solution during discharge. During charging, a voltage is applied to the battery, which reverses the reaction and converts the lead sulfate back into lead and lead dioxide. This process generates electrical energy, which can be used to power devices.

Construction of Lead-Acid Batteries

A succession of cells—each having a positive electrode (cathode), a negative electrode (anode), and an electrolyte—are used to build lead-acid batteries. To create a battery, the cells are linked together in sequence. The number of cells used in a battery determines the battery’s voltage.

Each cell consists of a container made of a non-conductive material, such as plastic or glass. A permeable barrier separates the container’s two sections. The cathode is placed in one compartment, and the anode is placed in the other. The chambers are then filled with the solution. During charging and discharging, the lead and lead dioxide electrodes undergo changes in their chemical state, which results in the movement of electrons between the two electrodes.

Working Principle of Lead-Acid Batteries

The working principle of a lead-acid battery is based on the chemical reaction that occurs between the lead plates and the electrolyte solution. Lead dioxide and sulfuric acid in the electrolyte mix interact chemically when the battery is charged. This reaction produces lead sulfate and water, while also releasing electrons. These electrons flow through an external circuit and generate an electrical current.

The opposite response takes place when the battery is drained. The lead sulfate and water react to form lead dioxide, sulfuric acid, and electrons. Through the external circuit, this procedure produces a current that is flowing in the opposing way.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Lead-Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are appropriate for some uses due to their combination of benefits and drawbacks.


Comparatively inexpensive compared to other battery kinds

High power output

Ability to supply high currents

Range of sizes and forms available

High recycling rate


Low energy efficiency in comparison to other battery kinds

Heavy weight and size

Require regular maintenance to prevent sulfation

Sulfuric acid electrolyte can be hazardous and requires proper handling

Shorter life expectancy than other battery kinds

Applications of Lead-Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are widely used in various applications, including:

Automotive applications (starter batteries)

Backup power systems (uninterruptible power supply)

Renewable energy storage (off-grid solar and wind systems)

Marine and recreational vehicle applications

Lift trucks and other manufacturing machinery


The most popular kind of battery in use today is the lead-acid variety, which has been around for more than a century. Through the use of lead and lead dioxide conductors, a sulfuric acid electrolyte, and a chemical energy converter, they function by transforming chemical energy into electrical energy. Lead-acid batteries are appropriate for some applications due to their benefits and drawbacks. Despite their shortcomings, lead-acid batteries remain an important part of our energy infrastructure, and their continued use is expected for many years to come.

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