Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

How does an Electric Battery work?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Electric Batteries

Mains level : Not Much


Central Idea

  • Electric batteries have become an integral part of modern life, enabling the widespread use of motorization and wireless technology.
  • These devices store and release electrical energy, acquired by converting other forms of energy, primarily through chemical reactions.

Historical Roots of Electric Batteries

  • Galvani’s Experiment: In 1780, Luigi Galvani conducted an experiment involving two metal plates and a frog’s leg, marking an early exploration of electricity’s effects on biological systems.
  • Volta’s Voltaic Pile: Alessandro Volta’s voltaic pile in 1800 consisted of alternating copper and zinc plates separated by electrolyte-soaked paper. It produced a steady current but lacked a comprehensive explanation.
  • John Daniel’s Innovation: British chemist John Daniel improved on Volta’s design with a more efficient cell that generated electric current for extended periods.
  • Faraday’s Insights: In the early 19th century, Michael Faraday elucidated the principles of electrochemical cells, including naming components like anode, cathode, and electrolyte.

Understanding Electric Batteries

  • Voltaic Cells: Electric batteries, also known as voltaic or galvanic cells, utilize redox reactions to produce an electric current. They consist of two half-cells, each with a metal electrode immersed in an electrolyte of the same metal.
  • Electron Transfer: In one half-cell, metal ions dissolve into the electrolyte, releasing electrons. In the other half-cell, the reverse occurs, as metal ions deposit onto the electrode and require electrons.
  • External Circuit: A wire connects the two electrodes, allowing electron flow from the anode to the cathode. A salt bridge connects the two electrolytes, enabling ion exchange.
  • Components: Key components include the cathode (positive electrode), anode (negative electrode), and the electrolyte. The source voltage and terminal voltage are important concepts.
  • Source Voltage: It represents the energy imparted to electrons and is equal to the terminal voltage in ideal conditions.
  • Issues: Corrosion is a common issue in electrochemical cells, caused by factors like moisture and galvanic corrosion.

Types of Batteries

  • Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) Batteries: Li-ion batteries are rechargeable and have revolutionized technology. They consist of a cathode, anode, and an electrolyte. During discharge, lithium ions move between electrodes, facilitating energy storage.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Batteries: EV batteries, such as those used in Tesla’s Model S, are composed of numerous Li-ion cells and are critical for powering electric vehicles.
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Hydrogen fuel cells are gaining interest, especially in the context of green energy. They use hydrogen as a fuel source and produce electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen, emitting water as a byproduct.

Future Prospects and Significance

  • Ongoing Research: Li-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells continue to be areas of extensive research, with diverse configurations and advantages.
  • Hydrogen Economy: Hydrogen fuel cells are expected to play a pivotal role in the emerging hydrogen economy, and countries like India are investing in green hydrogen production.


  • Electric batteries, rooted in the principles of electrochemistry, have undergone significant evolution, transforming the way we live and utilize energy.
  • Their development and improvement remain central to advancing convenience and sustainability in industrialized societies, shaping the future of technology and transportation.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥💥[Course]Smash Ethics by AIR 48, Ethics Topper 133 marks.
This is default text for notification bar