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Difference Between Cell and Battery for JEE Main 2024

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Last updated date: 01st Mar 2024
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Cell vs Battery

Batteries and cells are one of the most important inventions that have made our lives and everyday tasks a lot simpler and easier. They are used practically in most of the portable electronic devices that we use in our day to day life. We can also say that we cannot imagine our lives without cells and batteries.

 

However, a cell and a battery are quite different from one another even though we often use both the terms interchangeably. A battery generally contains electrical energy which is already supplied from a factory or can be charged easily via an outlet. On the other hand, a cell contains chemical energy sources like diesel, propane or natural gas. It converts these sources to electrical energy to generate power. Hence, in terms of the functionalities and how it is made, there are quite a few differences between cell and battery. In this article, we will take a look at the comparison between cell vs battery.

 

Types of Batteries

There are two types of batteries: primary (non chargeable) and secondary (chargeable).


In primary batteries there are several different types. Here are some of them:

  • Alkaline (Zn/Alkaline/MnO2): These are very popular, and are known for their moderate cost and high performance. These are the most popular batteries that are used in many regular electronic items. 

  • Magnesium (Mg/MnO2): They have a high capacity and a long shelf life. They are used in military and aircraft radio.

  • Mercury (Zn/HgO): They have a very high capacity and long shelf life like magnesium ones. They are used in medical equipment like hearing aids and pacemakers, and also in cameras.

  • Lithium/Solid Cathode: These have high energy density, a low temp performance and a long shelf life. These are used as a replacement for button and cylindrical cells.

  • Lithium/Soluble Cathode: Like the solid cathode these are also high energy density. These show a better performance though and a wide temp range of applications, with a capacity between 1–10,000 Ah.

  • Lithium/Solid Electrolyte: These are low on power, but have an extremely long shelf life. They are used in memory circuits and medical electronics.

  • Silver/Zinc (Zn/Ag2O): They have the highest capacity and a flat discharge, and hence are costliest. Most common uses of these are found in hearing aids and photography.

  • Zinc: These are low cost and come in a variety of sizes. They are used in many day to day things like radios, toys and instruments.

 

The main advantage of these batteries is they can be recharged and reused. Hence the other term: rechargeable batteries.

 

Secondary Batteries

These usually cost more than the primary ones as they are rechargeable and can have a longer lifespan.

 

It is used mainly for energy storage devices and applications where it is used and discharged as a primary battery.

 

In the first application, which is the storage devices, the secondary batteries supply and store energy for devices such as Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPS) and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV). These are devices that are electrically connected to the main energy source, and they’re charged by it, but they also supply the needed energy.

 

As for the second application, where it is used and discharged as a primary battery, it works for portable electronics like mobile phones, laptops and electric vehicles. Once they’re discharged, they can be recharged with a charging mechanism.

 

Types of Cells

There are two types of cells. 

Reserve Cells

Reserve cells are also for one-time usage, just like primary batteries. But there is a major difference. They have an electrolyte isolated from the electrodes or electrodes isolated from the electrolyte. So the electrolyte gets activated only when the battery is used. This is why these batteries do not self-discharge (like primary batteries do) and have a longer life. Some of the popular reserve cells are: thermal batteries, electrolyte activated batteries, water activated batteries, and gas activated batteries. These batteries generally find their usage in military-grade applications.

 

Fuel Cells

In fuel cells, the active material is fed into the battery from outside. The battery is operational only until that active material is fed to it. Fuel cells are used a lot in space applications, and also in electric vehicles, power backup and load leveling.

 

Cell and Battery Difference

When we take a look at what is the difference between cell and battery, the biggest difference is that a cell tends to generate energy by converting the resources available, whereas a battery generally stores energy. The difference between cell and battery in tabular form is given below.

 

Difference Between Cell and Battery

Cell

Battery

A cell is known to be a single unit device that tends to convert the chemical energy into electric energy.

A battery generally consists of a group of different cells.

Depending on what types of electrolytes are used, a cell can be either of reserve, wet or dry kinds. Cells can also include a molten salt type.

A battery can either be a primary or a secondary battery which means that it is either rechargeable or non-chargeable.

A cell is generally compact and light since it contains a single unit.

A battery consists of many different cells which give it a bigger size and make it bulkier.

A cell can only supply power for a shorter period.

A battery can supply power for much longer durations.

A cell is generally used for lighter tasks that do not require much energy. For example, it is used in clocks and lamps.

A battery is used generally for heavy-duty tasks. For example, it is used in automobiles and inverters.

Cells are cheaper in general.

Batteries are comparatively costlier.

FAQs on Difference Between Cell and Battery for JEE Main 2024

1. What is a Cell?

A cell refers to a single power generating unit that tends to store chemical energy and later converts it to electrical energy. It consists of two electrodes which are anode and cathode. The cell consists of an electrolyte, which is a chemical substance which tends to react with the electrodes to produce an electric current.


Redox reactions tend to occur between the electrodes and the electrolyte. Because of this reaction, the electric current flows via an external circuit. A cell is generally classified into four different kinds. These are the dry cell, wet cell, fuel cell and reserve cell. The wet cell makes use of a liquid electrolyte and the dry cell makes use of a powder electrolyte.

2. What is a Battery?

A battery is a device that contains two or more units of the electrochemical cell. The cathode is the positive terminal of the battery and the anode is known as the negative terminal of the battery. There are two different types of batteries which are the primary and the secondary battery. The primary battery cannot be reused and is irreversible, whereas, on the other hand, the secondary battery can be recharged again and again. The chemical energy in a primary cell is present inherently. In the secondary cell, electrical energy is induced with the help of an external source.

3. What is the Difference Between a Cell and a Battery?

The difference between a cell and a battery is explained below.

  1. A cell is known as a single unit device that converts electrical energy to chemical energy,  while a battery is a group of different cells.

  2. A cell can be either of wet, dry, fuel or reserve type depending on the kind of electrolytes used, while a battery is either rechargeable or non-rechargeable.

  3. Since the cell has only one unit, it is compact and light,  while on the other hand,  the battery has a combination of different cells that increase the battery size and makes it bulkier.

  4. The power supply in the cell is for a short period of time, while the power supply in the battery is for a longer duration.

  5. Cells are comparatively cheaper than the batteries.

  6. Cells are generally used in lamps, clocks, etc., that do not need much energy, while batteries are used in inverters, automobiles, etc.

4. What are secondary batteries?

Secondary batteries are rechargeable and can have a longer lifespan.


They are used for two purposes: i) Energy storage devices and ii) Applications where it is used and discharged as a primary battery.


In the energy storage devices the secondary batteries supply and store energy for devices such as Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPS) and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV). These devices are electrically connected to the main energy source, they’re charged by it, and they also supply the needed energy. 


For example, a UPS is a battery backup for devices like computers. It provides reserve power when the regular power source fails or runs out.


In its second application as a used and discharged battery, it is used in portable electronics like mobile phones, laptops and electric vehicles. Once they’re discharged, they can be recharged with a charging mechanism. 


Here are Four Different Types of Secondary Batteries: lithium-ion batteries (mobile phones and laptops), lead acid batteries (used in automobiles, kids’ electric vehicles, emergency power supplies), nickel-cadmium batteries (used in power tools, cordless telephones, biomedical equipment) and nickel metal hydride (used in smoke alarms, power tools, mobile phones).

5. What are the advantages of fuel cells?

Fuel cells are those in which the active material is fed into the battery from outside. The battery is operational only until that active material is fed to it. 


Here are Some of its Advantages: 

The main advantage of fuel cells is that the process of converting chemical potential energy directly into electrical energy avoids a thermal bottleneck. 


Also, as there are no moving parts in the cell, it is convenient and highly reliable. 


As the hydrogen produced is in an environment-friendly manner, these are comparatively less harmful to the environment.


Fuel cells are mainly used in transport vehicles like cars and buses. They are also used as a backup to produce electricity in case of power failure. They also used a lot in space applications.