Difference Between Lithium & Alkaline Batteries

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Alkaline and lithium batteries are the two most common types of batteries used as personal power sources. Both have different chemical compositions and voltage ranges; these differences become more significant as lithium batteries cross over into the AA and AAA market that alkaline batteries once dominated.

Function

Alkaline batteries use zinc and manganese oxide to generate power, while lithium batteries use lithium metal or compounds as their anode.

Types

Lithium batteries are mostly known as the small coin-shaped batteries used to power watches, calculators and small remote controls. However, lithium batteries have expanded into AA and AAA versions to compete with alkaline batteries.

Effects

Lithium batteries produce twice as much voltage as alkaline batteries, giving them longer life, and making their AA and AA versions more expensive than their alkaline counterparts.

Misconceptions

Lithium batteries are not the same as lithium ion batteries. Unlike lithium ion, lithium batteries are not rechargeable.

Warning

The Transportation Security Administration heavily restricts carrying lithium batteries on airplanes due to the high risk of discharge if they short circuit. Some states also restrict the amount of batteries sold due to their suspected use in meth labs.

About the Author

Chris Moore has been contributing to eHow since 2007 and is a member of the DFW Writers' Workshop. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas-Arlington.

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