A rechargeable battery, also known as a storage battery, is a group of two or more secondary cells. These batteries can be restored to full charge by the application of electrical energy. In other words, they are electrochemical cells in which the electrochemical reaction that releases energy is readily reversible. Rechargeable electrochemical cells are therefore a type of accumulator. They come in many different designs using different chemicals. Commonly used secondary cell chemistries are lead and sulfuric acid, rechargeable alkaline battery (alkaline), nickel cadmium (NiCd), nickel hydrogen (NIH2), nickel metal hydride (NiMH), lithium ion (Li-ion), and lithium ion polymer (Li-ion polymer).
Rechargeable batteries can offer economic and environmental benefits compared to disposable batteries. Some rechargeable battery types are available in the same sizes as disposable types. While the rechargeable cells have a higher first cost than disposable batteries, rechargeable batteries can be discharged and recharged many times. Proper selection of a rechargeable battery system can reduce toxic materials sent to landfill disposal compared to an equivalent series of disposable batteries. Some manufacturers of NiMH type rechargeable batteries claim a service life up to 3000 charge cycles for their batteries.
A fuel cell is an electrochemical conversion device. It produces electricity from fuel (on the anode side) and an oxidant (on the cathode side), which react in the presence of an electrolyte. The reactants flow into the cell, and the reaction products flow out of it, while the electrolyte remains within it. Fuel cells can operate virtually continuously as long as the necessary flows are maintained.
Fuel cells are different from electrochemical cell batteries in that they consume reactant from an external source, which must be replenished - a thermodynamically open system. By contrast batteries store electrical energy chemically and hence represent a thermodynamically closed system.
Many combinations of fuel and oxidant are possible. A hydrogen cell uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen (usually from air) as oxidant. Other fuels include hydrocarbons and alcohols. Other oxidants include chlorine and chlorine dioxide.
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