Battery Glossary – Charge

Charge – the process of putting electrical energy into a battery where it is stored as chemical energy. This involves passing an electrical current through the battery which causes changes to its components.

In a Lithium Ion battery, for example, charging causes lithium ions to move from the positive cathode to the negative anode. When all the Ions have moved to the negative anode it is fully charged. The process happens gradually, usually over several hours, even for small batteries.  A great deal of research is currently underway to refine ‘rapid charging’.

How a lithium-ion battery works
Ions on the move in a charging lithium-ion battery. Annotated clip from the BASF video ‘How a lithium-ion battery works’


Note the charging process varies depending on the battery type. Lead Acid batteries require a constant current while Lithium Ion batteries need different currents at different stages in the charging process. It is for this reason that using the wrong charger on a battery can damage it or even lead to fires or explosions.

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