How are batteries made?

Find out with Sir Sidney McSprocket!

Batteries may be small – but they’re fairly complicated. Think about the ones you put in your TV remote – they’re made of a small metal can – similar to the size of your little finger.

Inside is a combination of chemicals which work together to produce the power we need.

To make the body of the battery, tiny canister shapes are punched out of steel. They must be exactly the same size, with no tears or creases because that could let the chemicals out…

Cylinder batteries often contain a metal nail which helps create the chemical reaction. Each nail must be very clean, and will be tumbled in grit to make sure no dirt is clinging on.

One of the important chemicals is zinc oxide which arrives at the factory in huge slabs of the metal.

Now, it’ll be a bit tricky to get those into the tiny canisters! The slabs are heated up to make either a molten liquid or a fine powder which fills the little canisters.

Now the zinc mustn’t touch the other substances inside the battery and so a tiny plastic separator is inserted before the next chemical goes in.

And that ingredient is manganese oxide, which is mixed with a secret combination of other chemicals. Once it’s ready, it’s added into a separate section to the zinc.

Once all the materials are inside, a base and a cap with a dimple – the positive end of the battery – are fixed onto the canister, and it’s ready for packaging.

Of course, these batteries are slightly different to batteries you might find in your phone or in your laptop! These ones aren’t designed to be recharged, for a start, and contain a different set of chemicals to other ones.

As you can imagine, with all those chemicals – however curious you are – you musn’t try to look inside! Let my compendium do the hard work for you!

Sidney McSprocket is Fun Kids’ resident inventor!

When he’s not in Edinburgh, tinkering with wacky contraptions in his workshop, he’s finding out all about manufacturing!

In the latest series, Sidney is finding out about a whole load of everyday objects from tin cans and toothbrushes to plastic bottles and Pyrex…

Sir Sidney McSprocket's Amazing Inventions

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Sidney McSprocket’s How’s it Made, with support from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851.

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