Difference Between Primary Cell And Secondary Cell

Knowledgebase

Last Updated on April 15, 2023 by mdmtool

Primary cells are cells that can’t be recharged or reused, meaning that after they have been used once, their chemical composition has changed, and they must be disposed of. Secondary cells, also known as rechargeable batteries, are made up of multiple cells connected together in order to store more energy than a single primary cell. They can be recharged multiple times and can be used for a much longer period of time. The most common types of secondary cells are lead-acid batteries, nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.

Primary Cell Vs. Secondary Cell

What Is A Primary Cell?

A primary cell is a type of battery that is designed to be used once and then discarded. It typically cannot be recharged or reused, meaning that after it has been used, once its chemical composition has changed and it must be disposed of. Primary cells are often used in small electronic devices such as watches, calculators, and hearing aids.

What Is A Secondary Cell?

A secondary cell, also known as a rechargeable battery, is a type of battery made up of multiple cells connected together in order to store more energy than a single primary cell. They can be recharged multiple times and used for a much longer period of time. The most common types of secondary cells are lead-acid batteries, nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. These types of cells are used in larger electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, and electric vehicles.

Examples:

Primary Cell:

  • Zinc-air battery
  • Carbon-zinc battery
  • Alkaline battery

Secondary Cell:

  • Lead-acid batteries
  • Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries
  • Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries
  • Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries
  • Laptop batteries
  • Electric car batteries
  • Other electronic devices requiring a rechargeable battery

How Did It work?

Primary cells:

  • Step 1: Upon activation, the primary cell’s chemical reaction generates an electric current.
  • Step 2: The current then flows through the circuit and powers whatever device is connected to it.
  • Step 3: Once the power has been depleted, the cell can no longer produce electricity and must be replaced with a new one.
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Secondary Cells:

  • Step 1: The secondary cell is charged, which reverses the chemical reaction and stores energy in the cells.
  • Step 2: This stored energy is then released as an electric current when a device is connected to the cell.
  • Step 3: Once all of the stored energy has been used up; the cell can be recharged for reuse.

Characteristics:

Primary Cell:

  • Can only discharge energy.
  • Not rechargeable.
  • Short life span.
  • Low energy density.
  • Produces low voltage output.

Secondary Cell:

  • Can both discharge and recharge energy.
  • Rechargeable multiple times.
  • Longer life span.
  • High energy density.
  • Produces high voltage output.

Applications:

Primary cells:

  • Watches
  • Calculators
  • Hearing aids

Secondary cells:

  • Cell phones
  • Laptops
  • Electric vehicles

Advantages And Disadvantages:

Primary Cells Advantages:

  • Low cost
  • Lightweight

Disadvantages:

  • Not rechargeable
  • Short lifespan

Secondary Cells Advantages:

  • Rechargeable
  • Longer lifespan

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive than primary cells
  • Heavier than primary cells.

Comparison Chart:

PROPERTY Primary Cell Secondary Cell
Definition: A primary cell is a type of battery that cannot be recharged and needs to be replaced after its energy has been used up. A secondary cell is a type of battery that can be recharged multiple times before needing to be replaced.
Chemical Reactions: Chemical reactions occur during the discharge of energy. Chemical reactions occur during both discharge and charge of energy.
Cost: Generally less expensive than secondary cells. Generally more expensive than primary cells due to their rechargeable nature.
Importance: Primary cells are important for applications in which a single use of energy is required. Secondary cells are important for applications that require repeated uses of energy.
Self-Discharge Rate: Relatively low self-discharge rate.  Relatively high self-discharge rate.
Recharging Ability: Not rechargeable. Rechargeable multiple times.
Environmental Impact: Can be more harmful to the environment due to increased waste from disposal of used cells. Generally have less of an environmental impact due to fewer wasted cells due to their rechargeable nature.
Use: Applications such as remote controls, camera flash, and smoke detectors. Applications such as laptop batteries, electric cars, and other electronic devices requiring a rechargeable battery.
Internal resistance: Higher than secondary cells. Lower than primary cells.
Capacity: Typically have lower capacity compared to secondary cells (due to their disposable nature). Have higher capacity compared to primary cells due to repeated recharging.
Internal voltage drop: Lower than secondary cells. Higher than primary cells.
Terminal voltage: Low terminal voltage.  High terminal voltage.
Cycle life: Generally short cycle life due to its single-use nature. Generally long cycle life due to recharging ability.
Charging Rate: Not applicable. Recharging capacity at a faster pace than primary cells.
Discharging rate: Lower discharging rate due to its disposable nature. Higher discharging rate due to recharging ability.
Current: Low current output. High current output due to recharging capacity.
Size and weight: Generally smaller and lighter than secondary cells. Generally larger and heavier than primary cells due to their rechargeable nature.
Reversible/Irreversible Reaction: Irreversible reaction as energy cannot be recharged. Reversible reaction as energy can be both discharged and recharged.
Safety: Generally safe but may result in leakage of electrolytes if not used properly. Generally safer than primary cells due to its ability to be recharged multiple times and monitored with safety circuits.
Efficiency: Generally higher efficiency than secondary cells. Generally lower efficiency than primary cells due to internal resistance and charging/discharging process.
Design Life: Generally shorter design life than secondary cells due to its single-use nature. Generally longer design life than primary cells due to their rechargeable nature.
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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What Are The 2 Cells Types?

1. Primary Cell

2. Secondary Cell

Which Cells Have a Higher Self-Discharge Rate?

Secondary Cells have a relatively high self-discharge rate compared to Primary Cells.

We Use Battery Cell In Our Everyday Life?

Yes, we use battery cells in our everyday life for applications such as remote controls, cameras flash, smoke detectors and other electronic devices requiring a rechargeable battery.

Which Cell Has A Higher Capacity?

Secondary Cells have higher capacity compared to Primary Cells due to their ability to be recharged multiple times.

Conclusion

Both primary and secondary cells have their own advantages, depending on the application they are used in. Primary Cells are typically used for single-use applications, while Secondary Cells are used for applications that require rechargeable batteries. Secondary Cells typically have higher capacity and current output than Primary Cells, which makes them ideal for applications such as laptop batteries, electric cars, and other electronic devices requiring a rechargeable battery. In terms of safety, Secondary Cells are usually safer than Primary Cells due to their ability to be recharged multiple times and monitored with safety circuits. When it comes to efficiency, Primary Cells generally have a higher efficiency than Secondary Cells due to lower internal resistance and charging/discharging process.

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