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Carbon Zinc/Zinc Chloride Batteries
The zinc-carbon-ammonium chloride “dry” cell battery, or Leclanche cell, is one of the older battery chemistries, having been developed in the late 1800s. The zinc-carbon-zinc chloride system is a “heavy-duty” version of the Leclanche cell. These cells were manufactured in the United States and Europe throughout most of the twentieth century, until production became cost prohibitive. These cells are now made almost exclusively in Asia. Read more
Carbon zinc/zinc chloride batteries were the first commercial dry battery, and are currently available in most common sizes, including AA, AAA, C, D, and 9 volt. They are the least expensive primary batteries, and provide good, low cost performance for general purpose applications such as cameras, remote controls, flashlights, and toys. Unfortunately, these batteries have limited shelf life, and are susceptible to leakage, especially if ambient storage temperatures rise above 40°C.
The zinc casing of a zinc-carbon-zinc chloride battery also acts as its negative terminal. A graphite rod surrounded by powdered carbon and manganese oxide (added to increase electrical conductivity) serves as the positive terminal. Carbon is a key component of the battery’s construction, but plays no actual role in the electrochemical reaction—it serves only to collect current and reduce the resistance of the manganese oxide mix. “Zinc-manganese cells” would be a more accurate name for these batteries.