Difference Between Primary Cell and Secondary Cell with FAQs

The parallel combination of electrochemical cells is battery or cell. For explaining the difference between a primary and secondary cell, first focus on the fact that secondary cells are the one that is rechargeable while the primary cells can be not rechargeable. Secondary cells can be recharged after the charges are over while the primary cells are discarded after the expiration of the lifetime.

The lifetime of the primary cells is low since The design of the primary cells is smaller and lighter while the design of a secondary cell is more complicated and heavier. In this article, the difference between primary cell and secondary cell and also their characteristics properties are explained in detail. Due to the high waste produced by the primary cell as they have to be disposable immediately after use, the use of primary cells is declining and the use of secondary batteries is increasing nowadays. Before going to explain them in detail first we need to know about what a cell and battery are.

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Differentiate primary cell and secondary cell

Some of the difference between primary cell and secondary cell are shown in the following table.

Primary cellSecondary cell
Cannot be recharged after getting discharged.It can be recharged.
They are cheap.They are expensive.
Easy to handle.It is complicated.
It has a small lifetime. And are discarded immediately after its use.It has a high lifetime. And are reusable.
Self recharge rate is low. And are found in the torch and other portable electronic devices that need electric current immediately.It possesses a high self-recharge rate. And these are found in inverters and automobiles.

Cell vs Battery

The working of both the battery and cell is the same and these two terms are often mispronounced sometimes. Both cell and battery are a part of electrochemistry. Cells are a smaller one while the battery is a larger one. The energy conversion of both of them is similar in that they convert chemical energy into electrical energy. The main difference between battery and cell is that a battery is a combination of a group of cells while the cell is a single unit and both convert chemical energy into electrical energy.

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Define primary cell

As already mentioned the one that cannot be charged is called a primary cell and is discarded immediately after the expiration lifetime. This type of cell has a high density and it gets discharged slowly also. Primary cells are called dry cells because there is no fluid present inside the primary cell. The chemical reactions performing on this cell are usually irreversible and the internal resistance of the primary cell is high.

The cost of primary cells is cheap and it is very easy to handle. For the primary cell, the irreversible chemical reactions happening on the cells are used for generating electrical energy. One of the very common examples of the primary cells is dry cells once the charge of them was over we might discard them. And compared to secondary cells, primary cells are discarded immediately after the use they create hazardous waste on the surface of Earth. They possess high pollutants and also the energy content of the primary cell is smaller so they are not environmentally friendly and wasteful batteries.

Another important factor that reduces the lifetime of a primary cell is polarization. That is the hydrogen gets accumulated on the cardboard of the cell and thereby reduces exam effectiveness. New methods are put forward in order to reduce the effect of polarization by the use of an oxidizing agent and by depolarizing the cell and also the byproduct produced after this is water. Some of the oxidizing agents used for these purposes are nitric acid and manganese dioxide.

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Secondary cell

As already mentioned they are not rechargeable cells and they cause low energy density. These cells are made up of molten salt and cells so they are not dry cells as well. The chemical reactions performing on secondary cells are reversible and the internal resistance of the secondary cell is low. It is a little bit complicated to use and the initial cost of the secondary cell is high in comparison to the primary cell.

For the secondary cell, the reversible reaction happening inside the cell is used for the conversion of chemical energy to electrical energy. One of the very common examples of the secondary cell is the battery used in the inverters and is a secondary cell so it is recharged by the application of electricity when the charge is over. The use of secondary cells is going on the increase due to the low pollutant rate and are environmentally benign.

Secondary cell

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NCERT Chemistry Notes:

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