**Characteristics of Electric Cells**

Electric cells are unique in their function, offering a source of energy conversion that is indispensable in powering electrical circuits. Their characteristics are profoundly defined by the two core attributes: electromotive force (emf) and internal resistance.

Electric Cell Circuitshowing electromotive force (EMF) and internal resistance (r)

Image Courtesy Testbook

**Electromotive Force (emf)**

Emf is central to the operation of electric cells. It's the energy supplied by a cell or battery per coulomb of charge passing through it, indicative of the cell’s ability to drive electric current through a circuit.

#### Key Points

**Unit of Measurement:**Emf is measured in volts (V), aligning with the units of potential difference.**Energy Conversion:**It represents the transformation of chemical or other forms of energy into electrical energy within the cell.**Not a Force:**Interestingly, emf isn’t a force but a type of potential difference responsible for initiating the flow of current.

#### Energy Sources

**Chemical Cells:**These cells derive energy from chemical reactions occurring within.**Solar Cells:**Harnessing energy from sunlight, transforming light energy into electrical energy.

**Internal Resistance**

A often overlooked yet pivotal aspect of electric cells is internal resistance, denoted as *r*. This intrinsic resistance emanates from the opposition to current flow by the materials and chemicals constituting the cell.

#### Energy Dissipation

**Heat Generation:**Energy is inevitably lost as heat due to internal resistance, diminishing the cell’s overall efficiency.**Voltage Drop:**The emergence of a voltage drop within the cell, distinguishing the emf and the terminal voltage when the cell is delivering current.

**Formula for Total Emf**

Understanding the total emf is critical, especially when considering the cell's performance under load. The total emf is expressed mathematically as:

*ϵ *= *I*(*R*+*r*)

Where:

*ϵ*: Total emf*I*: Current (A)*R*: External resistance (Ω)*r*: Internal resistance (Ω)

Total Electromotive Force (EMF)

Image Courtesy Science Facts

**Implications and Applications**

The equation isn’t merely a mathematical expression but encapsulates the complex interaction between current, resistance, and emf.

**Current Dependency:**The effective emf is influenced by the current flowing through the circuit owing to internal resistance.**Engineering Applications:**This relationship is instrumental for engineers and physicists in optimising the performance and efficiency of electric cells and circuits.

**Effects of Internal Resistance**

**On Electric Cells**

The manifestations of internal resistance are multifaceted, extending their influence on the cell’s efficiency and operational capacity.

**Heat Generation:**Internal resistance is synonymous with heat generation, a form of energy loss that curtails the cell’s efficiency.**Voltage Reduction:**The menace of voltage drop is another byproduct, leading to a reduction in voltage accessible to the external circuit.**Capacity Implication:**High current draw scenarios unveil a reduction in the effective capacity of the cell.

**On Overall Circuit**

Beyond the cell, the overall circuit feels the ripple effects of internal resistance, influencing its design and performance.

**Power Loss:**A tangible manifestation is power loss, a factor that necessitates meticulous consideration during the design phase.**Component Selection:**The choice of specific components, including the cells, is often predicated on their internal resistance attributes to align with performance expectations.**Operational Efficiency:**For power-sensitive applications, like mobile devices, internal resistance can be a deciding factor in operational efficiency.

**Managing Internal Resistance**

Though intrinsic, strategies exist to mitigate the impacts of internal resistance, enhancing both cell and circuit performance.

**Cell Selection**

**Low Internal Resistance Cells:**These are often the preferred choice, engineered with materials and chemical compositions offering reduced internal resistance.**Optimal Operating Conditions:**Cells exhibit variable internal resistance under different conditions. Operating them within optimal temperature ranges, for instance, can mitigate internal resistance effects.

**Circuit Design Adaptations**

**Parallel Configurations:**A tactic often employed involves arranging cells in parallel, reducing the effective internal resistance of the source.**Component Compatibility:**Components that are efficient under diminished voltage scenarios can offset performance degradation due to internal resistance.

**Practical Insights**

The dialogue on internal resistance isn’t a theoretical indulgence but a practical necessity. It underscores not only the performance metrics of electric cells but extends its influence to the overarching efficiency and reliability of electrical circuits.

**Theoretical Underpinnings**

The mathematical expressions and theoretical constructs surrounding emf and internal resistance aren’t abstract concepts but tools that offer predictive insights into the behaviour of electric cells and circuits under varied conditions.

**Real-world Applications**

In the pragmatic world of electronics and electrical engineering, these concepts transition from theoretical constructs to practical tools. They guide the selection of electric cells, the design of circuits, and the prediction of their performance under different operational scenarios.

**Informed Decisions:**Engineers, armed with the knowledge of emf and internal resistance, can make informed decisions aligning the specifications of electric cells and accompanying components with expected performance and efficiency metrics.**Optimisation Strategies:**These insights also offer pathways to optimise the performance of existing systems, identifying and mitigating the impacts of internal resistance.

**Technological Innovations**

In the evolving landscape of technology, where the quest for efficiency and performance is incessant, the nuanced understanding of electric cells, emf, and internal resistance is instrumental. It is a knowledge bedrock that supports the innovation, design, and optimisation of a plethora of electrical and electronic systems, driving technological advancement in diverse fields.

The considerations of internal resistance and emf aren’t isolated to academic exploration but are intertwined with the practical realities of designing, operating, and optimising electrical and electronic systems. Every student venturing into the world of electronics or electrical engineering must grasp these concepts, as they are fundamental in both theoretical understanding and practical applications. The dynamics of internal resistance and emf are central to the performance metrics of not just electric cells, but the overarching operational efficiency of entire electrical circuits and systems.

## FAQ

Materials used in electric cells are pivotal in determining the internal resistance. Low internal resistance is often associated with cells made using highly conductive materials and efficient electrolytes. For instance, lithium-based cells are renowned for their low internal resistance, attributed to the conductive nature of lithium and its compounds. The design of the cell, including the thickness of the electrodes and the nature of the electrolyte, plays a significant role. A cell with thicker electrodes and a highly conductive electrolyte can often deliver lower internal resistance, leading to higher efficiency and less energy loss within the cell.

Yes, the internal resistance of a cell can be measured directly using a method involving the measurement of the open-circuit voltage and the voltage under load. The open-circuit voltage is the emf of the cell, measured when no current is flowing. The cell is then connected to a known resistance, and the voltage under load is measured. The drop in voltage, the known resistance, and the current flowing (calculated using Ohm’s law) are used to calculate the internal resistance. It's essential to ensure the cell is in a stable condition and not affected by factors like temperature variations during the measurement to get accurate results.

The internal resistance of rechargeable cells significantly affects their charging efficiency. A higher internal resistance means that a considerable portion of the energy being inputted during the charging process is lost as heat. This not only reduces the charging efficiency, making the process longer and less energy-efficient but also can lead to elevated temperatures within the cell. Increased temperatures during charging can potentially affect the lifespan and performance of rechargeable cells. Therefore, cells with lower internal resistance are often preferred for applications where rapid and efficient charging is a critical requirement.

Temperature plays a significant role in influencing the internal resistance of an electric cell. Generally, as the temperature increases, the internal resistance of a chemical cell also tends to increase. This is attributed to the enhanced kinetic energy of the particles within the cell, leading to increased collision frequency and resistance. This rise in internal resistance can lead to a reduction in the cell's efficiency, as more energy is lost as heat. Consequently, the terminal voltage of the cell drops, reducing the effective voltage available to the external circuit. This aspect is critical for applications where consistent performance is paramount, leading engineers to often consider the operating temperature when selecting and designing with electric cells.

Reducing the internal resistance of an existing electric cell is challenging because it is inherently determined by the cell’s materials and construction. However, maintaining optimal operating conditions can mitigate the effects of internal resistance. For instance, operating the cell at an optimal temperature can ensure that the internal resistance does not increase due to temperature extremes. Moreover, the usage of cells in optimal combinations, such as parallel configurations, can effectively reduce the total internal resistance of the battery source, although this doesn’t reduce the internal resistance of individual cells. Proper maintenance and ensuring the cells are adequately charged can also aid in maintaining consistent internal resistance levels.

## Practice Questions

The internal resistance of an electric cell causes a reduction in its efficiency due to energy losses as heat. This resistance leads to a voltage drop within the cell, meaning the terminal voltage is lower than the emf. For the overall circuit, this translates to reduced power output, necessitating considerations during the design and selection phase to mitigate performance impacts. Engineers often select cells and components that are efficient under reduced voltage scenarios or use parallel configurations to decrease effective internal resistance.

The terminal voltage can be calculated using the formula: Terminal Voltage = emf - I * r Where:

- emf is the electromotive force
- I is the current
- r is the internal resistance

Using Ohm’s law I = emf / (R + r), where R is the external resistance, we get I = 12V / (5Ω + 1Ω) = 2A. Substituting the current and internal resistance into the terminal voltage formula, we get Terminal Voltage = 12V - 2A * 1Ω = 10V.

The internal resistance of the cell impacts the terminal voltage available to the circuit. In this scenario, the 1Ω internal resistance causes a voltage drop of 2V when a current of 2A flows, resulting in a terminal voltage of 10V. The initial emf of 12V isn't fully utilised due to energy losses as heat within the cell caused by its internal resistance. Engineers and physicists must account for this voltage drop to ensure that electrical circuits deliver the expected performance and that the components connected to the cell operate efficiently under the actual terminal voltage.