Geoblogi: Batteries within – Have you ever wondered what a battery looks like inside? We did!

Alan R. Butcher, Professor
Jukka Kuva, Research scientist

In the last few days, we have been imaging a number of devices with GTK’s X-ray tomography system in Espoo to gain an insight into how batteries are constructed.

Left: Non-rechargeable 1.5 V AA-battery. Right: Rechargeable 1.5 V AA-battery (1300 mAh).

It seems that, by viewing them virtually in 3D, there are no two batteries exactly the same. In fact, they are quite complicated in their construction, from one manufacturer to another.


Two off-brand rechargeable batteries with low capacity (600-800 mAh).

And we can see small, but nevertheless significant, differences between how a battery appears in a fully-charged state compared with when it is in a fully-discharged condition.


Left: Discharged rechargeable battery. Right: Fully charged rechargeable battery.

Why is this of interest to GTK? Well, as we embark on our newly-formed Battery Group research activities into the geology, mineralogy, mineral processing, material production and recycling aspects of batteries, we need to show how we fit into the overall ecosystem of activities in Finland and internationally.

9V battery, consisting really of six 1.5 V batteries in a series.

Even though we have started off imaging the final product, in the coming weeks we will be experimenting with analyzing the mineralogy and microtexture of ores in 3D, especially those containing cobalt-, nickel-, graphite-, and lithium-bearing minerals.

Given this new capability, we hope to provide direct insights into the properties of raw materials currently needed for battery manufacture, and even influence the design and functionality of the batteries of the future!

Alan R. Butcher

Teksti: Alan R. Butcher

Dr. Alan R. Butcher is Professor of Geomaterials and Applied Mineralogy at the GTK. He has over 35 years of experience in the measurement, analysis, and interpretation of rocks of commercial interest. His main focus at the moment is in the geometallurgical characterization of minerals used in the manufacture of batteries. His novel integrated approach uses multi-modal, multi-dimensional and multi-scalar technologies.

Jukka Kuva

Teksti: Jukka Kuva

Dr. Jukka Kuva is a research scientist at GTK. He is responsible for running and developing the X-ray tomography laboratory. He has 10 years of experience in studying geological materials and is constantly trying to expand the range of samples that can be proficiently imaged at GTK.