BU-301a: Types of Battery Cells

Compare the pros and cons of the cylindrical cell, button cell, prismatic cell and pouch

Early batteries were in jars, but mass production changed the packaging to the cylindrical design. The year 1896 pioneered the large F cell for lanterns; the D cell followed in 1898, the C cell in 1900, and the popular AA was introduced in 1907. [BU-301: A look at Old and New Battery Packaging] Design criteria and cost considerations required new battery formats that offer distinct advantages over the cylindrical design.

Cylindrical Cell

The cylindrical cell continues to be one of the most widely used packaging styles for primary and secondary batteries. The advantages are ease of manufacture and good mechanical stability. The tubular cylinder has the ability to withstand internal pressures without deforming. Figure 1 shows a cross section of a cell.

Cross section of a lithium-ion cylindrical cell





Figure 1: Cross section of a
lithium-ion cylindrical cell

The cylindrical cell design has good cycling ability, offers a long calendar life, is economical but is heavy and has low packaging density due to space cavities.

Courtesy of Sanyo

Typical applications for the cylindrical cell are power tools, medical instruments and laptops. Nickel-cadmium offers the largest variety of cell choices, and some popular formats have spilled over to nickel-metal-hydride. To allow variations within a given size, manufacturers use fractural cell length, such as half and three-quarter formats.

The established standards for nickel-based batteries did not catch on with lithium-ion and the chemistry has established its own formats. One of the most popular cell packages is the 18650, as illustrated in Figure 2. Eighteen denotes the diameter and 65 is the length of the cell in millimeters. The Li-manganese version 18650 has a capacity of 1,200–1,500mAh; the Li-cobalt version is 2,400–3,000mAh. The larger 26650 cells have a diameter of 26mm with a length of 65mm and deliver about 3,200mAh in the manganese version. This cell format is used in power tools and some hybrid vehicles.

Popular 18650 lithium-ion cell


Figure 2: Popular 18650 lithium-ion cell

The metallic cylinder measure 18mm in diameter and 65mm the length. The larger 26650 cell measures 26mm in diameter. 

Courtesy of Cadex

Lead acid batteries come in flooded and dry formats; portable versions are packaged in a prismatic design resembling a rectangular box made of plastic. Some lead acid systems also use the cylindrical design by adapting the winding technique, and the Hawker Cyclone is in this format. It offers improved cell stability, higher discharge currents and better temperature stability than the conventional prismatic design.

Cylindrical cells include a venting mechanism that releases excess gases when pressure builds up. The more simplistic design utilizes a membrane seal that ruptures under high pressure. Leakage and subsequent dry-out may occur when the membrane breaks. The re-sealable vents with a spring-loaded valve are the preferred design. Cylindrical cells make inefficient use of space, but the air cavities that result with side-by-side placement can be used for air-cooling.

Button Cell

Smaller devices required a more compact cell design, and in the 1980s the button cell met this need. The desired voltage was achieved by stacking the cells into a tube. Early cordless telephones, medical devices and security wands at airports used these batteries.

Although small and inexpensive to build, the stacked button cell fell out of favor, and newer designs reverted to more conventional battery configurations. A drawback of the button cell is swelling if charged too rapidly. Button cells have no safety vent and can only be charged at a 10- to 16-hour charge. However, newer designs claim rapid charge capability. Most button cells in use today are non-rechargeable and can be found in medical implants, watches, hearing aids, car keys and memory backup. Figure 3 illustrates the button cells with accompanying cross section.

Button cells

Button cells part 2

Figure 3: Button cells
Button cells, also known as coin cells, offer small size and ease of stacking but do not allow fast charging. Most commercial button cells are non-rechargeable.

Courtesy of Sanyo and Panasonic

Prismatic Cell

Introduced in the early 1990s, the prismatic cell satisfies the demand for thinner sizes and lower manufacturing costs. Wrapped in elegant packages resembling a box of chewing gum or a small chocolate bar, prismatic cells make optimal use of space by using the layered approach. These cells are predominantly found in mobile phones with lithium-ion. No universal format exists and each manufacturer designs its own. If the housing design allows a few millimeters extra in a cell phone or laptop, the manufacturer designs a new pack for the sake of higher capacity. High volume justifies this move.

Prismatic cells are also making critical inroads into larger formats. Packaged inwelded aluminum housings, the cells deliver capacities of 20 to 30Ah and are primarily used for electric powertrains in hybrid and electric vehicles. Figure 4shows the prismatic cell.

Cross section of a prismatic cell


Figure 4: Cross section
of a prismatic cell

The prismatic cell improves space utilization and allows flexible design but it can be more expensive to manufacture, less efficient in thermal management and have a shorter cycle life than the cylindrical design.

Courtesy of Polystor Corporation


The prismatic cell requires a slightly thicker wall size to compensate for the decreased mechanical stability from the cylindrical design, resulting in a small capacity drop. Optimizing use of space makes up this loss. Prismatic cells for portable devices range from 400mAh to 2,000mAh.

Pouch Cell

In 1995, the pouch cell surprised the battery world with a radical new design. Rather than using a metallic cylinder and glass-to-metal electrical feed-through for insulation, conductive foil tabs welded to the electrode and sealed to the pouch carry the positive and negative terminals to the outside. Figure 5 illustrates such a pouch cell.

The pouch cell

Figure 5: The pouch cell

The pouch cell offers a simple, flexible and lightweight solution to battery design. Exposure to high humidity and hot temperature can shorten service life.

Courtesy of Cadex

The pouch cell makes the most efficient use of space and achieves a 90 to 95 percent packaging efficiency, the highest among battery packs. Eliminating the metal enclosure reduces weight but the cell needs some alternative support in the battery compartment. The pouch pack finds applications in consumer, military, as well as automotive applications. No standardized pouch cells exist; each manufacturer builds the cells for a specific application.

Pouch packs are commonly Li-polymer. Its specific energy is often lower and the cell is less durable than Li-ion in the cylindrical package. Swelling or bulging as a result of gas generation during charge and discharge is a concern. Battery manufacturers insist that these batteries do not generate excess gases that can lead to swelling. Nevertheless, excess swelling can occur and most is due to faulty manufacturing, and not misuse. Some dealers have failures due to swelling of as much as three percent on certain batches. The pressure from swelling can crack a battery cover, and in some cases break the display and electronic circuit board. Manufacturers say that an inflated cell is safe. While this may be true, do not puncture a swollen cell in close proximity to heat or fire; the escaping gases can ignite. Figure 6 shows a swelled pouch cell.

Swelling pouch cell


Figure 6: Swelling pouch cell

Swelling can occur as part of gas generation. Battery manufacturers are at odds why this happens. A 5mm (0.2”) battery in a hard shell can grow to 8mm (0.3”), more in a foil package.

Courtesy of Cadex

To prevent swelling, the manufacturer adds excess film to create a “gas bag” outside the cell. During the first charge, gases escape into the gasbag, which is then cut off and the pack resealed as part of the finishing process. Expect some swelling on subsequent charges; 8 to 10 percent over 500 cycles is normal. Provision must be made in the battery compartment to allow for expansion. It is best not to stack pouch cells but to lay them flat side by side. Prevent sharp edges that could stress the pouch cell as they expand.

Summary of Packaging Advantages and Disadvantages


On May 1, 2011 at 11:30am
Steve Arey wrote:

Can the prismatic pouch pack be recycled?
Do you sell these?

On September 26, 2011 at 9:35am
Bill wrote:

Do you know 2-3 most common pouch cell material suppliers?

On November 14, 2011 at 12:20pm
Frank John wrote:

Dear Sales,
We come across your email and we want to know if you can supply
us these items 12Volt 100Ah to 200Ah Sealed lead battery Battery
Specifications * Voltage: 12 Volt * Capacity Ampere Hours:100 (@20hr rate) *
Dimensions (L x W x H): 12.01” X 6.60” X 9.25” or more * Weight: 65 pounds
or more * 12 months of complete warranty and 48 months of pro-rated warranty
* Non Hazardous battery.

Let us know if you can supply us within 5 business day for delivery.
And more also specify the type Credit cards you will be needed for the
payment .

Your response is most important to us.

Thank you.

Frank John
0943 W. Tennessee Street
Tallahassee,Florida 5530

On November 22, 2011 at 6:43am
tonyzhou wrote:

Dear friends,

I owe your name to network resourse,from which we learnt that you might need battery and charger.
this is Tony from WaMa battery,our company manufacture battery (full capacity) and charger for 10 years.
wish to be able to service you

NI-MH battery
CR123A RCR123A
18650 battery series
Li-ion button   cell
Button battery(AG,CR,SR)
Prismatic&Polymer; Batteries
Alkaline battery(23A,27A,4LR44)
Solar mobile phone charger
Wind power mobile phone charger
Portable power mobile phone charger

Your OEM and ODM are available
the products have passed ISO, UL,SGS,CE,ROHS certification
Thank you &king; regards
Email:  zrqtmds@yahoo.com
Skype:  zrqtmds

On December 20, 2011 at 10:36am
Donald Nelson wrote:

Good Day Sir/Ma…..Please i will like to know if you have 100 or 200Ah Sealed lead battery 12 Volt….Non Hazardous battery.

If so…Kindly Quote me the Price per battery

Donald Nelson
Donald Enterprise
3117 West-Side Dr
Durant Oklahoma
74701 USA

On February 2, 2012 at 12:17pm
Ming Lai wrote:

I have a dead NiCad battery pack of 6.2 volt, one of the cell is only showing 43mV while the other four shows 1.2 volt. it measures ~1.325"x0.9” for each cell. Would some body kindly tell me what size of NiCad battery that is? So that I can order a replacement pack??
Thanks. (Please send me email on this, thanks)

On March 15, 2012 at 12:42am
peter wrote:

Dear Sir,
Good day!
This is Peter from Changzhou Yufeng Electrical Co., Ltd which specialized in producing 3V lithium button-cell.

As to our company ,a brief introduction for your check.
1. Professional Li-MnO2 button cell battery manufacturer since 2000 in China.
2. With over 30 million batteries produced per month and 18 most advanced production lines here, we have taken up 1/3 of the domestic market.
3.We have more than 8 years experience serving abroad customers in North America and Europe.
4.We have got Certificate of RoHS,UL,UN 38.3 for our products.

I enclosed our products spec,pls check it.
For more information,pls contact me directly.
Looking forward to your feedback.

Best regards
Changzhou Yu Feng Electrical Co.,Ltd.
Zhuxiashu Industrial Park, Xilin, Zhonglou District, Changzhou, Jiangsu,China
Tel: 0086-519-85019892/85019872
Fax: 0086-519-85019899 

On June 6, 2012 at 6:11pm
sunnyzeng wrote:


we specialized in produce li-ion and liPo batteries. All required battery cells or battery packs are ok for us. If interested,please see my contact details as below:

On June 6, 2012 at 6:16pm
sunnyzeng wrote:

by the way, our company website is

On September 20, 2013 at 8:23pm
Sunny Hu wrote:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Here is Guangzhou TianQiu Enterprise Co., Ltd, producing and exporting batteries (D, C, AA, AAA, 9V heavy duty, alkaline, lithium button cell, Ni-Cd/MH rechargeable battery, etc.). We are agent manufacturer of Japan’s brand “MITSUBISHI” and our own brand “TIANQIU”- a top 10 most competitive battery brand in China, passed CE, SGS, ISO9001:2000 certificate.

Looking forward to working with you.

Best wishes,
Sunny Hu
Guangzhou Tianqiu Enterprise Co., Ltd
Add:  9/F, TianQiu Building, No 16-30,He Yi Rd, SanYuan Li Ave,GuangZhou,China 510410
Web: www.gztianqiu.com
Email: sales7@gztianqiu.com
Tel:+86-20-3632 2277 ex 239
Mobile: +86-136 3210 1612

On January 7, 2014 at 10:28am
Sagar Ganu wrote:

Please let know the standard formula used to calculate 9AH battery’s charging time.

On February 27, 2014 at 4:09am
harry potter wrote:

do you use skype? If yes we can also discuss there. -  It would be awsome if a discussion of e.g. batteries could be done between different scientist via skype or something else, so that everyone get soon help…
i just want to ask something about that battery and explain me how to make it in russia\
harry potter movies in order

On February 27, 2014 at 4:10am
harry potter wrote:

do you use skype? If yes we can also discuss there. -  It would be awsome if a discussion of e.g. batteries could be done between different scientist via skype or something else, so that everyone get soon help…
i just want to ask something about that battery and explain me how to make it in russia\
harry potter movies in order
thank you

On September 9, 2014 at 11:56pm
Mir wrote:

I am in need of battery with following specifications. If you can help me, i will be very much obliged.
1. 28v output voltage
2. minimum 6ah capacity
3. must be parallel/series combination of li-ion cells
4. weight<1000g
5. rechargeable
6. lifetime > 1.5 year
waiting for your reply !

On November 6, 2014 at 7:52am
Hassan Shabbir wrote:

      I am Hassan Shabbir a Sales Engineer in a Germany. I am working for a company that develops, manufactures and sells Lithium ion batteries and Fuel cells. Our company offers the client specifically adapted solutions for the electricity supply of his products.
If someone interested than kindly contact me on my given address. I shall be very thankfull to you.

Best Regards:
Hassan Shabbir
Sales Engineer
BE-POWER GmbH, Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 64 04 -2 05 15-23

On December 5, 2014 at 3:21pm
David R wrote:

Dear Mir,
GlobTek is a world class manufacturer of Li-Ion battery packs and chargers, including a large range of IEC62133, UL 1642 and 2054 certified solutions. We Manufacture battery packs for Medical, Telecom, and mobile device applications for worldwide Fortune 500 companies as well as small manufacturers. Please contact one of our offices nearest to your location. Our website is www.globtek.com


On January 17, 2015 at 5:45am
M.Mariasudagar wrote:

i like to know about batteries, because i do simulation work in ECE/POWER ELECTRONICS. Anybody provide a corresponding job for a nominal payment.