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Effect of extreme temperature on battery life Featured science projectScience project video


How do batteries in exploratory equipment fair in extreme temperature conditions in outer space, or at the North Pole? This science fair project was conducted to study how extreme temperatures affect the performance of batteries. The experiment was done using Duracell, Energizer and Eveready AA-size batteries.


Batteries will supply power for a shorter length of time when temperatures fall.

Scientific Terms

Chemical energy, electrical energy, anode, cathode, electrolyte



Batteries operate by storing energy in the form of chemicals and converting them into electricity when the terminals are connected to a device. Batteries are available in many different voltages and sizes. They are also available as disposable batteries or rechargeable batteries.

Batteries are constructed with  a positive electrode called a cathode and a negative electrode called an anode. These two electrodes are not directly connected to each other but placed in a medium called an electrolyte. When the terminals of the electrodes are connected to a load or device, a chemical reaction will take place in the medium whereby the anode will "supply" electrons to the cathode. These electrons travel through the electrolyte.

The performance and life of the battery  is affected by temperature and humidity. Batteries produce electricity through chemical processes. When temperatures drop, the chemical reaction in the electrolyte will occur more slowly resulting in smaller currents produced. However, the battery will be able to last longer. In extremely cold conditions, the electrolyte might freeze over. Increasing the temperature will result in faster chemical reactions, but the battery will also run out of power faster.

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
2 hour to prepare, 1 day for observation
Material availability:
Easily found at a hobby store. Access to a laboratory is required
Safety concerns:

Proper precautions must be taken when handling dry ice.
1.    Avoid direct contact with skin or eyes. Wear a lab coat, goggles and thick gloves.
2.    Do not store dry ice in air tight containers.
3.    Perform experiment in a well ventilated area.