In the case of an EMP blast, most electrical devices will be destroyed, although devices that are not actually powered will most likely survive. On the other hand, everything connected to the power grid will be destroyed or damaged. For the most part, batteries will not be affected by an EMP as long as they are not connected to an electrical device.
No, an EMP will not affect batteries, most batteries will survive an EMP as they are built like a Faraday cage, however, what could potentially damage them is the electrical device to which they are connected. Remove the batteries from all of your electrical devices, this way you will limit the potential harm from an EMP. In addition to this even if your batteries are not connected to any electrical device but are in contact with a conductive surface such as a metal table, this could also destroy your batteries.
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As you already probably know that EMP destroys electrical devices, although some batteries might still be affected not all of them will be destroyed. The major difference between having your batteries destroyed by an EMP or not is if it is or not in an electrical device. If the battery is inside an electrical device giving it power while the EMP blast hits it, not only the electrical device will be destroyed but so will be the battery. In my recent article Best bug out vehicle for EMP ( Top 26 ), where I analyze both new and older models of vehicles and I have come to the conclusion that although older vehicles do still have batteries these will not be affected, while modern vehicles with dozens of senores will be disabled by the EMP.
In addition to this, the type of battery will also determine if it gets damaged by the EMP blast or not. Currently, there are 2 types of batteries on the market which you can easily find, primary batteries and secondary batteries. The primary and secondary batteries function differently from one another and their manufacturing process is also different. One common thread among all batteries is that these deliver Direct Current and not Alternating Current.
Direct Current means that the battery has one positive and one negative charged side, all batteries have the “+” for positive charge and “-” for the negative charge. This ensures the user uses the battery correctly, if the battery is inserted the wrong way it will not work. Alternating Current is when the charges alternate such as in your wall socket, alternating between the positive and negative charges in a fraction of a second.
Your major concern in case of an EMP blast should be the safe keeping of your electrical devices, without these, there is no point in having your batteries. EMP blasts can be man-made and naturally occurring, man-made with nuclear weapons, and naturally occurring such as solar flares. In my article How to protect yourself from solar flares ( Cheap & Easy ), I address several ways on how can you protect your items from solar flares or from an EMP blast.
What battery components would survive an EMP blast?
- Cathode: provides the positive charge
- Anode: provides the negative charge
- Electrolytes: which actually makes the battery function
The reason why batteries will survive an EMP blast if they are not in function is because of how they are built, batteries are basically Faraday cages. Batteries need to function as a Faraday cage in order to be able to supply energy and also to contain the energy within them.
How does an EMP affect primary batteries?
Primary batteries are batteries that cannot be recharged, the reason for this is how they are manufactured to function. Primary batteries should have no problem in surviving an EMP blast, just keep in mind that no matter what type of battery, if it is connected to an electrical device it will be damaged and unusable. There are some situations when you can not remove the battery from an electrical device to protect it against the EMP, such as in the case of a Pacemaker, batteries for microchips, and so on.
Although if you do have a Peacemaker, this will most likely be damaged in an EMP blast so the survival of the battery is probably the last thing on your mind. The most common primary batteries are alkaline, these are usually used in remote controls, smoke detectors, and other electrical devices which do not need a lot of power. If you are wondering if you can survive a nuclear blast in a fridge then check out my recent article Can you survive a nuclear bomb in a fridge? ( Fact or Fiction? ).
How does an EMP affect secondary batteries?
Secondary batteries are batteries that you can recharge, usually these are used in electrical devices that need a lot of power thus using a primary battery would not be efficient. One of the major problems with secondary batteries in case of an EMP attack is that these rechargeable batteries are almost always connected to an electrical device. These are usually used in mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and even cars, as there is a constant need to supply the electrical device with energy these batteries are usually incorporated in the electrical device itself.
In case of an EMP, the electrical device along with the secondary batteries will be damaged, unless you can take the battery out before the EMP blast. Although this is easier said than done as removing a rechargeable battery usually you will need special screwdriver heads and a lot of patience.
Secondary batteries are of 4 types, and the major differences between them are the manufacturing process and their chemical composition.
- Nickel-Metal Hydride
- Nickel Cadmium
How does an EMP affect lead-acid batteries?
Lead-acid batteries are heavy-duty batteries, used in cars, generators, solar energy storage, and so on. Lead-Acid batteries are one of the oldest types of batteries used even to this day, mainly because of their high power input and affordability. As it is in the case of all secondary batteries, Lead-Acid batteries are also usually connected to the device which they are powering, although not in all cases. In case of an EMP blast, Lead-Acid batteries should be able to survive, especially if you manage to unhook them from the electrical device.
One major benefit of having these batteries even if the power grid has been destroyed by the EMP blast is that you can virtually power almost any device with it. Although you need to make sure to store them correctly, these batteries are filled with acid which during higher temperatures could corrode the weaker points of the batteries’ housing. An EMP attack is highly probably during a WW 3 scenario, for more information check out my recent article What would happen if World War 3 started? ( Top 8 Predictions ).
How does an EMP affect lithium-ion batteries?
These are also known as Li-ion batteries and they are usually used to provide power to handheld devices. If you have a smartphone chances are that it is powered by a Li-ion battery, these are considered one of the safest rechargeable batteries on the market currently. However, in case of an EMP blast, they are unlikely to survive, even if they do survive you will find that you can in most cases only power handheld electrical devices that are made to function specifically with Li-Ion batteries.
How does an EMP affect nickel-metal hydride batteries?
Nickel-Metal Hydride is also called Ni-MH batteries, these are basically the same as Nickel Cadmium except instead of Cadmium Metal Hydride is used. Ni-MH batteries have almost the same power output as Li-Ion batteries and these are usually used in handheld HAM radios, tactical flashlights, and portable DVD Players among other electrical devices. In the case of an EMP blast, Ni-MH batteries should have no problems provided they are not connected to the electrical device.
How does an EMP affect nickel-cadmium batteries?
Nickel-cadmium batteries are also known as NiCd rechargeable batteries, these are excellent in holding power for a long time while it is not connected to the electrical device. However, these are not the most reliable types of batteries as they tend to have a “memory” effect which makes the batteries lifespan shorter with each recharge. NiCd batteries will be able to withstand an EMP blast, although their limited lifespan if charged frequently will kill these batteries eventually. If you are worried about an EMP attack due to war then check out my recent article How to prepare for war as a civilian? ( In 8 Steps ).
How to protect batteries against an EMP blast
The number one factor if your batteries will be affected by an EMP or not is if they are connected to an electrical device which they power. If this is the case in addition to the electrical device being destroyed so will be the battery, as the battery is connected to the electrical device it will make a closed circuit and this will affect all electrical components including the battery. In addition to taking out the battery from the electrical device, you can also put them in a Faraday cage for extra safety.
There are a lot of Faraday boxes, cages, bags on the market usually these are fairly cheap and reliable. Although you can also make an improvised version of the Faraday cage with an empty metal box, line it with something nonconductive like plastic or cardboard then put your batteries inside. If you want to be extra cautious make sure that the batteries do not touch each other, wrap them individually in duct tape and then put them in your Faraday cage or box.
Some batteries will be affected by an EMP, not due to their design but because they are in contact with the electrical device. If unused and stored correctly most batteries will have no problems surviving an EMP, this also includes batteries for cars and generators. Keep in mind that you should also protect your electrical devices in addition to your batteries, there is no point in protecting your batteries while your electrical devices for which you would have used them are destroyed.