A photoflash battery is a specialized zinc-carbon battery optimized to provide a high electric current output for a short duration of time, such as required to fire a flashbulb. Service life for this battery in flashlight service was short, since flashlights required a lower but continuous long duration current.
Photoflash cells were in production during the flashbulb era, and were slowly phased out as alkaline cells came into general usage. The photoflash cell was produced as a 1.5 volt size D and size C cell.
The cathode (the material packed between the carbon rod and zinc shell) of a zinc-carbon cell is generally made of powdered carbon black (or acetylene black), manganese dioxide and electrolyte. The MnO2 to carbon ratios vary between 10:1 and 3:1 for general purpose cells. A 1:1 mixture was used for photoflash batteries. This allowed a high current output with intermittent use, perfect for photoflash use.These cells have reduced capacity compared to those with a higher content of MnO2.
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