Why did Alkaline batteries work, but carbon battiers not work

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by MrSoftware, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. MrSoftware

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Oct 29, 2013
    This is a childhood memory from back in the 1980's so forgive me if I don't remember something correctly.. BUT, back then we had toy cars called Guzzlers (see video below) that required alkaline 9v batteries to work. My memory is that the cheaper general purpose (probably carbon) batteries did not work, alkaline was required or the cars wouldn't go. Now as an adult this doesn't make sense to me, but I have a clear childhood memory of buying the wrong batteries and having to go back to the store to buy alkalines. Is my memory wrong, or is there some logical reason that only alkaline batteries would work in a toy like this?

    The car was battery operated and to make the car go you had to pour some water into the "gas tank", it would then run for a short time as the water dripped into a storage tank. When all the water had dripped out the car would stop, similar to running out of gas, and you had to add more water. Periodically you had to pull the plug and empty the storage tank.

    FF the video to 30-seconds to see the Guzzlers:

  2. AnalogKid

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 1, 2013
    Higher terminal voltage, higher transient current capability...?
  3. jpanhalt


    Jan 18, 2008
    Alkaline is able to deliver more current than the earlier carbon/zinc chloride battery and lasts longer:

    And from Battery University:


  4. DickCappels


    Aug 21, 2008
    Adding to that when first connected to a motor that is not rotating, the higher output resistance of the carbon-zinc battery might have resulted in the voltage at the battery terminal dropping too low to run the motor.
  5. MrSoftware

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Oct 29, 2013
    Thanks guys, limited current capacity of the carbon/zink batteries might explain it. I didn't realize their output and capacity was so poor!