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History of Battery

In the modern era, we get electrical energy from mechanical energy, solar energy, and chemical energy etc. by conversion. A battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Alessandro Volta developed the first battery in the year of 1800. In the year 1836, John Frederic Daniell, a British chemist developed the Daniell cell as an improved version of the voltaic cell. From that time till today, the battery has been a favourite source of electricity in our many daily life applications. In our daily life, we use two types of batteries. One is non-rechargeable, and we can use it before it gets discharged. A different kind of cell is rechargeable which means we can use it multiple times by recharging it externally. We call the former one as the primary battery and the later as the secondary battery.

We can find batteries in different sizes. A battery cell may be as small as a shirt button or may be so big that it requires a whole room to install a battery bank. With these variations of sizes, we use the battery from small wristwatches to a big ship.battery symbol We often see this symbol in many diagrams of electrical and electronics network. The big line represents positive terminal, and the small line represents negative terminal of the battery.

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History of Battery

We get often confused about the terms battery cell and battery. We refer a battery as a single electrochemical cell. But literally, the battery does not mean that. The battery is some electrochemical cells connected to meet specified voltage and current level. Although, there may be a single cell battery.

History of Battery

Parthian battery In the year of 1936 during the middle of summer, an ancient tomb was discovered during construction of a new railway line near Bagdad city in Iraq. The relics found in that tomb were about 2000 years old. Among these relics, there were some clay jars or vessels sealed at the top with the pitch. An iron rod, surrounded by a cylindrical tube made of a wrapped copper sheet was projected out from this sealed top. When discoverers filled these pots with an acidic liquid, they found a potential difference of around 2 volts between the iron and copper. These clay jars were suspected to be 2000-year-old battery cells. Luigi Galvani Experiment of Frog Leg In 1786, Luigi Galvani, an Italian anatomist and physiologist got surprised to see that when he touched a dead frog’s leg with two different metals, the muscles of the legs contracted. He could not understand the actual reason otherwise he would have been known as the first inventor of the battery cell. He thought that the reaction might be due to a property of the tissues. voltiac pile After that, Alessandro Volta realised the same phenomenon on cardboard soaked in salt water instead of frog's leg. He sandwiched a copper disc and a zinc disc with a piece of cardboard soaked in salt water in between them and found a potential difference between the copper and zinc. After that in 1800, he developed the first Voltaic Pile (battery) constructed of alternating copper and zinc discs with pieces of cardboard soaked in brine between them. This system could produce a measurable current. We consider Alessandro Volta's voltaic pile as the first "wet battery cell". Thus, the history of battery began. daniell cell The main problem with the Voltaic pile was that it could not deliver current for a long time. A British inventor John F. Daniell solved this problem in 1836. He invented a more developed version of the battery cell which is known as the Daniell cell. John F. Daniell immersed one zinc rod in zinc sulfate in one container, and one copper rod in copper (II) sulfate in another container. A U shaped salt bridge bridges the solutions of these two containers. A Daniell cell could produce 1.1 volts, and this type of battery lasted much longer than the Voltaic pile. In 1839, Sir William Robert Grove, a discoverer and man of science, designed the fuel cell. He mixed hydrogen and oxygen within an electrolyte solution and created electricity and water. The fuel cell did not deliver enough power, but it is helpful. Bunsen (1842) and Grove (1839) created enhancements to battery that used liquid electrodes to supply electricity. lead acid battery In the year of 1859, Gaston Plante; first developed the lead-acid battery cell. The lead-acid battery was the first form of rechargeable secondary battery. The lead-acid battery is still in use for many industrial purposes. It is still the most popular to be used as a car battery. In 1866, a French engineer, Georges Leclanche, developed a new kind of battery. It was a carbon-zinc wet cell battery known as the Leclanche cell. Crushed manganese dioxide mixed with a few carbons forms the positive electrode and a zinc rod forms as the negative electrode. He used ammonium chloride solution as a liquid electrolyte. After some years, Georges Leclanche himself improved his design by replacing liquid ammonium chloride solution with ammonium chloride. Hence, he invented the first dry cell. In 1901, Thomas Alva Edison discovered the alkaline accumulator. Thomas Edison's primary battery had iron as the anode material (-) and nickel oxide as the cathode material (+). The above content is just one portion of the endless history of the battery.

Step by Step Development in History of Batteries

Luigi GalvaniItaly1786Animal Electricity
Alessandro VoltaItaly1800Voltaic Pile
John F. DaniellBritain1836Daniell Cell
Sir William Robert GroveBritain1839Fuel Cell
Robert BunsenGerman1842used liquid electrodes to supply electricity
Gaston PlanteFrance1859Lead Acid Battery
Georges LeclancheFrance1866Leclanche Cell
Thomas Alva EdisonUnited States1901Alkaline Accumulator

CCHANDRAHAS BEHERA commented on 14/05/2018
A nice article of battery. I have lived in Baghdad for 7 years but never knew about the battery story there. Very informatic and knowledgeable.

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