Energy can never be created or destroyed, it can only be transferred from one subject to another. This is a universal truth. The moment we humans understood this, a new branch of possibility opened up and that was storing the energy for future use.
The history of batteries goes back to 250 BC or maybe even further back. It wouldn’t be wrong to say the invention of batteries changed the entire course of human civilization.
In this blog, we will explore the timeline of batteries, from the earliest time to now.
In the western culture, the battery came in 250 BC. It is known as Baghdad Battery. In 1983, a group of archaeologists discovered a collection of terracotta jars in Khujut Rabu which is a village near Baghdad. The jars contained sheets of copper rolled up with an iron rod. Wilhelm König, one of the German archaeologists, discussed the possibility of this copper and iron combination as a form of galvanic cells used as a battery. When mixed with an acidic liquid, copper and iron can produce a chemical reaction that results in electricity.
However, if we see the Indian Sanatan texts, Rishi Agastya is considered the inventor of portable batteries.
Coming to modern time, the first successful attempt of developing a working battery was done by Alessandro Volta.
Although the Volta developed the first wet battery in 1800, the first successful attempt to transfer charge from one metal to another was done between 1786 to 1791.
1786: Electricity in Frog Legs
Luigi Galvani who was an Italian physicist was dissecting a frog. The frog was attached to a brass hook. When Luigi touched the frog with an iron scalpel, the leg of the frog twitched. He believed it was because of Animal Electricity. It was opposed by Volta who believed that this happened because of two dissimilar metals and a humid conductor.
Volta not only verified his observation via an experiment but also published his results in 1791.
1800: Voltaic Pile
After publishing his results, Volta developed the first wet cell battery. He combined two layers of metal, one copper and one zink. Both were separated by cardboard. This entire structure is now known as Voltaic Pile which was the first true battery of the modern world. It was capable of producing a stable and consistent current.
This battery was able to deliver power for just 1 hr.
One of its flaws was electrolyte leaks which cause short-circuits. Another problem was the formation of hydrogen bubbles on the copper, increasing the internal resistance of the battery.
1820: The Daniell Cell Battery
John Frederic Daniell who was a British chemist was able to overcome the limitation of the Voltaic Pile. He invented the Daniell Cell. He eliminated the formation of hydrogen bubbles by using a second electrolyte solution which was produced by the first conductor. Daniell used the copper sulfate immersed in an earthenware vessel. It was filled with zinc electrode and sulfuric acid. Since it was made out of porous material, the earthenware vessel allowed ions to pass through but prevented the solutions from mixing. Daniell also introduced mercury to further reduce corrosion. The Daniell Cell was able to produce 1.1 volts and this power was used to power communication devices.
1859: Lead Acid Batteries
All the batteries which were made before the invention of Lead Acids had a flaw. Once their chemical reactions were over, they will not be able to generate power. This issue was solved by Gaston Plante, who created the first rechargeable lead-acid batteries. He found that by passing a charging and discharging current in the cell, the battery was able to supply energy for a longer period of time.
Once the lead-acid battery was developed, a lot of people started working on them to further improve it.
Camille Alphonse Faure, a scientist, improved the lead-acid battery. Faure created a cell with a lead grid lattice into which he pressed the lead oxide paste. For better performance, various plate combinations were stacked in layers. The original lead-acid battery was made up of two lead sheets separated by rubber strips that formed a spiral. The earliest lead-acid batteries were used to power train carriage lights.
1866: A Carbon-Zinc Battery
A battery with a zinc anode and a manganese dioxide cathode wrapped inside a porous substance was designed by French scientist Georges Leclanché. The electrolyte in the cell was an ammonium chloride solution. This battery has a higher absorption rate and a longer shelf life thanks to the addition of carbon to the manganese dioxide cathode. Leclanché enhanced this battery by substituting a pastier electrolyte for the liquid electrolyte, resulting in the first dry cell battery. Its transportation was very easy and safe in comparison to the previous one.
1886: Carl Gassner’s Leclanche Cell
Carl Gassner, invented another version of The Leclanche Cell and also got its patient as well. Gassner created the ammonium chloride paste with Plaster of Paris and a small amount of zinc chloride in order to extend the battery’s shelf life. As a result, the battery was more durable and supplied 1.5 volts when fully charged. In 1887, Gassner received a US patent for this battery. Gassner’s concept cleared the door for the first mass-market battery that could power portable electronic gadgets.
1899: Nickel-Cadmium Battery
The first nickel-cadmium battery was invented by Swedish physicist Waldermar Jungner (NiCD). This was a rechargeable battery with nickel and cadmium electrodes that have been bathed in potassium hydroxide solution. It was the first battery to use an alkaline electrolyte, allowing it to produce more energy density than a lead-acid battery.
1903: The Edison Battery
Thomas Edison, a well-known American scientist, took up Jungner’s nickel-iron cell invention and developed a patentable version of it. Edison used an alkaline cell with an anode of iron and a cathode of nickel oxide. He also used potassium chloride as a conductor. The Edison battery was designed to serve automobiles at first. However, it was mostly used in the industrial and railroad markets, as it was powerful enough to withstand both overcharged and uncharged periods.
1955: Alkaline Batteries
Until the late 1950s, zinc-carbon batteries were the dominant source of energy. However, this battery type has a short shelf life and is readily depleted. The Eveready Battery Company tasked an engineer called Lewis Urry with finding a way to improve the life of zinc-carbon batteries. In comparison to zinc-carbon batteries, Urry discovered that using alkaline in the batteries provides more benefit, giving more energy at higher currents.
1912: Lithium and Lithium-Ion Batteries
Gilbert Newton Lewis was the first to experiment with lithium batteries, although the first lithium batteries did not become commercially available until the late twentieth century.
Three key advancements contributed to the development of these batteries:
- In 1980, John Goodenough’s discovered the LiCoO2 cathode.
- In 1982, Rachid Yazami discovered graphite anode.
- IN 1985, Asahi Chemical’s developed a rechargeable lithium battery prototype.
The lithium-ion battery was first commercialized by Sony in 1991.
Every day new innovation are being done in the battery industry to improve the power storage capability. At Inverted Energy, we are developing Lithium-Ion batteries not only for home power storage but also for the Automobile Sector.
We are going to start a knowledge series for anyone and everyone who wants to learn about the lithium-ion batteries. We will be explaining the technical as well as the commercial aspect of the lithium-ion batteries. So stay tune to Inverted Energy.