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Battery History

Alessandro VoltaAlessandro Volta in 1789 took a copper rod and a zinc rod and immersed them both in an acetic acid solution. He had just constructed the first battery cell with the first electrolyte. The copper and zinc rods were the electrodes, positive and negative. The acid started to eat away the zinc rod, while the copper rod captured the energy released from the action. A voltage developed between the two electrodes. Volta had invented the battery. The electrochemical principles that he discovered are still the foundation for the battery industry.

Seventy-nine years went by before George Leclanch developed a practical cell. He used manganese-dioxide powder as the positive electrode instead of copper; he kept the zinc. He used sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride) in water for his electrolyte. A porous cup held the powder which surrounded a carbon collector. Leclanch put the whole business, or the cell, into a glass jar and invented the first wet battery.

The first dry cell battery was manufactured in 1888 under the auspices of a Dr. Gassner. It was to become the prototype for the dry cell battery industry. Gassner used zinc to hold all of the components and kept zinc for the negative electrode as well. The electrolyte material was absorbed by a porous medium. He also added zinc chloride to the electrolyte, which cut back zinc corrosion when the cell was inactive. This was a big step for longer battery storage life. Now, for the first time a dry cell battery was a neat, tightly sealed package, almost ready for mass production. It didn't take long. Batteries were first mass-produced in 1890 by the National Carbon Company at their plant in Cleveland, Ohio. Later they became the industrial giant known as Union Carbide.

Between 1890 and the 1970's, dry cell batteries increased in popularity, but there were no significant changes in design. During the 1970's, battery technology began increasing rapidly, with new batteries and new ways of making the used batteries occurring regularly. Now, in addition to the standard dry cell batteries (Carbon Zinc and Zinc Chloride), the range of batteries also includesbattery, Lead acid battery

  • Alkaline batteries (standard and high-performance)
  • Lead-acid batteries
  • Lithium batteries (Lithium Manganese, Lithium Ion, and Lithium Ion Polymer)
  • Nickel-Cadmium batteries
  • Nickel Metal-hydride batteries
  • Silver-oxide batteries
  • Zinc-air batteries

Types of Batteries

All batteries can be described as either primary or secondary. Primary batteries are those batteries that are used only once and then discarded; they cannot be recharged. They have the dual advantages of having both a higher initial voltage and longer life than secondary batteries of the same size. Secondary batteries are the rechargeable batteries. While the initial voltage and battery life is less, they have the significant advantage of being reusable.

Primary battery construction ranges from the basic construction used in carbon zinc and zinc chloride batteries to the more complex construction of more powerful batteries such as alkaline and lithium manganese. Changes in the components and the construction allow for the improved battery life of alkaline and lithium batteries.

alkaline batteryIn alkaline batteries, the zinc anode is a zinc powder in the center of the can, surrounding a brass current collector. The electrolyte is potassium hydroxide, and the zinc and potassium hydroxide are combined in a gel. The manganese-dioxide cathode is contained between the can wall and the separator, which keeps the cathode and anode from direct contact. The can wall in alkalines is steel, rather than zinc.


Lead-acid-batteryLead Acid Battery cells consist of a Lead (Pb) electrode and a Lead oxide (PbO2) electrode immersed in a solution of water and sulfuric acid (H2SO4). When the battery is connected to a load, the Lead combines with the sulfuric acid to create Lead sulfate (PbSO4), and the Lead oxide combines with hydrogen and sulfuric acid to create Lead sulfate and water (H2O). As the battery discharges, the Lead sulfate builds up on the electrodes, and the water builds up in the sulfuric acid solution. When the battery is charged, the process reverses, with the Lead sulfate combining with water to build up Lead and Lead oxide on the electrodes.

Common examples of Lead acid batteries are car batteries, alarm system backup batteries, and camcorder batteries. Lead acid batteries should never be fully discharged; this will effectively kill the battery, making it impossible to charge.

Used Lead Acid Battery / Used Lead-Acid Batteries

When Lead Acid Battery used it will know as Used Lead Acid Battery and many batteries stock will known as Used Lead-Acid Batteries

Lead Acid Battery Characteristics

Type Secondary
Chemical Reaction (Charged = Discharged)
PbO2 + SO4 + 4H = PbSO4 + 2H2O
Operating Temperature -85º F to 149º F ( -65º C to 65º C)
Recommended for Camcorders, alarm systems, cellular telephones, and deer feeders.
Initial Voltage Varies
Capacity Varies
Discharge Rate Flat
Recharge Life -40º F to 149º F ( -65º C to 65º C)
Charging Temperature 50º F to 75º F (10º C to 24º C)
Storage Life No more than six months, varies by temperature (longer at non-freezing low temperatures, shorter at high temperatures).
Storage Temperature Maximum: -85º F to 149º F ( -65º C to 65º C)
Ideal: 50º F to 75º F (10º C to 24º C)

Lithium batteryLithium batteries have a lithium foil anode, a manganese dioxide cathode, and a lithium-based electrolyte. Lithium manganese batteries use a variety of shapes and constructions, with the most common being button cells, solid-core cylindrical batteries and wound-core cylindrical batteries

Nickel-cadmium batteryThe Nickel-cadmium battery uses nickel oxide in its positive electrode (cathode), a cadmium compound in its negative electrode (anode), and potassium hydroxide solution as its electrolyte. The Nickel Cadmium Battery is rechargeable, so it can cycle repeatedly. A nickel cadmium battery converts chemical energy to electrical energy upon discharge and converts electrical energy back to chemical energy upon recharge. In a fully discharged NiCd battery, the cathode contains nickel hydroxide [Ni(OH)2] and cadmium hydroxide [Cd(OH)2] in the anode. When the battery is charged, the chemical composition of the cathode is transformed and the nickel hydroxide changes to nickel oxyhydroxide [NiOOH]. In the anode, cadmium hydroxide is transformed to cadmium. As the battery is discharged, the process is reversed, as shown in the following formula.
Cd + 2H2O + 2NiOOH —> 2Ni(OH)2 + Cd(OH)2

Nickel cadmium is the most commonly used battery for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) missions. A spacecraft battery consists of series-connected cells, the number of which depends upon bus voltage requirements and output voltage of the individual cells.

The Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery was introduced as another option to the Nickel-Cadmium batteries. Like Ni-Cds, NiMH batteries are available in the standard cylindrical sizes (AA, AAA, etc.). They differ from Ni-Cds, however, in that they are capable of a higher capacity without developing what is often referred to as the Ni-Cd emory Issue.

The image to the left is a typical Nickel-Metal Hydride battery. You may note that the general construction is the same as for a Ni-Cd battery. The main difference between these two battery types is the substitution of a metal hydride instead of cadmium. Additional information and a more detailed cutaway view are available by clicking on the image.

Silver Oxide is the nickname for a silver oxide-alkaline-zinc primary battery. And it's nicely priced for the dependability and power it delivers.

The image to the left is a typical Silver Oxide round battery. Additional information and a more detailed cutaway view are available by clicking on the image.

Two types of Silver Oxide batteries are available, one type with a sodium hydroxide (NaOH) electrolyte and the other with a potassium hydroxide (KOH) electrolyte. Sodium hydroxide types last two to three years making them highly suitable for quartz analog digital watches or digital watches without backlights. Potassium hydroxide types are better for the short bursts of higher current drains that are required from LCD watches with backlights. Hearing aids and electronic measuring instruments also use batteries with a potassium hydroxide electrolyte in combination with a special separator to match the application.

The Silver Oxide battery has a higher closed circuit voltage than a Mercuric Oxide battery and a flatter discharge curve than the Alkaline Manganese Dioxide battery.

Zinc air batteries, Zinc air button cellZinc air batteries operate very similarly to other button-cell batteries, with the significant difference being that other button-cell batteries are entirely self-contained. In contrast, zinc air batteries require oxygen from the external atmosphere in order to operate. This saves space as well as eliminates the need for an internal, often toxic, material. Zinc air batteries are neither reactive nor flammable to a great degree. The disadvantage of zinc air batteries is that they must be sealed from the outside atmosphere prior to use in order to prevent the battery from self-discharging. This in turn Leads to a longer shelf life. The image at top left is a typical Zinc Air round batte




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