The History Of Rechargeable Batteries
Rechargeable batteries play a key role in modern living. Most people don’t know they actually came into existence in the nineteenth century.
The lead-acid battery, invented in 1859 by Gaston Planté, was found to be rechargeable by pushing a reverse current through it. The battery was so named because its cathode and anode were both made of lead, and surrounded by sulphuric acid. It was able to pass a current when the anode released electrons and the lead dioxide consumed them. Planté’s battery was heavy and clumsy, compared to other batteries at the time. It was, however, capable of producing large amounts of current in surges. The very low internal resistance meant one battery could power multiple circuits at one time.
The first model of the battery was two lead sheets kept apart by rubber strips and then shaped into a spiral. The batteries were first put to use powering the lights in train cars while not in motion. In the early 1880s, Camille Alphonse Faure came up with a better version that was a lead grid lattice with lead oxide paste pressed into it. This configuration formed a plate and multiple plates could be stacked for more efficient performance. This also allowed for easy mass-production.
The basic idea of the lead-acid battery has changed little since 1859 and is in use today in cars and other situations where weight doesn’t matter. The 1970s brought the development of gel electrolyte as a substitute for liquid, called a gell cell. This frees the battery to be used in non-upright positions without leaking or failing.
Modern batteries are identified as primary if they work only until their power is exhausted, and secondary if the cell can be recharged. The lead-acid battery was the first secondary cell.
The mid-1990s brought a new kind of secondary cell, the lithium ion polymer battery, into the spotlight. What made this type of battery unique was its ruggedness and ability to be adapted into different shapes. The battery has continued to evolve and is found in many common devices today, such as cellular phones and music players.