Batteries are ubiquitous to our lives and can be found in everything from remote controls and smoke detectors to cell phones and digital cameras. Even our vehicles rely on batteries to start. Without the humble battery, where would we be? Maybe it’s better if we never found out.
A battery changes chemical energy into electricity by bringing the different chemicals together in a specific order. When correctly ordered, the electrons will travel from one substance to another, creating an electrical current.
Long Road of the Battery
While battery manufacturing for everyday personal use developed in the last 50-60 years, archaeologists found evidence of a device that may have been used to electroplate gold onto silver, much like a battery would. In 1936, during the construction of a new railway near Baghdad, a Parthian tomb was found. Archaeologist Wilhelm Konig found a clay jar containing a copper cylinder encasing an iron rod. Konig suggested the find to be approximately 2,000 years old.
Benjamin Franklin first coined the term “battery” in 1748 to describe an array of charged glass plates.
In 1800, Italian scientist Alessandro Volta layered silver, cloth, or paper soaked in salt or acid and zinc into what he called “voltaic piles.” The voltaic piles generated a limited electrical current. Volta proceeded to publish his work, and we get the word “volt” from his name to describe electric potential.
William Cruickshank, an English chemist, designed a battery for mass production in 1802.
Corrosion in batteries has always been an issue, but until John Daniell came along, it was much worse. Daniel, a chemist, receives credit for developing a way to reduce corrosion when storing batteries. In 1820 he invented the Daniell Cell, which incorporated mercury, reducing the corrosion.
Over time, various scientists and inventors developed gradual improvements to the battery. Then in 1896, the National Carbon Company (later known as the Eveready Battery Company) manufactured the first commercially available battery called the Columbia. Two years later, National Carbon Company introduced the first D sized battery for the first flashlight.
The 1900s and beyond
Until 1957, watches needed to be wound routinely to keep time. Then in 1957, the Hamilton Watch Company introduced the first battery-operated watch.
Today batteries are available for numerous purposes. In our modern age, portable electricity isn’t something we think about every day because it is so easily accessible. We charge the batteries on our phones by using the batteries in our cars as we travel down the road. We even have portable chargers that can charge our batteries where ever we are. The variety of batteries change every day.