The Term “Battery”
At one time, the term “battery” denoted anything like an artillery battery, which consisted of “similar things” that were put together in order to accomplish a certain task. Benjamin Franklin used the phrase in 1749 to describe a chain of capacitors he had connected together for his electrical experiments. Franklin is credited with coining the term. In the future, the phrase would be used in reference to any electrochemical cells joined together for the purpose of generating electric power.
When the battery was invented
Luigi Galvani, an Italian physicist, physician, biologist, and philosopher, was dissecting a frog with a metal hook in 1780 when something terrible happened. The frog’s leg twitched when he tapped it with an iron scalpel. Alessandro Volta, a colleague of Galvani’s, disagreed with his theory that the energy emanated from the leg.
It was Volta’s theory that the frog was truly experiencing leg impulses induced by various metals in liquid. Instead of a frog body, he used brine-soaked fabric in the second experiment, and the voltage was the same. In 1791, Volta published his results and in 1800, he constructed the voltaic pile, the first battery.
As Volta’s pile became heavier, its electrolyte began to seep out of its fabric, and its chemical qualities led to an extremely limited life expectancy for its parts (about an hour). For the following two centuries, Volta’s design would be refined and these problems would be addressed.
The Voltaic Pile has been fixed.
It was William Cruickshank of Scotland who came up with the “trough battery” solution to his leaking problem by placing the voltaic pile on its side.
In addition to zinc breakdown owing to impurities and hydrogen bubble accumulation on the copper, the limited lifespan was also a result of these issues. William Sturgeon made the discovery in 1835 that treating zinc with mercury would keep it from oxidizing.
The copper cathode was kept clean by John Frederic Daniell, a British scientist, by using a second electrolyte that interacted with the hydrogen. “Daniell cells,” as they came to be called, were a popular method of producing electricity for the telegraph networks of the early 19th century.
Batteries that can be recharged
Physicist Gaston Planté constructed a battery in 1859 by immersing two sheets of lead in sulfuric acid and rolling them into cylinders. A rechargeable battery was created by reversing the flow of electricity through the battery and allowing the chemistry to return to its original condition.
Camille Alphonse Faure added to Planté’s concept in 1881 by shaping the lead sheets into plates. The lead-acid battery was widely used in autos as a result of this revolutionary design.
It’s a dry cell.
The electrolyte in batteries was in a liquid form until the late 1800s. Batteries had to be transported with great care, and most were never meant to be moved once linked to the circuit.
With a zinc anode, manganese dioxide cathode, and ammonium chloride electrolyte, Georges Leclanché developed a battery in 1866. A key step in developing a dry cell was the discovery of the battery’s chemistry while the electrolyte in the Leclanché cell was still a liquid.
A paste made from ammonium chloride and Plaster of Paris was discovered by Carl Gassner. 1886 saw the German patenting of the novel “dry cell” battery.
Dry cells are known as “zinc-carbon batteries” were mass-produced and popular until the late 1950s. The zinc-carbon battery uses carbon as an electrical conductor, despite the fact that it is not employed in the chemical process.
Following Waldemar Jungner’s battery chemistry, Union Carbide (later Energizer) replaced the ammonium chloride electrolyte with an alkaline material in the 1950s, based on Lewis Urry and Paul Marsal’s work. When it came to capacity and shelf-life, alkaline dry cell batteries were superior to zinc-carbon batteries of the same size.
In the 1960s, alkaline batteries became popular, eventually displacing zinc-carbon batteries as the most common main cell in consumer electronics.
20th-Century Battery Recharging
For use in communication satellites, COMSAT created the nickel-hydrogen battery in the 1970s. Hydrogen is stored in compressed gas form in these batteries. Even the International Space Station still relies on batteries constructed of nickel-hydrogen alloy.
Several businesses have been working on the development of the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery since the late 1960s. In 1989, NiMH batteries were introduced to the consumer market, and they were a smaller, cheaper alternative to rechargeable nickel-hydrogen cells that had previously been available.
In 1985, Japan’s Asahi Chemical constructed the world’s first lithium-ion battery, and in 1991, Sony did the same with a commercially available lithium-ion cell. The “lithium polymer” or “LiPo” battery was invented in the late 1990s as a soft, flexible housing for lithium-ion batteries.
Clearly, a large number of battery chemistries have been developed, produced, and then rendered obsolete. Check out our tutorial on Battery Technologies for additional information on current, widely used battery technologies.
An anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte are the three essential components of a battery. If the electrolyte is insufficient, a separator is typically utilized to keep the anode and cathode apart. Batteries often have a protective case in order to keep these components safe.
The anode and the cathode are both examples of electrodes in electrochemistry. Electrodes are the conduits via which electricity enters or exits a component in a circuit.
Electrons flow out of the anode of a device linked to a circuit as a result. An anode receives “current” from the outside world.
The anode of a battery is filled with electrons due to the chemical interaction between the anode and the electrolyte. The electrolyte or separator prevents these electrons from making their way to the cathode.
Cathode When a device is linked to a circuit, electrons flow into the cathode. Cathodes discharge “conventional current” into the environment.
Electrons generated at the anode are used in a chemical reaction in the cathode. In order for the cathode to receive electrons, a circuit must be established outside of the battery.
The electrolyte transports ions between the anode and cathode by means of a liquid or gel that is capable of doing so. Because the electrolyte acts as a barrier between the anode and cathode, electrons are less likely to flow through the electrolyte and more likely to flow outside.
A battery’s electrolyte is critical to its functionality. Electronics must travel via a circuit made of electrical conductors in order to link the anode and cathode since electrons cannot flow through it.
To avoid a battery short, separators keep the anode and cathode from coming into contact with each other. You may use a wide range of materials to make separators: Cotton and polyester are two of the most common. The anode, cathode, or electrolyte have no chemical reaction with the separators.
The electrolyte contains ions that can be positively or negatively charged, as well as vary in size. Some ions can flow through standard separators, but not others.
Casing Chemical components in batteries typically require a container to keep them contained. An “enclosure,” often referred to as a “shell,” is a mechanical framework that protects the battery’s interior components from the elements.
Plastic, steel, soft polymer laminate pouches, and so on may all be used to make battery cases. It is possible to connect a conductive steel shell to an electrode in some batteries. The cathode is attached to the steel shell of the typical AA alkaline battery.
Generally, a battery’s operation necessitates a number of chemical processes. Both the anode and/or cathode are involved in at least one or more processes. There are two types of reactions in electrochemistry: oxidation at the anode, which creates additional electrons, and reduction at the cathode, which makes use of these surplus electrons.
In essence, we are breaking down a certain type of chemical process, known as a reduction-oxidation reaction or redox reaction, into two distinct components. When an electron is moved from one chemical to another, a redox reaction occurs. To power our circuit, we may use the movement of electrons in this process.
Oxidation of an anode
Between the anode and the electrolyte, oxidation is the initial step in the redox process, resulting in the production of electrons (marked as e-).
Some oxidation processes, such as in a lithium-ion battery, create ions. In alkaline batteries, for example, the process consumes ions. In either situation, the electrolyte allows ions to move freely but not electrons.
Reduced Cathode Voltage
Reduced redox reactions take place at the cathode, where the other half of the reaction takes place. Reduction consumes the electrons created in the oxidation process.
Lithium ions created during the oxidation reaction are used during the reduction process in lithium-ion batteries, for example. The reduction process can also yield negatively charged ions, as in alkaline batteries.
Flow of Electrons
Even when the battery is not linked to a circuit, some or all of the chemical processes can take place. These responses can affect the battery’s lifespan.
When an electrically conductive circuit is established between the anode and cathode, the reactions will be at their most potent. The more electrons permitted to flow, the faster the chemical reactions occur when the resistance between the anode and cathode is reduced.
In order to do something helpful, we can transport these electrons via various electrical components, or “loads,” as they are called. The moving electrons in the motion graphic at the outset of this section are illuminating a virtual light bulb.
The problem is that the battery is dead.
The battery’s chemical composition will eventually stabilize. The chemicals will no longer react, and the battery will stop generating electric current when it reaches this condition. A “dead” battery is now regarded to be in this state.
Whenever a battery’s primary cells are no longer usable, they must be disposed of. Recharging secondary cells is as simple as running a reverse electric current through the battery and into the secondary cell. In order to return to their original condition, the chemicals must undergo a sequence of reactions.
When discussing a battery’s voltage, capacity, current sourcing capabilities, and other characteristics, a standard vocabulary of terminology is frequently employed.
In order to generate voltage and current, a cell consists of a single anode and a cathode separated by an electrolyte. One or more cells can make up a battery. AA batteries, for example, each contain one cell. Each of the six cells in a car battery has a voltage of 2.1 V.
The chemistry of primary cells cannot be reversed. As a result, when the battery runs out, it has to be thrown away.
Rechargeable secondary cells can have their chemistry restored to their original form through this process. Batteries that can be recharged several times are known as “rechargeable cells.”
The battery’s specified voltage is known as the nominal voltage.
In the case of alkaline AA batteries, for example, 1.5 V is indicated on the battery’s label. These alkaline batteries were tested by Mad Scientist Hut and found to have a starting voltage of 1.55 V. The battery’s maximum or beginning voltage is shown by the “1.5 V” nominal voltage in this example.
Starting at roughly 4.2 V and gradually decreasing to around 2.8 V, this quadcopter battery pack illustrates the discharging curve of its LiPo cells. Most lithium-ion and LiPo batteries have a nominal voltage of 3.7 V. Nominal voltage in this example refer to the average battery voltage across its discharge cycle, which is 3.7 volts.
Depending on the voltage, a battery’s capacity may tell you how much power it can store. Batteries can be rated in ampere-hours (Ah) or milliamp-hours (mAh) (mAh).
This PowerStream battery test shows how a battery’s voltage changes as a function of its capacity. When determining whether or not a battery can power your circuit, determine the lowest permissible voltage and the accompanying mAh or Ah rating.
Several batteries, particularly strong lithium-ion batteries, express discharge current as “C-Rate” to better identify battery properties. C-Rate is the percentage of the battery’s full capacity that is being discharged at any one time.
It takes 1 hour to drain a battery of 1C of electricity. There are several ways to measure current, but the most common is to use milliamperes (mA). Using the same battery, 5C would draw 2A from the battery.
At greater current demands, most batteries lose their capacity. There is a correlation between greater C-rates and a lower mAh capacity for the LiPo cells from Charger.
Consumption of a single cell phone
There are several circuits that can be powered by just one battery if you make sure the battery has enough voltage and current.
A DC/DC converter will be necessary if the voltage is either too high or too low for your circuit.
A battery’s terminals can be increased in voltage by connecting the cells in series. The anode of one cell is connected to the cathode of the next in a series.
In series-connected batteries, the voltage is increased. The operational voltage is calculated by adding the voltages of all the cells. The storage capacity remains unaltered.
Alkaline batteries are often used in consumer devices and are typically layered one on top of the other. The nominal voltage of a project may be raised to 3 V using a device like this 2xAA battery holder.
Remember to use a “balancer” while charging lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries in series in order to maintain uniform voltage across the cells. Balancers are included in certain chargers, such as this one.
Add batteries in parallel to enhance capacity if the voltage of a single cell is sufficient. Be aware that this also entails a rise in the amount of current that may be used (C-Rate).
When connecting multiple batteries in series, exercise caution. The nominal voltage and the charge level of each cell should be the same. Short circuits can lead to overheating and even fire if there are any voltage discrepancies.
Parallel and series
Combine series and parallel batteries to boost the voltage and capacity of your battery system. To avoid a short circuit, make sure the voltage levels of the batteries in parallel are the same.
‘S’ and ‘P,’ which stand for series and parallel, are commonly used to indicate the design of big battery packs, particularly lithium-ion ones. The above circuit is set up as a 2S2P. Modern electric automobiles, for example, require enormous battery arrays coupled in series and parallel.
Commitment to Extending Our Reach
You should now be able to explain to someone else how batteries function and how they were developed. Using batteries to power your project is one option, and they may be really beneficial if you require a portable source of electricity.
Other battery-related lessons may be found at the following link:
- In this case, the battery company is Battery Technologies.
- What it Takes to Keep a Project Moving
What is a circuit?
Do you want to see how batteries work? Take a look at the following examples of battery-powered devices: