A battery is an amazing piece of technology that is used by many of the devices that we regularly use. Therefore, our lives are connected and powered by them similar to the way they are connected in circuits. An electric battery can contain one or more electrochemical cells that generate power from the reactions between the battery cathode and anode, which is used to provide power to electrical devices through external connections. These devices can be flashlights, laptops, electric cars, or smartphones. These batteries provide electrical energy through chemical reactions rather than any mechanical motion as in an electrical generator.
The passage of electricity in a battery is done by the movement of electrons from one terminal to the other. This motion of electrons is called electricity in a circuit. The negative terminal, or the anode of the cell, is the source of electrons from where these particles travel to the positive terminal of the cell, known as the cathode. The electric device that needs to be powered up is connected between these two terminals. Batteries come in a number of shapes and sizes, and different devices can require different sorts of batteries with various amount of cells present.
This fascinating invention has several unheard but interesting facts that one should know.
1. The first battery was invented in 1798
Although the usage of batteries is found from the time of Benjamin Franklin, it was Alessandro Volta who built the first electrochemical battery in 1798. It was called the voltaic pile and could continuously provide an electric current to a circuit. His model was a stack of copper and zinc plates, separated by brine-soaked paper disks. Alessandro Volta thought at that time that it is an inexhaustible source of energy and the corrosion effects were an anomaly, rather than a part of the electrochemical reactions in the cell that was later showed by Michael Faraday in 1834.
2. Archaeologists suspect that batteries were present in ancient times
Although there is no certain proof of it, some archaeologists believe that batteries were in use from a much earlier age than it is generally recorded. In 1938, a discovery was made in Iraq of a 5-inch ceramic pottery jar that contained a tube of copper with a rod of iron. The general opinion was that the pot was used for storage purposes. Then, in 1938, he suggested that the people belonging to the age of these artifacts might have used them as a galvanic cell for electroplating gold onto silver objects. However, the origin and purpose of the object remain unclear as there is no evidence supporting any argument.
3. Three billion batteries are purchased by Americans every year
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that each year, Americans throw away more than three billion batteries. That’s about 180,000 tons of batteries. More than 86,000 tons of these are single-use alkaline batteries. If these dead alkaline batteries were to be lined up with one’s end meeting the other, it is believed that only one year of these thrown away batteries can circle the Earth at least six times. About 14,000 tons of rechargeable batteries are thrown away in the United States.
The high amount of wastage of alkaline batteries can sufficiently bring damage to the environment as the battery contains harmful materials and toxins, which can leak into the environment once it is crushed.
4. Ben Franklin was the first to use the term “battery” in electricity
In 1749, Benjamin Franklin first used the term “battery” to describe a set of linked capacitors or Leyden jars he used for his experiments with electricity. The jars were actually panels of glass coated with metal on each surface. These capacitors were charged with a static generator and discharged by touching metal to their electrode. When many of these capacitors would come together in a ‘battery’, it would give a bigger discharge. Originally having the generic meaning of “a group of two or more similar objects functioning together” like in an artillery battery, the term came to be used for voltaic piles and similar devices in which many electrochemical cells were connected together in the manner of Franklin’s capacitors.
5. The first rechargeable batteries came in 1859
The first rechargeable battery was a lead-acid battery, which was invented by Gaston Plante, and it could be recharged by passing a reverse current through it. Plante’s first model of the rechargeable consisted of two lead sheets separated by rubber strips and rolled into a spiral. In 1881, an improved version was invented by Camille Alphonse Faure with a lead grid lattice into which a paste of lead oxide was pressed. This model was easier for mass production of batteries and, compared to Plante’s designs, this was more convenient to use due to its lighter weight. Then, gradually, rechargeable batteries kept developing.
6. Eveready invented the flashlight
The famous brand for batteries and electrical equipment, Eveready Battery dates back to two centuries ago. It was a pioneer in the industry even then and Conrad Hubert, the founder of Eveready batteries, invented the first flashlight in 1898. It is also known as the electric hand torch. Moreover, Eveready was the first brand to introduce the D-size batteries for the first handheld flashlight.
7. The first miniature batteries were introduced in the 1950s
The first miniature batteries were not manufactured until the 1950s, which were also introduced by Eveready Battery in 1955. These batteries were designed for hearing aids. Later in 1956, Eveready produced the first 9-volt battery. This battery is commonly used in smoke detectors today. The most common use of miniature batteries is probably in wristwatches, which were developed and introduced in 1957 also by the Eveready Battery Company.
8. They have long lives even when expired
A battery is not a product that should be tossed away once it is past its expiry date, like milk and other products. The expiry dates simply indicate the time until the batteries will work at their best, but batteries have long lives even after that.