Batteries are electric cells that produce electricity from a chemical reaction and are found in many devices around us.
Benjamin Franklin coined the word “battery” in 1748, and in 1800, Italian inventor Alessandro Volta invented the first “wet cell battery” that worked.
English inventor John F. Daniell improved Volta’s invention in 1836, which could supply electricity longer and named it the “Daniell Cell”.
The Daniell Cell was used to power devices like the telegraph, telephone and doorbells and remained in use for over 100 years.
The fuel cell battery was invented in 1830 and between then and 1842 liquid electrodes was incorporated into the battery’s mechanism by Grover, and later Bunsen.
The French inventor Gaston Plante invented rechargeable batteries in 1859 and this type of battery is mostly used in cars today.
Thomas Alva Edison invented the alkaline storage battery in 1901, which changed the course of batteries.
The alkaline storage battery has iron as a negative (anode/-) charge and nickelic oxide as a positive (cathode/+) charge.
In the mid 1950s, Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller, and Daryl Chapin invented the first solar battery, which is able to convert sunlight into electricity.
There are essentially two types of batteries; primary cells (non-rechargeable) and secondary cell (rechargeable).
The most common are carbon-zinc, alkaline, lead acid, nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium and lithium ion.
The dry cell battery is perhaps one of the most common batteries used today. It can produce different amounts of power and are used for many things around the house.
At its centre is a metal rod called the cathode, which conducts the electricity. This cathode is surrounded by an electrolyte paste which is how the electrodes travel (they need a medium).
The battery is fired up when the electrical circuit is completed when the positive and negative terminals are connected. This triggers a chemical reaction.
This chemical reaction produces electricity equal to the ‘power/volt’ capacity of the battery.
Batteries found in cars are called lead-acid batteries. These are shaped like solid boxes, but inside there are many compartments.
Those used in laptops, cell phones and electric vehicles are called lithium ion cells. They have a mixture of carbon, graphite, and lithium oxide.
Both primary (disposable) and secondary (rechargeable) batteries have to be used with care, as they can explode or leak if not.
When they no longer work, disposing of them in environmentally friendly ways is also important for the very same reasons.
It is considered more affordable, convenient, and environmentally friendly, to use rechargeable batteries as they last longer and can be recycled better than primary ones