The invention of the battery is the work of Alessandro Volta who successfully generated an electric current from chemical reactions of metals that were not similar.
Benjamin Franklin however, coined the term “battery” in 1748 after he put together a collection of charged glass plates.
The battery saw much advancement since then. Initially it was carbon-zinc, then lead-acid, lead oxides, and nickel-iron.
Solar cells or solar batteries were introduced in 1956 and the technology continues to improve to today.
The latest is called nanotechnology where scientists have designed carbon nanotubes of power. These are twice as powerful as normal batteries.
Some of the famous battery brands today are ‘Energizer’, ‘Duracell’, and ‘Eveready’.
Batteries come in many sizes and in basically two shapes, the long cylindrical shape and the flat pancake shape.
Batteries help power everything from watches, MP3 players, handheld computers, digital cameras, portable radios, walkie-talkies, boom boxes, toys, and many more.
So how do batteries really work? They are little energy reserves that are able to convert a chemical reaction into an electrical energy.
A battery has seven components; the container, the Cathode, the Separator, the Anode, Electrodes, Electrolyte, and the Collector.
The container is the outer most covering that we see which has the name and details of the battery. The Cathode is kept inside of it.
The electrochemical reaction happens inside the Cathode. The electrodes that remain as a result of this reaction are called cathodes.
The Separator is a fibrous fabric that separates the electrodes (cathodes). The Anode is the powered zinc metal further inside, which are electrodes that are oxidized.
The electrochemical reaction happens inside the electrodes, and the electrolyte is a mixture of water and potassium hydroxide.
This mixture is where ions from inside the cell move and what carries the ionic current within the battery.
The Collector is the brass pin that runs through the middle of the battery cell, which conducts electricity to the outside.
The battery gets charged or produces a current when it is inserted into a device to trigger the chemical reaction. This completes the electrical circuit of + (positive) and - (negative).
The very first batteries that were made could not be recharged. This meant that once the battery’s energy has been spent, the battery needed to be disposed of.
Rechargeable batteries are those where the chemical reaction can be reversed through electrical energy to bring the battery to the way it was at the beginning.
Laptop, cell phone, and certain appliances have rechargeable batteries that can be used for a long time.
However, no battery, even the rechargeable ones last forever. Eventually they die. This is because the chemicals inside them lose their power with regular use.
When throwing batteries away, it is important to do so carefully as the chemicals inside them are dangerous to humans, animals and the environment.