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History of rechargeable (secondary) battery
History of Battery Development

History of rechargeable (secondary) battery

1859 - The lead-acid cell: the first rechargeable battery

Gaston Planté
Gaston Planté
In 1859、Gaston Planté invented the lead-acid battery、the first ever battery that could be recharged by passing a reverse current through it. A lead acid cell consists of a lead anode and a lead oxide cathode immersed in sulfuric acid. Both electrodes react with the acid to produce lead sulfate、but the reaction at the lead anode releases electrons whilst the reaction at the lead oxide consumes them、thus producing a current. These chemical reactions can be reversed by passing a reverse current through the battery、thereby recharging it.

Planté's first model consisted of two lead sheets separated by rubber strips and rolled into a spiral. His batteries were first used to power the lights in train carriages while stopped at a station. In 1881、Camille Alphonse Faure invented an improved version that consisted of a lead grid lattice into which a lead oxide paste was pressed、forming a plate. Multiple plates could be stacked for greater performance. This design was easier to mass-produce.

Compared to other batteries、Planté's was rather heavy and bulky for the amount of energy it could hold. However、it could produce remarkably large currents in surges. It also had very low internal resistance、meaning a single battery could be used to power multiple circuits.

The lead-acid battery is still used today in automobiles and other applications where weight isn't a big factor. The basic principle has not changed since 1859、though in the 1970s a variant was developed that used a gel electrolyte instead of a liquid (commonly known as a "gel cell")、allowing the battery to be used in different positions without failure or leakage.

1899 - The nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) battery: the first alkaline battery

Waldmar Jungner
Waldmar Jungner
In 1899、a Swedish scientist named Waldmar Jungner invented the nickel-cadmium battery、a rechargeable battery that had nickel and cadmium electrodes in a potassium hydroxide solution; the first battery to use an alkaline electrolyte. It was commercialized in Sweden in 1910 and reached the United States in 1946. The first models were robust and had significantly better energy density than lead-acid batteries、but were much more expensive.

 

 

Late 1980s - The nickel metal-hydride (Ni-MH) battery

Stanford R. Ovshinsky
Stanford R. Ovshinsky
Near the end of the 1980s、Stanford R. Ovshinsky invented the nickel metal hydride battery、a variant of the NiCad which replaced the cadmium electrode with one made of a hydrogen-absorbing alloy (most commonly a mixture of the rare earth metals such as lanthanum、cerium、neodymium and praseodymium). NiMH batteries tend to have longer lifespans than NiCad batteries (and their lifespans continue to increase as manufacturers experiment with new alloys) and、since cadmium is toxic、NiMH batteries are less damaging to the environment.

1970s and 1990s - The lithium and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries

Lithium is the metal with lowest density and has the greatest electrochemical potential and energy-to-weight ratio、so in theory it would be an ideal material with which to make batteries. Experimentation with lithium batteries began in 1912 under G.N. Lewis、and in the 1970s the first lithium batteries were sold.

John B. Goodenough
John B. Goodenough
In the 1980s、an American chemist John B. Goodenough lead a research team at Sony that would produce the lithium ion battery、a rechargeable and more stable version of the lithium battery; the first ones were sold in 1991.

In 1996、the lithium ion polymer battery was released. These batteries hold their electrolyte in a solid polymer composite instead of a liquid solvent、and the electrodes and separators are laminated to each other. The latter difference allows the battery to be encased in a flexible wrapping instead of a rigid metal casing、which means such batteries can be specifically shaped to fit a particular device. They also have a higher energy density than normal lithium ion batteries. These advantages have made it a choice battery for portable electronics such as mobile phones and PDAs、as they allow for more flexible and compact design.