The Past, Present and Future of the Electric Battery Michael J Tripp English 1105 – Technical Communications
Evolution We use electric batteries every day of our lives. Starting in the 1700’s, the battery has been ever evolving as our requirements for power have evolved.
Past 1780 – Luigi Galvani discovers a way to create electricity using two different metals submerged in saltwater, but errs in his conclusions about the source of the current. 1800 – Allesandro Volta recreates Galvani’s experiment, but correctly concludes the current is produced by the corrosion of the 2 metals in close contact with each other.
Past 1859 – Gaston Plante develops the lead-acid battery. 1899 – WaldmarJungner develops the first nickel-cadmium (NiCad) battery. 1902 – Thomas Edison develops the alkaline storage battery.
Past 1949 – Lew Urry improves on the design, producing alkaline batteries that last five to eight times longer. 1989 – The nickel-metal-hydride (NiMh) battery is introduced, replacing NiCad in many applications. 1991 – Sony introduces the lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery, which evolved from non-rechargeable lithium batteries.
Present Lead-acid batteries are still used in automobiles today for starting, because of their quick recharge rate and ability to produce the high current needed for cranking the engine. NiCads are still used, but have a limited application due to their drawbacks. These include the “memory effect” and the weight of the batteries.
Present NiMh batteries are also still used in a limited capacity, but have mostly been replaced due to their weaknesses, which include memory effect, sensitivity to extreme temperatures, and a high self-discharge rate. Li-Ion is currently the rechargeable battery of choice for small electronics. They use lithium, which is the lightest metal and has the highest capacity to store energy for a given weight. They also have no memory effect.
Future: New Emerging Technology Carbon Nanotubes – “A form of pure carbon in which sheets of carbon atoms are rolled up into tiny tubes” (MIT). They significantly increase the amount of power the battery could deliver from a given weight.
Future Carbon nanotubes will also be used in digital memory technology, decreasing the power required to store and recall data. This memory is faster and will use 100 times less energy than current memory, therefore increasing battery life.
Future There have been many steps on our way to the perfect battery. The development and improvement of the battery as a safe, consistent and reusable source of power is significant to the growth of small electronic devices.
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