Our entire modern world relies on battery power to support happy and healthy societies. Learn more about the past and future of battery technology to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of this technology.
The First Batteries
So who actually invented the first operable battery? That distinction belongs to the Italian physicist and father of modern electrochemistry: Alessandro Volta. By 1800, Volta had created a simple battery device known as the voltaic pile.
Remarkably, Volta’s battery is strikingly similar in design to modern batteries. The voltaic pile consists of separated, alternating silver and zinc disks. To ensure proper conductivity, a cloth soaked in brine and sodium hydroxide divides each disk. If you open up a modern cell battery, you’ll discover a similar configuration of metal disks!
However, Volta’s revolutionary invention was only the first stepping stone to creating modern electrochemistry. In 1834, British physicist and chemist Michael Faraday used the voltaic pile in numerous experiments to form the laws of electrochemistry, electrolysis, and induction. Faraday’s laws are the basis for all modern battery technologies!
For example, French physicist Gaston Planté created the first lead-acid cell battery in 1859, predominantly using Faraday’s laws of electrochemistry for assistance. However, the ultimate battery innovation occurred between 1895 and 1905 with the introduction of alkaline electrolyte batteries. These power sources were incredibly suitable for commercial applications and provided superior currents for various electrical systems.
Modern-day batteries are mostly improved versions of original designs. For example, many top battery manufacturers focus on scaling down batteries’ size while increasing their performance capabilities rather than creating groundbreaking and new forms of energy storage.
However, a few modern innovations differ significantly from the alkaline electrolyte batteries of the past. First and foremost, lithium-ion batteries provide higher power densities, faster charging cycles, and longer lifespans than traditional battery options. Additionally, lithium-ion polymer batteries are a superior power source for RC vehicles, thanks to their incredibly lightweight design. This unique application is one of the several things you should know about lithium-ion polymer batteries.
Potential Future Advancements
So what does the future of battery technology entail for standard consumers? Innovations will mainly occur in the automotive industry as car manufacturers race to improve their electric vehicle products. For example, many automakers are currently looking for an invention that replaces liquid and gel battery designs with a more dependable, solid-state configuration. Solid-state batteries feature rapid-charging capabilities and ideal longevity characteristics for long-distance travel. However, this technology is quite new and not widely commercially available.
Other fascinating battery technology advancements on the horizon include sustainable sodium-ion batteries and more affordable lithium-ion products!
The past and future of battery technology are undeniably interesting. More important, however, is how this information highlights just how important battery power is for modern societies. Thankfully, the performance and longevity of these devices will continue to improve through technological breakthroughs and advancements!