Batteries have come a long way since their beginning back in 250BC.
Batteries are so ubiquitous today that they're almost invisible to us. Yet they are a remarkable invention with a long and storied history, and an equally exciting future.
A battery is essentially a device that stores chemical energy that is converted into electricity. Basically, batteries are small chemical reactors, with the reaction producingenergetic electrons, ready to flow through the external device.
Batteries have been with us for a long time. In 1938 the Director of the Baghdad Museum found what is now referred to as the "Baghdad Battery" in the basement of the museum. Analysis dated it at around 250BC and of Mesopotamian origin.
Controversy surrounds this earliest example of a battery but suggested uses include electroplating, pain relief or a religious tingle.
American scientist and inventorBenjamin Franklin first used the term "battery" in 1749 when he was doing experiments with electricity using a set of linked capacitors.
The first true battery was invented by the Italian physicistAlessandro Volta in 1800. Volta stacked discs of copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) separated by cloth soaked in salty water.
One of the most enduring batteries, the lead-acid battery, was invented in 1859 and is still the technology used to start most internal combustion engine cars today. It is the oldest example ofrechargeable battery.
Today batteries come in a range of sizes from large Megawatt sizes, which store the power from solar farms or substations to guarantee stable supply in entire villages or islands, down to tiny batteries like those used in electronic watches.
Batteries are based on different chemistries, which generate basic cell voltages typically in the 1.0 to 3.6 V range. The stacking of the cells in series increases the voltage, while their connection in parallel enhances the supply of current. This principle is used to add up to the required voltages and currents, all the way to the Megawatt sizes.
There is nowmuch anticipation thatbattery technology is about to take another leap with new models being developed with enough capacity to store the power generated with domestic solar or wind systems and then power a home at more convenient (generally night) time for a few days.
The most common primary battery is the zinc-carbon battery. It was found that when the electrolyte is an alkali, the batteries lasted much longer. These are the alkali batteries we buy from the supermarket.
In 1980, the American physicist Professor John Goodenough invented a new type of lithium battery in which the lithium (Li) could migrate through the battery from one electrode to the other as a Li+ ion.
But in the 1990s Goodenough again made a huge leap in battery technology by introducing a stable lithium-ion cathode based on lithium iron and phosphate.
Many new applications now exist for these new cells, from power tools to hybrid and electric vehicles. Perhaps the most important application will be the storage of domestic electric energy for households.
Have you ever really thought about the impact batteries have had on our outdoor lifestyle?
From flashlights to trolling motors, batteries allow us to enjoy more of the outdoors in different ways. There are already up to 20 hp electric motors for boats that can reach speeds up to 13 knots for about an hour and a half. And Evoy, an electric boat system manufacturer, claims to have electric systems of 150 hp currently, and up to 450 hp by 2025. Sure would make some days on the lake a little quieter.
On the flip side, batteries do require more attention and you have to keep them charged. I have always found the best way is to keep solar battery charger connected when not in use provides a steady slow charge to keep the batteries ready when you need them. There is nothing more frustrating than getting the boat or camper all loaded up and passengers on board, only to turn the key to find a dead battery!
From the Minn Kota website:
For boat owners imparticular, a really good idea is to connect a battery switch. Boats have a lot of “leaks” of power and a battery switch will cut all power drains and assure you that the battery will be charged and ready to go when you are.
I have been buying electric tools for some time, but this year I purchased my first electric leaf blower, and I have to tell you, it changed my life!
Regardless of how you feel about batteries, they HAVE had a significant impact on our way of life and continue to evolve, bigger and better, and I have a feeling, call me crazy, they are here to stay.