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Whether making an electric car from an existing fueled vehicle or developing a new model, the batteries of electric cars should have the following characteristics:
1) Store as much energy as possible in a given volume to achieve a long operating range.
2) Have the lowest weight possible to reduce the load on the drive system.
3) Recharge rapidly and easily.
4) Perform well through many charge/discharge cycles over the life of the vehicle.

For an amateur builder converting a standard internal combustion gasoline-powered automobile, nickel-zinc batteries may offer attractive features.They are less expensive than lithium-ion batteries of comparable size. Their energy density is about 70 watt-hours per kilogram, compared to 150 or more for Lithium-ion. On the other hand they are easier to charge, accepting either a constant voltage charging system or a constant current charge, with little overcharge required.The metals used in the nickel-zinc battery do not present a hazardous waste disposal problem when the battery needs to be replaced, and there is no lithium present that could cause a fire in case of an accident.

See the PowerGenix Company for more information on nickel-zinc batteries.

The race is on to bring an electric auto to market

The automobile manufacturers realize that the time to develop an electric automobile is now. Ecological pressure is on to move away from hydrocarbon-fueled vehicles including bio-diesel and methanol derived from the fermentation of grain or bio mass. Although the latter fuels may be considered renewable resources, they still produce carbon dioxide when burned, contributing to global warming. Electric vehicles may be charged using energy produced by hydro-electric and wind power or other sources of non-polluting electricity such as thermal power and wave and tidal power from the oceans.

In searching for the best batteries to store energy to drive these vehicles, car makers want to provide a long range of operation between recharges. The goal is to store many kilowatt-hours of energy in the smallest, lightest, and least costly package.It is necessary to store about 35 kilowatt hours in a battery to drive a small car for more than 100 miles. Lithium-ion batteries have been chosen by most auto makers for their vehicles, except in the case of hybrid vehicles, where there is an internal combustion engine to supply long distance driving energy. In hybrid vehicles such as those made by Hyundai Motors, a smaller lithium polymer battery supplies about 1.5 kilowatt-hours, sufficient to drive the car for only a limited number of miles, but it is backed up by an efficient 2.4-liter gasoline engine. The Hyundai Sonata hybrid was announced at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show in November, 2008.

Comparison of battery types

Four figures help choose which battery type is best for a given application: The energy/weight ratio, the energy/volume ratio, the power to weight ratio, and the cost in watt-hours per dollar. In comparison to the common lead-acid battery, which is probably the least desirable to run an electric vehicle, the numbers are

Battery
Type
Energy/weight
Watt-hours/Kg
Energy/volume
watt-hours/L
Power/weight
watt/Kg
Energy/US$
watt-hr/$
Lead-acid 30-40 60-75 180 4-10
NIckel-Zinc 60-70 170 900 2-3
Lithium-Ion 160 270 1800 3-5
Lithium-Polymer 130-200 300 to 2800 3-5

Two other values should also be considered, the self-discharge rate, which causes the charge to diminish over time, and the cycle life of the batteries, the number of times the batteries can undergo a deep discharge and still accept charge. The batteries listed above perform well in those categories.

New partnerships announced

Beginning in the fall of 2008 and continuing into 2009, many companies announced partnerships to develop electric automobiles.Some of these are listed below.
Hyundai (Korea) and LG Chem (Korea) for development of a lithium polymer battery to power hybrids and electric vehicles.

Hyundai (Korea) and the California Fuel Cell Partnership (since 2000)
Hyundai (korea) and Chevron Corp. and UTC Power — fleet vehicle testing program (2004)

BMW Group (Europe) launches the MINI E with 204-HP Li-Ion Battery Pack (battery manufacturer and controller not specified, but probably Johnson Controls-Saft(US-France). Battery consists of 5,088 cells grouped into 48 modules, supplying a nominal 380 volts d-c.) Announced in Oct. 2008.

General Motors, Vauxhall, Samsung, and Bosch

Ford Motor Co. and Johnson Controls-Saft (joint US-France venture) for a plug-in hybrid auto in 2012 and an all-electric small car in 2011.

Johnson Controls-Saft and Maxwell Technologies for a process to coat lithium electrodes for lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles.

General Motors and LG Chem (Korea) for the batteries for the GM Volt.

Toyota (Japan) and Pansonic EV (Japan) for hybrid batteries

Ford Motor Co. and Magna International (Canada)
Ford Motor Co. and California Edison
Ford Motor Co. and Changan Auto Group (China)
Ford Motor Co. and Tanfield (UK)

Mitsubishi Motors (Japan) and Pacific Gas And Electric

Tesla Motors (US) and Daimler AG

Better Place Mobility Group (Palo Alto, CA – includes Renault and Nissan), with Province of Ontario (Canada),Bullfrog Power(Canada) and Macquarie Group (Canada, banking)
Better Place Mobility Group with State of California, Israel, Denmark and Australia

LG Chem (Korea) and ST Microelectronics for a battery management package to balance up to 1600 volts worth of cells

Nissan (Japan) and NEC (Japan) to form Automotive Energy Supply Corporation making Lithium-ion batteries

A plug-in doesn’t mean a free fill-up

Some of the price you used to pay at the pump will be reflected in your electric utility bill if you plug in your new eletric car to recharge it at home. Consider that a small car like the MINI E from the BMW Group will need about 30 kilowatt-hours of electricity to go 150 miles (240 km).Depending on the electricity rates where you live, which may vary from 7 to 18 cents per kilowatt-hour, this may cost between $2.10 to $5.40. Although this comparesfavorably with about $9 spent at the gas pump for an equivalent trip, the cost may change when a way is found to add in what used to be collected as a gas tax at the pumps.Do you have any idea how much it costs annually to mow the grass on a section of the Interstate, or light a traffic interchange for a year? Right now, electricity costs are high in the Northeast United States and California,but low where there is an abundant supply of hydro-electric power. However this may change when the utilities find that it is necessary to rebuild their power grids to handle the increased demands of charging electric vehicles.

Here are some related articles on other pages of the All About Batteries web site:
Lithium-Metal-Polymer batteries for electric vehicles
Maxwell Technologies Ultracapacitors for ultracapacitors to provide long cycle life and high peak currents in fuel-cell, hybrid, and electric cars.
Zinc-Air batteries for electric vehicles.

The growth in some countries is even faster

Sales of primary and secondary batteries are expected to rise through 2010 to $73.6 billion. Gains in China will exceed any other national market because of healthy economic growth and industrialization efforts. China will surpass the U.S. to become the largest battery market in the world.

Sales increases for these and other countries are published in a study “World Batteries” The report, or sections of it, may be purchased from
The Freedonia Group, Cleveland OH .

The study also focuses on specialty rechargeable batteries such as lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries, with their growth rates outlined in the various countries.

The market demand for batteries in the U.S. will approach $15 billion in 2011

The US demand is forecast to increase 4.3 percent annually through 2011 to $14.9 billion. Cellular telephones and other devices that require increased performance with reduced battery size are pushing the mix toward more expensive battteries. These and other trends are presented in “US Batteries”, a new study from the Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.

Battery materials

Another report covers the increasing demand for materials used in the production of batteries and fuel cells. The market for materials will rise by an extimated 4.4 percent per year to $3.8 billion in 2011.

The title of the report is “Battery & Fuel Cell Materials” , also available from the Freedonia Group.

Batteries in China

Finally, for information on the growing markets for batteries in China, and the increase in battery manufacture in China, we recommend the report “Batteries in China”.

Lithium-metal-polymer batteries have been developed for a number of applications including electric vehicle propulsion systems and batteries to power telecommunications installations. Because there is no liquid or paste electrolyte, they are maintenance free. They have service lives as long as 10 years, under ambient temperatures from -40°C to +65°C.

One company that pioneered the devleopment of thin-film lithium-metal-polymer batteries has since been merged into the Bolloré Group in France. The former company was Avestor, Boucherville, Québec, Canada. one of their reprints is still available: Designing Lithium-Metal-Polymer Batteries for Safety

As announced by IPS Batteries a new thin-film construction for Lithium-metal-polymer batteries allows the batteries to be embedded in printed circuit boards or integrated circuit chips. The batteries are postage-stamp size and about 1/10 mm thick, and contain “micro-energy cells”.

The batteries demonstrate near zero self-discharge. The micro-energy cells are “ideally suited for use with all forms of energy harvesting techniques for recharging, such as solar, thermal, RF, magnetic and vibration energy.”
Other battery applications suitable for automobiles:
Electric Cars

Zinc-Air batteries for electric vehicles

It makes sense to use alkaline batteries

Alkaline batteries have long shelf lives and they do not suffer the ‘memory effects’ of Nickel-cadmium batteries. The term ‘Memory effects’ refers to the batteries becoming weaker with continued use, particularly when the batteries have seen light use and do not respond well to further charging. The problem stems from low battery currents which flow from only a small part of the active anode area of the battery. If higher current had been drawn or if the battery had been completely discharged, the whole active area of the anode would have been involved. The unused area essentially ‘films over’ and acts as a barrier to current flow. Further charging does not restore the active area.

Alkaline batteries do not self-discharge. This is a chemical change causing the electrodes to degenerate in Nickel-metal hydride and Nickel-cadmium batteries. It is reversible by charging and discharging several times. Batteries that are not recharged before use will not supply the full amount of stored energy. None of the above happens with common Alkaline batteries. The rate of self discharge in Nickel-cadmium is about 2% per week, in Nickel-metal hydride it is about 3% per week. At temperatures higher than room temperature, these rates increase.

What about alkaline batteries designed to be recharged?

Paradoxically, these higher-priced specialty batteries, known as RAM batteries, or Rechargeable Alkaline Manganese, are not rated highly in technical reports. Some trade magazines list them as rechargeable for only 25 to 30 times at the most. They are not satisfactory when used in high-drain applications such as digital cameras, as the voltage supplied by the battery drops low in response to high current demands. One battery sales representative referred to RAM batteries as being ‘soft’ batteries. (His company did not make RAM batteries at the time, and still does not.)

How difficult is it to recharge an ordinary alkaline battery?

Very difficult if you don’t own the right type of equipment designed to do the job. We have been telling you of a safety-tested, dependable charger that has been around for years, and will remind you again at the end of this chapter. Using the wrong type of charger on alkaline batteries can be downright dangerous. Just read the warning labels printed on ordinary batteries. A NiCad charger should never be used on alkaline batteries. Such a charger would supply currents in excess of safe values, would not turn off automatically when battery voltage exceeds safe limits, and would continue unchecked until the battery was damaged.

How many times can an ordinary alkaline battery be recharged?

Would you believe hundreds of times? The trick is to stop using the battery well before it has given up all of its available stored energy. Note that this is directly opposite to the instructions that were packed with your battery-operated drill or screwdriver with its NiCad batteries. When the drill stops turning, charge the battery, but not before. Good rule for NiCads, but not for alkaline batteries.

Assuming you now have a charger to safely charge alkalines, don’t wait for the battery to stop working. In order to achieve ten times extension of the normal life of an everyday alkaline battery, you will have to recharge it frequently, many more times than ten. It makes sense to use a second set of batteries for a high drain device. Take out one set of batteries when the device is not being used, and put in the second set that has been recharged. Charge the first set and carry it with you as a backup if necessary.

You will be surprised how easily children will be attracted to charging their own batteries in their toys and possessions. Managing their own batteries is fun, and they know it helps the environment by not having to throw batteries away when they can recycle them.

Why did it take so long for a good alkaline charger to be developed?

There have been many more failures than successes along the road to developing a good charger. Products were announced, and then you didn’t see any more of them. The reason is simple — they didn’t work. One came close to working, the Buddy-L SuperCharger, announced in 1993. Popular Science magazine named it as one of the 100 top scientific achievements of the year. But it did not live up to expectations. Apparently, the product was launched into production too quickly, and sub-standard operation resulted. Fortunately, the problems did not hurt the batteries. The batteries simply switched off prematurely before charging was complete, and the users had to restart the charging process several times. Also, it was not designed for easy battery insertion, always requiring two hands and a struggle. Eleven years later, many people are still using their SuperChargers and are reluctant to part with them.

All the background information was absorbed and a totally re-engineered product emerged, the Battery Xtender ™ Tests have shown that it does live up to expectations, and that the claims of ten times life extension for ordinary alkaline batteries are not exaggerated. The case has been redesigned to allow easy one-handed access to the batteries, and it occupies much less space on a desk, table top or counter.

Click on the underlined patent number of interest to see details from the US patent and Trademark Office.
On that page you will see a box labelled:

Click there to see the high-resolution image of the patent and all its figures.
If you have difficulty seeing the patent image or printing the patent pages, you will need to download a plug-in for your browser. The four plug-ins available from the USPTO are commercial-free and contain helpful features such as a magnifier viewer for examining details on each page. Click Help with USPTO Patent Full-Page Images to read about and download a plug-in.

7,264,898 Primary zinc-air battery
De-Qian Yang, Yu-Qiang Yang, City of Industry, CA
15 Claims, 6 Drawing Sheets
A rectangular-shaped primary zinc-air battery has double the power output because of having two sheets of air cathodes instead of one

7,267,191 System and method for battery protection strategy for hybrid electric vehicles
Jack Xu, et al, Michigan, assigned to Ford Global Technologies, Dearborn, MI
26 Claims, 5 Drawing Sheets
Steps taken for determining the status of battery charge and the conditions of generator output in a hybrid electric vehicle to provide over-discharge protection to the battery

7,267,904 Nonaqueous secondary electrolytic battery
Shigeo Komatsu, et al, Japan (others from CA), assigned to GS Yuasa Corporation, Kyoto, JP
9 Claims, 19 Drawing Sheets
A lithium battery enclosed in a resin sheet. The use of a resin sheet results in a strong, light battery.


If you did not get a chance to see last week’s selection and would like to view those patents, please make your request on the contact form on our Contact Us page and we will send the details of last week’s selection, with links to see those patents on the USPTO website.

A vehicle battery using “an inventive metal particulate anode” and a “bifunctional air electrode” may be recharged either by circulating the electrolyte containing the zinc particles and passing reverse current through them to recharge the battery, or the particles may be pumped out and replaced with previously recharged particles. This allows an electric vehicle to refuel at a zinc particle filling station. U.S. Patent # 5,441,820 describes this development and is available for licensing fromTechnology Transfer Department
E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
MS 90-1070
Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 486-6467 Fax: (510) 486-6457
or send e-mail to: Technology Transfer Department
A list of other developments in batteries available for licensing from Berkeley Labs is available.

Visit http://www.lbl.gov/tt/techs/lbnl0868.html
Other automotive battery applications:

Electric cars
Lithium-Metal-Polymer batteries for electric vehicles

Click on the links to see these new developments.

Announcement of a ‘Self-Charging’ battery
The Inventions Submission Corporation (ISC), of Pittsburgh PA has announced that two Fort Wayne IN inventors have created a self-charging replacement for rechargeable batteries. The invention “recharges without the use of special equipment or electrical current and can be produced in all standard battery sizes.”
Another entry to the “self-charging” field is shown in a US Patent Office Patent Application Publication 2006/0257734. To access these publications it is necessary to go to the USPTO home page and click on the Application Publication database.

Electric Cars
Electric cars discusses the use of batteries as motive power sources in electric vehicles, as well as temporary energy storage in hybrid and solar powered vehicles.

Lithium-Metal-Polymer Battery with ultra-thin film electrolyte

This Lithium-Metal-Polymer battery contains no liquid or paste electrolyte. The electrolyte is in the form of a polymer film, resulting in a lightweight battery that is rugged, required little maintenance, and can tolerate extremes of temperatures in service lives as long as 10 years.

Battery-operated water purifier

A new development offered by Proctor & Gamble, not yet on the market. It is low-power electrolysis technology that can remove pathogens from small or large quantities of water. The technology is offered for licensing through yet2.com as a TechPak.

Uninterruptible power supply for a city? It takes a huge battery
Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to worry about the power going off suddenly with the loss of what you had been doing at the computer? It is called an uninterruptible power supply. You can buy one for your computer that will keep it going for some dozens of minutes. What if you were trying to provide power to a small city? Could you keep it going for 4 or more hours? Learn how by following the link above.

Valve-regulated Lead-Acid Batteries
Valve-regulated Lead-Acid batteries are more user-friendly than the type found in your automobile. They are welcome in the home or office. A new rugged case allows them to be shipped inside electronic equipment, where they can provide energy for uninterruptible power supplies. Read about new advances in energy density and service life.

Electric vehicles ‘refuel’ by pumping in recharged electrolyte
What do you do if you own an electric vehicle that has been driven too far for the amount of charge stored on its batteries? Do you drive to the nearest electrical plug-in and wait six hours for the batteries to charge? Suppose you could just drive into an electrolyte pumping station and say, “Fill her up!” This development allows for just that possibility.

Battery energy does not always remain quietly stored in the battery. Sometimes you must get that energy out in a hurry. Short bursts of power are required, for instance, when starting an automobile on a cold morning. Cold cranking requires high current from the battery. When you turn on the viewing screen of a digital camera, you also demand high current output from the camera’s battery.

The power used comes from stored energy
During every interval in which power is used, a quantity of energy is drained from the battery. That quantity of energy is equal to the amount of power, multiplied by the time the power flows. Energy has units of power and time, such as kilowatt-hours or watt-seconds. As the stored battery energy is used up, the available voltage and current drops lower and lower until finally the battery is exhausted. Then it is time to recharge or replace the battery. A good battery must supply two requirements. First, it must be able to meet the power demand by supplying adequate voltage and current when needed. Otherwise it is useless from the start. Secondly, there must be sufficient energy to last a long time, or else the battery must be economical, readily replaced, or easy to recharge.

Joules are units of energy or work
The Joule is the International Standard unit of energy defined as one watt-second. One watt-second of mechanical work is the work done by a force of one Newton (or 0.2247 pound) pushing through a one-meter distance. 3600 Joules are contained in one watt-hour, since an hour contains 3600 seconds,. Batteries are often rated in milliampere-hours instead of watt-hours. This battery rating can be converted to energy if the average voltage of the battery during discharge is known. For instance, a 3.6-volt Lithium-ion battery rated at 850 mAh will maintain a voltage of 3.6 volts with little variation during discharge. Multiply the voltage of 3.6 volts times 850 mAh to yield 3060 mA-volt-hours, or 3060 milliwatt-hours. 3.06 watt-hours equal 11016 watt-seconds or Joules. Compare this value to those found in the tables below.Joules may be converted to other familiar units using the numerical factors given below. Divide the number of Joules by 3.6 million to obtain kilowatt-hours. Divide the number of Joules by 1.356 to obtain the number of foot-pounds, a popular unit of work in the English system. Divide by 1055 to obtain the equivalent number of BTU (British Thermal Units). Divide by 4184 to obtain the number of food Calories! Yes, food Calories are energy, of course. This comparison does not put batteries in a good light compared to peanut butter. Two tablespoons of smooth peanut butter contain 191 Calories, or almost 800,000 Joules! It takes a huge battery to contain this much energy.

What battery type gives the most energy for the price?
In the table below we present the cost per Watt-hour, Specific Energy, that is Watt-hours per kilogram, Joules per kg, and the Energy Density, Watt-hours/liter for various types of batteries. It is not surprising that the well-known Lead-acid storage batteries head the list. Fine for use in our cars, but a little inconvenient in a laptop. And why are Alkaline long-life and Carbon-zinc batteries in the list? Aren’t they non-rechargeable? This was thought to be the case, previously, but now they can have their lifetimes extended by recharging. Ordinary alkaline cells may be recharged literally dozens of times using the new technology built into the Battery XtenderTM. Recharging alkaline, nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride cells side-by-side in one automatic charger opens up new possibilities for battery selection economy.

Battery
Type
Cost
$ per Wh
Wh/kg Joules/kg Wh/liter
Lead-acid $0.17 41 146,000 100
Alkaline long-life $0.19 110 400,000 320
Carbon-zinc $0.31 36 130,000 92
NiMH $0.99 95 340,000 300
NiCad $1.50 39 140,000 140
Lithium-ion $0.47 128 460,000 230

Costs of lithium-ion batteries are falling rapidly in the race to develop new electric vehicles. The $0.47 price per watt-hour above is for the Nissan Leaf automobile, and they predict a target cost of $0.37 per watt-hour. Tesla Automobiles uses a smaller battery pack, and they are optimistic about reaching a price of $0.20 per watt-hour in the near future.There is another type of battery that does not appear in the table above, since it is limited in the relative amount of current it can deliver. However, it has even higher energy storage per kilogram, and its temperature range is extreme, from -55 to +150°C. That type is Lithium Thionyl Chloride. It is used in extremely hazardous or critical applications such as space flight and deep sea diving.

The specifications for Lithium Thionyl Chloride are $1.16 per watt-hour, 700 watts/kg, 2,000,000 Joules/kg, and 1100 watt-hours per liter. For more information of Lithium Thionyl Chloride please contact Tadiran Batteries.
For more tables on energy storage, including the available storage in standard AAA, AA C, and D batteries, please follow the link to Battery Energy Tables. and for details on charging Alkaline batteries, please see Alkaline charging.

Our history of batteries begins with the Baghdad battery
Why was a battery required 2000 years ago?
In June, 1936, workers constructing a new railway near the city of Baghdad uncovered an ancient tomb. Relics in the tomb allowed archeologists to identify it as belonging to the Parthian Empire. The Parthians, although illiterate and nomadic, were the dominating force in the Fertile Crescent area between 190 BC to 224 AD. It is known that in 129 BC they had acquired lands up to the banks of the Tigris River, near Baghdad.

Among the relics found in the tomb was a clay jar or vase, sealed with pitch at its top opening. An iron rod protruded from the center, surrounded by a cylindrical tube made of wrapped copper sheet. The height of the jar was about 15 cm, and the copper tube was about 4 cm diameter by 12 cm in length. Tests of replicas, when filled with an acidic liquid such as vinegar, showed it could have produced between 1.5 and 2 volts between the iron and copper. It is suspected that this early battery, or more than one in series, may have been used to electroplate gold onto silver artifacts.

A German archeologist, Dr. Wilhelm Konig, identified the clay pot as a possible battery in 1938. While its 2000-year old date would make it the first documented battery invention, there may have been even earlier technology at work. Dr. Konig also found Sumerian vases made of copper, but plated with silver, dating back to 2500 BC. No evidence of Sumerian batteries has been found to date.

1747 — Principle of the telegraph discovered, but not battery-powered.
In 1747 Sir William Watson demonstrated in England that a current could be sent through a long wire, using the conduction through the earth as the other conductor of the circuit. Presumably the current was from an electrostatic discharge, such as from a Leyden jar charged with high voltage. People at that time knew how to generate electrostatic voltages by rubbing dissimilar materials such as glass and fur together. Then in 1753 a certain C.M. in Scotland devised a signaling machine that used an insulated wire for each letter of the alphabet. At the sending end an electrostatic charge was applied to the selected wire, and a pith ball jumped at the receiving end in response to the voltage.

1786 — Luigi Galvani notices the reaction of frog legs to voltage
He was remarkably close to discovering the principle of the battery, but missed it. He thought the reaction was due to a property of the tissues. He used two dissimilar metals in contact with a moist substance to touch dissected frog legs. The resulting current made the muscles in the frog legs twitch. Luigi Galvani made many more important discoveries later, when the relationship between magnets and currents became known. The galvanometer is named for him. It is a moving coil set in a permanent magnetic field. Current flowing through the coil deflects it and an attached mirror, which reflects a beam of light. It was the first accurate electrical measuring instrument.

1800 — Alessandro Volta publishes details of a battery
That battery was made by piling up layers of silver, paper or cloth soaked in salt, and zinc. Many triple layers were assembled into a tall pile, without paper or cloth between zinc and silver, until the desired voltage was reached. Even today the French word for battery is ‘pile’ (English pronunciation “peel”.) Volta also developed the concept of the electrochemical series, which ranks the potential produced when various metals are in contact with an electrolyte. How handy for us that he was well known for his publications and received recognition for this through the naming of the standard unit of electric potential as the volt. Otherwise, we would have to ask “How many galvans does your battery produce?” instead of asking “how many volts does your battery produce?”

1820 — The Daniell Cell
The Voltaic Pile was not good for delivering currents for long periods of time. This restriction was overcome in the Daniell Cell. British researcher John Frederich Daniell developed an arrangement where a copper plate was located at the bottom of a wide-mouthed jar. A cast zinc piece commonly referred to as a crowfoot, because of its shape, was located at the top of the plate, hanging on the rim of the jar. Two electrolytes, or conducting liquids, were employed. A saturated copper sulphate solution covered the copper plate and extended halfway up the remaining distance toward the zinc piece. Then a zinc sulphate solution, a less dense liquid, was carefully poured in to float above the copper sulphate and immerse the zinc. As an alternative to zinc sulphate, magnesium sulphate or dilute sulphuric acid was sometimes used. The Daniell Cell was one of the first to incorporate mercury, by amalgamating it with the zinc anode to reduce corrosion when the batteries were not in use. We now know better than to put mercury into batteries. This battery, which produced about 1.1 volts, was used to power telegraphs, telephones, and even to ring doorbells in homes for over 100 years. The applications were all stationary ones, because motion would mix the two electrolyte liquids. The battery jars have become collectors items, with prices ranging for $4 to $44. Check them out on ebay.com.

1859 — Lead Acid — the Planté Battery
Raymond Gaston Planté made a cell by rolling up two strips of lead sheet separated by pieces of flannel, and the whole assembly was immersed in dilute sulphuric acid. By alternately charging and discharging this cell, its ability to supply current was increased. An improved separator was obviously needed to resist the sulphuric acid.

1866 — The Leclanché carbon-zinc battery
The first cell developed by Georges Leclanché in France was a wet cell having its electrodes immersed in a liquid. Nevertheless, it was rugged and easy to manufacture and had a good shelf life. He later improved the battery by substituting a moist ammonium chloride paste for the liquid electrolyte and sealing the battery. The resulting battery was referred to as a dry cell. It could be used in various positions and moved about without spilling. Carbon-zinc dry cells are sold to this day in blister packages labeled “heavy duty” and “transistor power”. The anode of the cell was zinc, which was made into a cup or can which contained the other parts of the battery. The cathode was a mixture of 8 parts manganese dioxide with one part of carbon black, connected to the positive post or button at the top of the battery by a carbon collector rod. The electrolyte paste may also contain some zinc chloride. Around 1960 sales of Leclanché cells were surpassed by the newer alkaline-manganese batteries.

1881 — Camille Faure’s Lead Acid Battery — suitable for autos
Camille Faure’s acid battery used a grid of cast lead packed with lead oxide paste, instead of lead sheets. This improved its ability to supply current. It formed the basis of the modern lead acid battery used in autos, particularly when new separator materials were developed to hold the positive plates in place, and prevent particles falling from these plates from shorting out the positive and negative plates from the conductive sediment.

1898 to 1908 — the Edison Battery
Thomas Edison, the most prolific of all American inventors, developed an alkaline cell with iron as the anode material (-) and nickelic oxide as the cathode material (+). The electrolyte used was potassium hydroxide, the same as in modern nickel-cadmium and alkaline batteries. The cells were well suited to industrial and railroad use. They survived being overcharged or remaining uncharged for long periods of time. Their voltage (1 to 1.35 volts) was an indication of their state of charge.

1893 to 1909 — the Nickel-Cadmium Battery
In parallel with the work of Edison, but independently, Jungner and Berg in Sweden developed the nickel-cadmium cell. In place of the iron used in the Edison cell, they used cadmium, with the result that it operated better at low temperatures, self-discharged itself to a lesser degree than the Edison cell, and could be trickle-charged, that is, charged at a much-reduced rate. In a different format and using the same chemistry, nickel-cadmium cells are still made and sold.

1949 — the Alkaline-Manganese Battery
The alkaline-manganese battery, or as we know it today, the alkaline battery, was developed in 1949 by Lew Urry at the Eveready Battery Company Laboratory in Parma, Ohio. Alkaline batteries could supply more total energy at higher currents than the Leclanché batteries. Further improvements since then have increased the energy storage within a given size package.

1950 — The zinc-mercuric oxide alkaline battery by Ruben
Samuel Ruben (an independent inventor) developed the zinc-mercuric oxide alkaline battery, which was licensed to the P.R. Mallory Co. P.R. Mallory Co. later became Duracell, International. Mercury compounds have since been eliminated from batteries to protect the environment.

1964 — Duracell is formed (incorporated)

How big a battery is required to supply one million watts for eight hours (or 8 million watts for 1 hour)? The use of a Vanadium Redox Battery system allows this to be done in a reasonable space. According to information supplied by VRB Power Systems, Vancouver BC, liquid storage of 400,000 liters of electrolyte is required. Then an additional 10 to 15% area of space is required to hold the battery cell stacks and the power conversion system to convert from DC power to AC power. The system is based on energy storage in two different electrolyte solutions which are made up of dilute sulphuric acid and emulsified vanadium particles. The particles are stored in two tanks, one for the positive electrolyte, and one for the negative electrolyte. The two liquids are pumped to opposite sides of half-cells separated by a membrane. In large installations, the cell stacks are rated at 50 kW each. Based on the direction of current flow, the cells either produce power, or use applied power to recharge the electrolytes.

The system, known as a Vanadium Redox Battery Energy Storage System, is based on two patents by Michael and Maria Kazacos of Sylvania Heights, Australia, U.S. Patent numbers 6,468,688 and 6,562,514.

An agreement was signed in March, 2001 licensing the Vancouver company to use the Vanadium Redox Battery Technology owned by Pinnacle VRB Limited of Australia within Canada, the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, Central and South America and the Caribbean. These VRB Power Systems can be used to provide emergency power for cellular telephone towers, to provide storage of excess energy generated at windmill farms when high wind conditions exist, and to level out peaks of energy demand and supply for utilities. They offer a reasonably low initial system cost, almost negligible maintenance cost, and they have the lowest ecological impact of all energy storage technologies.