Battery Types

We know that a battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Batteries have two electrodes, an anode (the negative end) and a cathode (the positive end). Collectively the anode and the cathode are called the electrodes. What is positve and what is the negative terminal? It would be great to simply say that the anode is negative and the cathode is positive, however, that is not always the case. Somtimes the opposite is true depending on battery technology.

In between the battery’s two electrodes runs an electrical current caused primarily from a voltage differential between the anode and cathode. The voltage runs through a chemical called an electrolyte (which can be either liquid or solid).  We also know many attributes about batteries the different types of voltage, capacity, chemical make-up and other technical aspects.

But one fascinating consideration that is fun to look at has nothing really to do with the technical ratings, or how long a battery can power a PDA or other device for, or any other technical feature.  It is perhaps more journalistic in nature, more inquisitive, more to do with interesting little facts then anything else!

So let’s dive into this fact finding article and discover some of the hidden facts about batteries:

When was the first battery made and who made the first battery?

The first inclination that an electrical path-way from an anode to a cathode within a battery or in this first instance “a frog” occurred in 1786, when Count Luigi Galvani (an Italian anatomist, 1737-1798) found that when the muscles of a dead frog were touched by two pieces of different metals, the muscle tissue twitched.

This led to idea by Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (Feb. 18, 1745- March 5, 1827), an Italian physicist who realized that the twitching was caused by an electrical current that was created by chemicals. Volta’s discovery led to the invention of the chemical battery (also called the voltaic pile) in 1800. His first voltaic piles were made from zinc and silver plates (separated by a cloth) put in a salt water bath (brine). Volta improved the pile, using zinc and copper in a weak sulfuric acid bath and thus invented the first generator of continuous electrical current.

How many batteries are there in the world today?

If you take into consideration every conceivable place a battery can be used it is highly probable that the number would be hundreds of billions. That number of batteries would shrink if you start including certain parameters that would further qualify a family or group of batteries. But without question a lot: children toys, gaming machines, digital cameras, hearing aids, watches, computers, cars. When you start thinking in the broadest possible sense there are quite a bit of batteries being used in the world today.

What is the biggest battery in the world?

ABB, the global power and automation technology group, built the world’s largest battery energy storage system in Fairbanks Alaska. The energy storage system includes a massive nickel-cadmium battery, power conversion modules, metering, protection and control devices and service equipment. This battery provides continuous voltage support during normal operation, as well as energy back-up – to quickly provide power during system disturbances. The battery’s purpose is to be used as an electrical bridge during emergency power outages for customers of the Golden Valley Electric Association Inc (GVEA) in Fairbanks, Alaska.  In operation, the battery will produce power for several minutes to cover the time between a system disturbance and when the utility company is able to bring back-up generation on line. The battery is a high performance nickel-cadmium storage battery made up of 13,760 energy cells. Each cell measures 16 in. by 21 in.  This NiCad battery is approximately 21,520 square feet in size and weighs approximately 2,866,009. This big battery provides 40 megawatts of power – enough electricity for 12,000 people – for up to seven minutes.

What is the smallest battery in the world?

The smallest battery in the world measures 2.9 mm in diameter and 13 mm in length (about the size of a pencil tip). The cylindrical device is only 1/35 the size of a standard AA battery. The battery can, with recharging, last up to 10 years. The battery is made of a polysiloxane polymer, a material that has the highest conductivity ever reported for an electrical conductor. Recharging the battery is done wirelessly by an external electrical field, which is of great benefit since these batteries are designed to stimulate damaged nerves and muscles inside the human body.

What types of batteries are there?

  • Alkaline battery
  • Aluminium battery
  • Atomic battery
  • Lemon battery
  • Lithium battery
  • Optoelectric nuclear battery
  • Organic radical battery
  • Oxyride battery
  • Silver-oxide battery
  • Water-activated battery
  • Zinc-carbon battery
  • Lead-acid battery
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Lithium ion polymer battery
  • Nickel-cadmium battery
  • Nickel metal hydride battery
  • Molten salt battery
  • 9V battery
  • A battery (vacuum tubes)
  • AA battery
  • AAA battery
  • AAAA battery
  • B battery (vacuum tubes)
  • Backup battery
  • C battery (vacuum tubes)
  • C battery
  • D battery
  • Atomic Battery

Until next time, Dan Hagopian
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