History of Batteries

Batteries today are so common that you can hardly see them. Nevertheless, this is a beautiful unit with a long and legendary history and an equally interesting future. Batteries are essentially devices that store chemical energy that is converted into electricity. A battery is essentially a small chemical reactor that reacts with energy electrons ready to flow through an external device.

Batteries convert chemical energy into electrical energy. Batteries were the first devices developed to power electrical appliances, and only in the mid-19th century were generators and generators becoming the most important sources of energy. Batteries still play an irreplaceable role in our lives. They come in all shapes and sizes. Today, engineers are working on interesting developments primarily to improve energy density and charging speed. Because the size, weight, and cost of batteries are often the limiting factors in technology development, improving batteries results in very noticeable changes in society.

Today, there are batteries of varying sizes, from large megawatt sizes that store energy in solar power plants or substations, to ensuring a stable power supply throughout towns or islands, to small batteries such as those used in electronic clocks.

When was the battery invented?

One of the most exciting discoveries in the last 400 years has been biography. You might ask, “Did the electricity take that long?” The answer is yes. Practical use was only possible from the mid to late 19th century and was initially limited. Some of the first public works that received attention were street lights in Berlin in 1882, lights at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, 250,000 bulbs, and the lights of a bridge over the Seine during the Paris World’s Fair in 1900.

Electricity consumption can go back in time. When a railway was built near Baghdad in 1936, workers discovered a prehistoric battery, also known as a partial battery. This site originated from a partisan empire and is estimated to be 2000 years ago. The battery consisted of a clay vessel filled with a vinegar solution, and an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder was placed.

What’s the anatomy of a battery?

Well, most batteries contain two terminals. One terminal features a positive sign and the other features a negative one. These terminals are found at two ends in standard flashlight batteries (we’re talking about C, D or AA cell). However, the terminals are present beside each other in a car battery (at the top of the unit). Connecting a wire between the two points makes electrons flow from the negative to the positive side, which can be dangerous if it’s a large-sized battery. For adequate harnessing of the electric charge, it’s best to link it with a motor or an electronic circuit load. 

What about a battery’s internals? Well, they are typically fixed inside a plastic or metal case. Some of the internal elements are cathode and anode. The former connects to the positive terminal while the latter connects to the negative one. The components are also referred to as electrodes and take up the majority of the space in batteries. There’s also a separator to serve as a divider between the two components. The aim is to stop the electrodes from coming together while promoting a free flow of electric charge. Lastly, the outside of the battery gets the charge through a collector, while a load also comes into play. 

Batteries since their inception come with this anatomy, but modern batteries might include some additional components. 

Early battery

Volta discovered in 1800 that when certain liquids were used as conductors, they created a continuous flow of electricity. This discovery led to the invention of the first electrochemical cells, better known as batteries. Volta learned further that the voltage increases when cells overlap each other. The storage electrode and zinc electrode are separated by paper dipped in an electrolyte and connected in series.

The metal in the battery has different connections to the electrons. Volta found that the longer the affinity figure moved, the stronger the voltage potential of different metals. The first number of metals below shows the ability to attract electrons.  Metal determines the battery voltage. They were separated by wet paper dipped in saltwater.

Courtesy of Cadex

In the same year, the Royal Volta Society of London announced that it was looking for a sustainable energy source. Experiments were no longer limited to showing sparks lasting as short as 1 second. The endless flow of current seemed possible now.

France was one of the first countries to officially acknowledge the discovery of Volta. This was when France was nearing the pinnacle of scientific achievement. It was welcomed with open arms as new ideas helped support the country’s political agenda. In a series of lectures, Volta spoke at the French Institute. Napoleon Bonaparte took part in experiments, removing sparks from batteries, melting steel wires, dropping electric guns, and breaking down water into its elements.

The invention of Rechargeable Battery

In 1836, British chemist John F. Danielle developed an improved battery that produced a more stable current than previous attempts to store electrical energy. In 1859, the French physician Gaston Plante invented the first rechargeable battery based on a lead-acid system, which is still in use today. Before that, all batteries were primary. In other words, it couldn’t be charged.

In 1899, Waldemar Jungner of Sweden invented a nickel-cadmium (NiCd) battery with nickel as the positive electrode (cathode) and cadmium as the negative electrode (anode). It has a very high material cost. Two years later Thomas Edison replaced cadmium with iron, and this battery was renamed nickel-iron (NiFe). Low specific energy, poor performance at low temperatures, and high self-discharge have limited the success of nickel-iron batteries. It wasn’t until 1932 that Schlecht and Ackermann invented the sintered pole plates to achieve higher load currents and NiCd durability. In 1947, Georg Neumann successfully sealed the camera.

For many years, nickel-cadmium batteries have been the only rechargeable batteries for portable devices. In the 1990s, environmentalists in Europe were concerned about the harm that the careless disposal of NiC could cause. The Battery Directive 2006/66 / EC now restricts the sale of nickel-cadmium batteries in the European Union, except for special industrial applications where battery replacement is not appropriate. An alternative is Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), a more environmentally friendly NiCd-like battery.

Much of today’s research activity focuses on improving lithium systems, first launched by Sony in 1991. Lithium-ion batteries are used not only to power cell phones, laptops, digital cameras, power tools, and medical devices but also for electric vehicles and satellites. The battery mainly has several advantages such as high specific energy, easy charging, low operating cost, and environmental friendliness.


Depending on the transition metal used in lithium-ion batteries, the cells have a higher capacity but are more reactive and prone to heat drainage.

Many of these batteries ignited due to lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) batteries manufactured by Sony in the 1990s. The possibility to fabricate battery cathodes on the nanoscale is ruled out, allowing more reactants to be used.

However, in the 1990s, Goodenough resumed a major step in battery technology with the introduction of a stable lithium-ion cathode based on lithium iron and phosphate.

This cathode is thermally stable. This also means that lithium nanoscale iron phosphate (LiFePO4) or lithium iron phosphate (LFP) materials can be safely converted into large cells that can be quickly charged and discharged. Now there are many new applications for these new components, from power tools to hybrid and electric vehicles. Perhaps the most important application is to store household electricity in your home.


Since the early 1990s, there has been increasing concern around the world about the environmental impact of some of the chemicals in batteries. Accordingly, Panasonic is gradually banning the use of mercury in batteries. Mercury completely disappeared from manganese and alkaline batteries in 1992.

Alkaline battery technology has become more efficient over the years and each type is specially designed for different applications. Rechargeable batteries have also come a long way. The use of lithium-ion and nickel-metal hybrid batteries has gradually replaced nickel-cadmium batteries.

Currently, more than 216 billion Panasonic batteries have been sold in 101 years of battery history. Ready to meet the high demands and standards of the future through continuous innovation and improvement of existing technologies.