BU-101: When was the Battery Invented?

One of the most remarkable and novel discoveries in the last 400 years was electricity. We might ask, “Has electricity been around that long?” The answer is yes, and perhaps much longer, but its practical use has only been at our disposal since the mid to late 1800s, and in a limited way at first. One of the earliest public works gaining attention was enlightening the 1893 Chicago’s World Columbia Exposition with 250,000 light bulbs, and illuminating a bridge over the river Seine during the 1900 World Fair in Paris.

The use of electricity may go back further. While constructing a railway in 1936 near Baghdad, workers uncovered what appeared to be a prehistoric battery, also known as the Parthian Battery. The object dates back to the Parthian period and is believed to be 2,000 years old. The battery consisted of a clay jar that was filled with a vinegar solution into which an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder was inserted. This device produced 1.1 to 2.0 volts of electricity. Figure 1 illustrates the Parthian Battery.

Parthian Battery

.Parthian Battery in detail

Figure 1: Parthian Battery. A clay jar of a prehistoric battery holds an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder. When filled with vinegar or electrolytic solution, the jar produces 1.1 to 2 volts.

Not all scientists accept the Parthian Battery as a source of energy. It is possible that the device was used for electroplating, such as adding a layer of gold or other precious metals to a surface. The Egyptians are said to have electroplated antimony onto copper over 4,300 years ago. Archeological evidence suggests the Babylonians were the first to discover and employ a galvanic technique in the manufacturing of jewelry by using an electrolyte based on grape juice to gold plate stoneware. The Parthians, who ruled Baghdad (ca. 250 BC), may have used batteries to electroplate silver.

One of the earliest methods to generate electricity in modern times was through creating a static charge. In 1660, Otto von Guericke constructed an electrical machine using a large sulfur globe which, when rubbed and turned, attracted feathers and small pieces of paper. Guericke was able to prove that the sparks generated were electrical in nature.

The first practical use of static electricity was the “electric pistol,” which Alessandro Volta (1745–1827) invented. He thought of providing long-distance communications, albeit only one Boolean bit. An iron wire supported by wooden poles was to be strung from Como to Milan, Italy. At the receiving end, the wire would terminate in a jar filled with methane gas. To signal a coded event, an electrical spark would be sent by wire for the purpose of detonating the electric pistol. This communications link was never built. Figure 1-2 shows a pencil rendering of Alessandro Volta.

Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery

 

 

 

Figure 2: Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery

Volta’s discovery of the decomposition of water by an electrical current laid the foundation of electrochemistry.

Courtesy of Cadex

 

 

In 1791, while working at Bologna University, Luigi Galvani discovered that the muscle of a frog would contract when touched by a metallic object. This phenomenon became known as animal electricity. Prompted by these experiments, Volta initiated a series of experiments using zinc, lead, tin and iron as positive plates (cathode); and copper, silver, gold and graphite as negative plates (anode). The interest in galvanic electricity soon became widespread.

Early Batteries

Volta discovered in 1800 that certain fluids would generate a continuous flow of electrical power when used as a conductor. This discovery led to the invention of the first voltaic cell, more commonly known as the battery. Volta discovered further that the voltage would increase when voltaic cells were stacked on top of each other. Figure 3 illustrates such a serial connection.

Four variations of Volta’s electric battery

Figure 1-3: Four variations
of Volta’s electric battery

Metals in a battery have different electrical effects. Volta noticed that the voltage potential with dissimilar substances got stronger the farther apart they were from one another.

The first number in the metals listed below is the affinity to attract electrons; the second is the standard potential from the first oxidation state.

Zinc = 1.6 / -0.76 V

Lead = 1.9 / -0.13 V

Tin = 1.8 / -1.07 V

Iron = 1.8 / -0.04 V

Copper = 1.9 / 0.159 V

Silver = 1.9 / 1.98 V

Gold = 2.4 / 1.83 V

Carbon = 2.5 / 0.13 V

The metals determine the battery voltage; they were separated with moist paper soaked in salt water.

Courtesy of Cadex

In the same year, Volta released his discovery of a continuous source of electricity to the Royal Society of London. No longer were experiments limited to a brief display of sparks that lasted a fraction of a second. An endless stream of electric current now seemed possible.

France was one of the first nations to officially recognize Volta’s discoveries. This was during a time when France was approaching the height of scientific advancements and new ideas were welcomed with open arms, helping to support of the country’s political agenda. By invitation, Volta addressed the Institute of France in a series of lectures at which Napoleon Bonaparte was present as a member of the institute (see Figure 4).

Volta’s experimentations at the Institute of France

Figure 4: Volta’s experimentations at the Institute of France
Volta’s discoveries so impressed the world that in November 1800 the French National Institute invited him to lectures at events in which Napoleon Bonaparte participated. Napoleon helped with the experiments, drawing sparks from the battery, melting a steel wire, discharging an electric pistol and decomposing water into its elements.

Courtesy of Cadex

In 1800, Sir Humphry Davy, inventor of the miner’s safety lamp, began testing the chemical effects of electricity and found out that decomposition occurred when passing electrical current through substances. This process was later called electrolysis. He made new discoveries by installing the world’s largest and most powerful electric battery in the vaults of the Royal Institution of London. Connecting the battery to charcoal electrodes produced the first electric light. Witnesses reported that his voltaic arc lamp produced “the most brilliant ascending arch of light ever seen.”

In 1802, William Cruickshank designed the first electric battery for mass production. Cruickshank arranged square sheets of copper with equal-sized sheets sizes of zinc. These sheets were placed into a long rectangular wooden box and soldered together. Grooves in the box held the metal plates in position, and the sealed box was then filled with an electrolyte of brine, or a watered-down acid. This resembled the flooded battery that is still with us today. Figure 5 illustrates the battery workshop of Cruickshank.

Cruickshank and the first flooded battery

Figure 5: Cruickshank and the first flooded battery. William Cruickshank, an English chemist, built a battery of electric cells by joining zinc and copper plates in a wooden box filled with an electrolyte solution. This flooded design had the advantage of not drying out with use and provided more energy than Volta’s disc arrangement.

Courtesy of Cadex

Invention of the Rechargeable Battery

In 1836, John F. Daniell, an English chemist, developed an improved battery that produced a steadier current than earlier devices. Until this time, all batteries were primary, meaning they could not be recharged. In 1859, the French physicist Gaston Planté invented the first rechargeable battery. It was based on lead acid, a system that is still used today.

In 1899, Waldmar Jungner from Sweden invented the nickel-cadmium battery (NiCd), which used nickel for the positive electrode (cathode) and cadmium for the negative (anode). High material costs compared to lead acid limited its use and two years later, Thomas Edison produced an alternative design by replacing cadmium with iron. Low specific energy, poor performance at low temperature and high self-discharge limited the success of the nickel-iron battery. It was not until 1932 that Shlecht and Ackermann achieved higher load currents and improved the longevity of NiCd by inventing the sintered pole plate. In 1947, Georg Neumann succeeded in sealing the cell.

For many years, NiCd was the only rechargeable battery for portable applications. In the 1990s, environmentalists in Europe became concerned about environmental contamination if NiCd were carelessly disposed; they began to restrict this chemistry and asked the consumer industry to switch to Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH), an environmentally friendlier battery. NiMH is similar to NiCd, and many predict that NiMH will be the stepping-stone to the more enduring lithium-ion (Li-ion). 

Most research activities today revolve around improving lithium-based systems. Besides powering cellular phones, laptops, digital cameras, power tools and medical devices, Li-ion is also used for electric vehicles. The battery has a number of benefits, most notably its high specific energy, simple charging, low maintenance and being environmentally benign.

Electricity Through Magnetism

The discovery of how to generate electricity through magnetism came relatively late. In 1820, André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836) noticed that wires carrying an electric current were at times attracted to and at other times repelled from one another. In 1831, Michael Faraday (1791–1867) demonstrated how a copper disc provided a constant flow of electricity while revolving in a strong magnetic field. Faraday, assisting Davy and his research team, succeeded in generating an endless electrical force as long as the movement between a coil and magnet continued. This led to the invention of the electric generator, and reversing the process enabled the electric motor. Shortly thereafter, transformers were developed that converted alternating current (AC) to any desired voltage. In 1833, Faraday established the foundation of electrochemistry on which Faraday’s law is based. Faraday’s law of induction relates to electromagnetism linked to transformers, inductors, and many types of electrical motors and generators.

Once the relationship with magnetism was understood, large generators began producing a steady flow of electricity. Motors followed that enabled mechanical movement, and the Edison light bulb appeared to conquer darkness. After George Westinghouse lit up Chicago's World Columbian Exposition in 1893, Westinghouse built three large generators to transform energy from the Niagara Falls to electricity. The three-phase AC technology developed by Nikola Tesla enabled transmission lines to carry electric power over great distances. Electricity was thus made widely available to humanity to improve the quality of life.

250,000 light bulbs illuminate Chicago's World Columbian Exposition in 1896

Figure 6: 250,000 light bulbs illuminate Chicago's World Columbian Exposition in 1893.

The success of the electric light led to building three large hydro generators at Niagara Falls.

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum Archives. Goodyear Archival Collection 

The invention of the electronic vacuum tube in the early 1900s formed the significant next step towards high technology, enabling frequency oscillators, signal amplifications and digital switching. This led to radio broadcasting in the 1920s and the first digital computer, called ENIAC, in 1946. The discovery of the transistor in 1947 paved the way for the arrival of the integrated circuit 10 years later, and the microprocessor ushered in the Information Age, forever changing the way we live and work.

Humanity depends on electricity, and with increased mobility people have gravitated more and more towards portable power — first for wheeled applications, then portability and finally wearable use. As awkward and unreliable as the early batteries may have been, future generations may look at today’s technologies as nothing more than clumsy experiments.

Battery Developments

Inventions in the 1700s and 1800s are well documented and credit goes to the dignified inventors. Benjamin Franklin invented the Franklin stove, bifocal eyeglasses and the lightning rod. He was unequaled in American history as an inventor until Thomas Edison emerged. Edison was a good businessman who may have taken credit for inventions others had made. Contrary to popular belief, Edison did not invent the light bulb; he improved upon a 50-year-old idea by using a small, carbonized filament lit up in a better vacuum. Although a number of people had worked on this idea before, Edison gained the financial reward by making the concept commercially viable to the public. The phonograph is another success story for which Edison received due credit.

Countries often credit their own citizens for having made important inventions, whether or not they deserve it. When visiting museums in Europe, the USA and Japan one sees such bestowment. The work to develop the car, x-ray machines, telephones, broadcast radio, televisions and computers might have been done in parallel, not knowing of others’ advancements at that time, and the rightful inventor is often not clearly identified. Similar uncertainties exist with the invention of new battery systems, and we give respect to research teams and organizations rather than individuals. Table 1 summarizes battery advancements and lists inventors when available.

 

Year

Inventor

Activity45

1600

William Gilbert (UK)

Establishment of electrochemistry study


1745

Ewald George von Kleist (Netherlands)

Invention of Leyden jar. Stores static electricity

1791

Luigi Galvani (Italy)

Discovery of “animal electricity”

1800

1802

1820

1833

1836

1839

1859

1868

1899

Alessandro Volta (Italy)

William Cruickshank (UK)

André-Marie Ampère (France)

Michael Faraday (UK)

John F. Daniell (UK)

William Robert Grove (UK)

Gaston Planté (France)

Georges Leclanché (France)

Waldmar Jungner (Sweden)

Invention of the voltaic cell (zinc, copper disks)

First electric battery capable of mass production

Electricity through magnetism

Announcement of Faraday’s law

Invention of the Daniell cell

Invention of the fuel cell (H2/O2)

Invention of the lead acid battery

Invention of the Leclanché cell (carbon-zinc)

Invention of the nickel-cadmium battery

1901

1932

1947

1949

1970s

1990

1991

1994

1996

1996

Thomas A. Edison (USA)

Shlecht & Ackermann (D)

Georg Neumann (Germany)

Lew Urry, Eveready Battery

Group effort

Group effort

Sony (Japan)

Bellcore (USA)

Moli Energy (Canada)

University of Texas (USA)

Invention of the nickel-iron battery

Invention of the sintered pole plate

Successfully sealing the nickel-cadmium battery

Invention of the alkaline-manganese battery

Development of valve-regulated lead acid battery

Commercialization of nickel-metal-hydride battery

Commercialization of lithium-ion battery

Commercialization of lithium-ion polymer

Introduction of Li-ion with manganese cathode

Identification of Li-phosphate (LiFePO4)

2002

University of Montreal, Quebec Hydro, MIT, others

Improvement of Li-phosphate, nanotechnology, commercialization

Table 1: History of modern battery development. No new major battery system has entered the commercial market since the invention of Li-phosphate in 1996.

Comments

On October 15, 2010 at 3:04am
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On November 13, 2010 at 10:36pm
Mahesh D Goudar wrote:

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On November 19, 2010 at 11:05am
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On December 13, 2010 at 9:39am
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On December 15, 2010 at 1:22am
ufiq wrote:

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On December 20, 2010 at 3:03am
inbasekaran wrote:

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On December 20, 2010 at 3:06am
inbasekaran wrote:

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On December 28, 2010 at 3:33pm
Anthony wrote:

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On January 15, 2011 at 10:58am
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On January 21, 2011 at 4:06am
Narongchai wrote:

How about the story of the solar cell?

On February 20, 2011 at 5:50am
Giuseppe Sturiale wrote:

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On February 22, 2011 at 2:11am
Hussein wrote:

The first electric cell discovered in the world was in Babylon in Iraq.

On March 15, 2011 at 1:19am
ashok wrote:

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On March 17, 2011 at 10:58pm
wg cdr p janardhana wrote:

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On March 20, 2011 at 11:58am
AJ wrote:

Nice collection of basic information

On March 22, 2011 at 8:53am
Brandon wrote:

This article has been updated as of March 17th with new information extracted from the upcoming third edition of our book Batteries in a Portable World. Enjoy!

Brandon

On April 28, 2011 at 8:54am
david wrote:

hey if the battery wasent enventid noeone would have nothing

On June 24, 2011 at 3:34am
Love it wrote:

Really informative. Keep it up guys!

On August 9, 2011 at 2:33pm
Peter Koch wrote:

You wrote, “One of the earliest public works gaining attention was an electrically illuminated bridge over the river Seine during the 1900 World Fair in Paris.”  Even earlier was the lighting of 250,000 electric light bulbs at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago by George Westinghouse using the polyphase AC generation methods developed by Nikola Tesla.  There are many photos of this on the internet, e.g., http://explorepahistory.com/displayimage.php?imgId=1-2-1B46&storyId=1-9-1C .  Perhaps you were referring to electric illumination with use of energy stored in batteries.

On August 25, 2011 at 8:01pm
tim bertram wrote:

hi mate

On September 28, 2011 at 8:48pm
MIKE HUNT wrote:

NICE

On October 7, 2011 at 4:59am
Dent wrote:

In 1901 Thomas A. Edison brought out one of Volta’s battery designs calling it the Edison battery, that was one heck of a battery. I often wonder why we do not use it today in our solar/wind/water storage applications. It lasts forever if taken care of and it only lacks a small percentage of power when compared to a lead acid battery. I have heard stories of these batteries lasting for over a hundred years with proper maintenance. Try to get one tenth that out of any other storage device. They are no longer made in the USA, you have to go to China to get one. They are safer and more Eco friendly than lead acid. SO why?? Does anyone really know?

I know it is nice to save space and have more power, but considering how long they last and they are similar to lead acid as far a power output I wouldn’t mind putting in a few more batteries in my unit to have some last for a life time. My dad said they used them on the windmills in the early 1900s through the 1950s in the mid-west as storage batteries where people did not have electricity to run well pumps and other farming uses, houses any kind of electrical need. He said they need proper maintenance and clean electrolyte and they will last forever. They never replaced any when he was growing up so he had no idea how old they were. There is not much written about these batteries I can find as far as people using them now-a-days. Cheers all!

On October 9, 2011 at 9:54pm
manu ks wrote:

informative nice. . . .

On November 4, 2011 at 3:21am
Dent wrote:

I forgot one important thing about why Edison was looking for a new battery. He was involved in promoting electric cars and because of the lead acid batteries spilling on the people in the car they were becoming un-popular. Using sulfuric acid is hard on skin when the batteries leaked and much worse in case of a crash, as it spilled onto the occupants. He needed a battery that did not harm people and Volta’s nickel-iron battery worked pretty well. Volta failed to patent the design and Edison did, and that we say was that.

In my reading over the years it seems poor ol’ Volta did not get credit for several of his ideas. Oh well, it sure isn’t the first time one failed to get credit for their ideas in the electrical industry. One big one come to mind: Marconi is thought to be the father of the wireless radio, when it was Nicola Tesla’s ideas that were used by Marconi to create wireless. I believe Marconi used three of Tesla’s patents in his device. I took until the 1940s to get the courts to settle that fight and Tesla won, however it was a little to late, as he passed away shortly before the decision.

On January 18, 2012 at 8:03am
Adarsh wrote:

this is the exact webpage to know about the invention of battery

On February 20, 2012 at 4:11am
manizheh wrote:

I enjoyed.
this website is really user friendly
Thanks

On March 12, 2012 at 11:38am
bee wrote:

this website help me a lot with my project…........ smile   
thank you very much…..

On March 22, 2012 at 11:04am
student AAAAA wrote:

Describe the year and the person who was first credited with creating continuous electricity.
Describe the apparatus that was used to create this electricity.
A very important name in the history of electricity conducted experiments in 1831. Name the man and what was significant about these experiments.
During World War II, the carbon-zinc cell was replaced in harsh climates by what type of cell?
Give a short description of the reason for the development of the alkaline cell which is so commonly found today.

On April 16, 2012 at 8:13pm
Dent wrote:

Well now, good questions. There are a few opinions that may not align with some of the proof that comes from other countries. Many of who did what and what time to whom, so keep that in mind. It could be argued the continuous battery was invented in Iraq back in 1000 ad, it just depends on who thinks that thing is a battery that was found.  These are what I think. Most all of the batteries chemistry you are talking about here were developed in the 1800s and brought into production in the 1900s.

1 Alessandro Volta
2 voltaic pile
3 Michael Faraday and magnetic fields/electric motors There can’t be enough said about this old boy. He is the father of just about everything electronic. One who is interested in the history of electricity can just about take everything back to Faraday. Were not worthy! Were not worthy!
4 mercury, great battery, bad new for the environment.
5 longevity and higher voltage

Here is one for you. What battery has been reintroduced in the last few years as something new to the consumer? Who came up with the chemistry?

Cheers!

On April 20, 2012 at 7:55pm
Ahmed wrote:

i want information of battery positive and nagative cells making for test so how i mak thr chamicals

On April 20, 2012 at 11:29pm
Dent wrote:

There is a lot of great information right here on this web site about what you can use for the chemicals/electrolytes that are used in a battery. If you read through this page here you will be able to build a simple battery. You can use lemon juice, vinegar, bleach and other pretty safe electrolytes. They do not make as much voltage, but they will power an LED. I am not sure what you are trying to do, but I wish you luck and I hope I have helped. If you have any more questions, just ask. There are some bright people here who I am sure would enjoy helping. Cheers!

On May 3, 2012 at 4:15am
Dent wrote:

Does anyone know a place in the states when you can get new Edison Batteries? (nickel Iron) I would like to get some to use in a solar charging station. So many people I have talked to that have some old one still in use after a hundred years love them. They found them in an old wind mill charging station int he mid west and cleaned them up and put them back to use. They do not have the storage capasity of lead acid, but they last forever if taken care of properly.

On May 31, 2012 at 9:04pm
N.Rao wrote:

very informative for learners

On July 17, 2012 at 11:16pm
ayub wrote:

well done ! keep it up.
please do indepth research on present and upcoming lithium batteries,
much obliged

On August 1, 2012 at 9:46am
Chulumanco wrote:

why have so many different battery technologies been developed?

On December 1, 2012 at 1:55pm
Walter Waes wrote:

I am a novice in this field, but because I am getting involved in developing a battery-system with management and loader in order to modify a hybrid car into an electric car. The idea is using a series of batteries to get 150 V and the necessary Ampères to be able to drive the car.
What I read so-far is improving my knowledge and I am looking forward to learn how to get the required power.
Kind regards,
Walter

On December 11, 2012 at 4:27am
Michael wrote:

nice now i know When was the Battery Invented? :D

On February 13, 2013 at 1:32am
ADNAN BHUTTA wrote:

I am a novice in this field, but because I am getting involved in developing a battery-system with management and loader in order to modify a hybrid car into an electric car. The idea is using a series of batteries to get 150 V and the necessary Ampères to be able to drive the car.
What I read so-far is improving my knowledge and I am looking forward to learn how to get the required power.
Kind regards,

On February 13, 2013 at 2:12am
Walter wrote:

Adnan,

Until now we used 3 V / 60 Ah times 78 = 234 V for a Prius II.
Because of the fact that the weight was 160 kg, it was absolutely needed to replace the springs in the rear.  Nevertheless the kit was working very well.
Now,  my friend the technician, is looking for lighter batteries at a reasonable price.  We hope to find that soon.
Kind regards   |||||    Walter

On March 23, 2013 at 6:22pm
JABBAR Gargash wrote:

Thank you for this site

On April 21, 2013 at 10:01pm
Subramanyam wrote:

It is really a great idea to provide all the information regarding batteries and its basics to educate people and to have innovative ideas to go further in devoloping batteries in future.

Great..

On April 23, 2013 at 2:16am
Walter wrote:

We found the same kind of battery that Tesla is using.  Also, we believe to know the way they use it.  For the moment it its tried in a Prius2.  You must understand that, as long as it is not commercialized, we cannot release this “secret”.
Until soon,

Walter

On June 13, 2013 at 1:54am
Navraj Phulara wrote:

I think ,we produce electric charge by means of pressure. If we able to move the electron in the material by means of pressure, then this concept of flow of electron lead us to the concept of electricity. I have spend a lot of time to think about this concept.I did some research work about this. If this is possible , the universe will be shining.

On February 19, 2014 at 12:56pm
Andrea Alvaro wrote:

i think we need more information about batteries for our projects.

On March 17, 2014 at 2:05pm
chrisb wrote:

thanks for the useful information, very informative

On April 3, 2014 at 8:17am
yolo wrote:

hey, thanks for the info.    Helped a lot ; )

On May 23, 2014 at 8:06pm
IAN wrote:

how do you determine the size of a battery for your car?
what size is needed to run lights,wipers,stereos etc, how do i work this out?
regards
Ian

On June 26, 2014 at 6:48am
Thomas Soares wrote:

We need to move on and get rid of batteries at all ! There is Free Energy in the vacuum.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_effect

And for practical examples:
http://www.free-energy-info.co.uk/Chapter3.pdf

On July 17, 2014 at 4:43am
Jackson wrote:

Very informative
Good useful information,

On July 17, 2014 at 11:30am
Thonas Soares wrote:

Yesterday i finished the replication of this technology:

http://laserhacker.com/?p=326

And it is now working fine with a Joule Thief circuit and a LED.

On July 30, 2014 at 10:53pm
Abhyuday wrote:

nice specific information unlike anything I have seen in internet

On August 8, 2014 at 10:46pm
kiran wrote:

nice information good one

On August 26, 2014 at 4:56pm
Julie wrote:

wot

On October 12, 2014 at 10:45am
Jyothis wrote:

Hai,This article is awesome.It was helpful.
I have a doubt regarding this by the way.I understand that salt bridge is Na2SO4 salt.When Oxidation happens, Zinc atom loses its 2 electron which goes to the external circuit and zn2+ ion will be in the zinc sulphate solution.Zinc ion reacts with SO4 2- ions from the salt bridge and the electrolyte would be neutral.Now in the cathode part Copper from copper sulphate solution combines with the 2 electrons from the anode and copper metal deposites on the cathode leaving soa 2- ions.This makes the electrolyte at cathode negative in charge.

1.What happens to SO4 2- ions,does it combine with Na2+ ions in the salt bridge turning the solution a mixture of Na2SO4 and Cu2SO4 solution?
2.Untill what condition does the redox reaction prolong,Is it untill zinc totally gets consumed or at a condition where there is no more Na2+ or SO4 2- ions in Salt bridge to balance the electolytes?

On October 30, 2014 at 10:04pm
Adenwilliams wrote:

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On October 31, 2014 at 6:10pm
kariah johnson wrote:

I need to know how batteries r in important to the society and it is not telling me so how can i do get the answer.

On November 15, 2014 at 3:57am
Lodewijk Langeweg wrote:

What I’m missing in the descriotion of the invention of the battery is the:

“Leyden jar”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leyden_jar

With photograph (Leiden as it is now spelled is a city in The Netherlands) and “Leidse fles” means “Bottle of Leiden”:
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leidse_fles