The term “battery” was first used by Benjamin Franklin. But the first true battery called the Voltaic Pile was invented by Alessandro Volta in 1800.
This Voltaic Pile consisted of pairs of copper and zinc discs piled on top of each other, separated by a layer of cloth or cardboard soaked the electrolyte.
The Daniell cell - invented by John Daniell in 1836
This cell consisted of a copper pot filled with a copper sulphate solution. An unglazed earthenware container filled with sulphuric acid and zinc electrode was immersed in this solution. It was widely used in telegraph networks.
The Leclanché cell is a battery invented and patented by Georges Leclanché in 1866.
Originally the battery contained a conducting solution (electrolyte) of Ammonium chloride, a cathode (positive terminal) of carbon, and Manganese dioxide, and an anode (negative terminal) of zinc.
The chemistry of this cell was later successfully adapted to manufacture of dry cells In 1866, Georges Leclanché invented a battery that consisted of a zinc anode and a Manganese dioxide cathode wrapped in a porous material, dipped in a jar of Ammonium chloride solution. The manganese dioxide cathode had a little carbon mixed into it as well, which improved conductivity and absorption. It provided a voltage of 1.4 volts.
The original form of the cell used a porous pot. This gave it a relatively high internal resistance and various modifications were made to reduce it. These included the "Agglomerate block cell" and the "Sack cell".
Porous pot cell
In Leclanché's original cell the depolarizer, which consisted of crushed manganese dioxide, was packed into a pot, and a carbon rod was inserted to act as the cathode. The anode, which was a zinc rod, was then immersed along with the pot in a solution of ammonium chloride. The liquid solution acted as the electrolyte, permeating through the porous pot to make contact with the cathode.
The Dry cell - invented by Carl Gassner in 1887
As this cell was without a free liquid electrolyte it was known as the Dry cell. It is still manufactured today and known as the zinc-carbon battery. It was the first convenient battery for the masses and it made portable electrical devices practical.
The nickel-cadmium battery - invited by Waldmar Jungner in 1899
This rechargeable battery used nickel and cadmium electrodes in potassium hydroxide solution. It was the first alkaline battery. Today, there are two types of Nickel-Cadmium batteries: sealed and vented. Small sealed type of nickel-cadmium batteries are used for portable electronics and toys. While vented types are used in aviation, rail and mass transit, backup power for telecoms etc.
The lithium ion battery - produced in 1980s
In 1996, the lithium ion polymer battery was released. These batteries hold their electrolyte in a solid polymer composite instead of a liquid solvent. It is now used for portable electronics such as mobile phones and PDAs, as they allow for more flexible and compact design.