Figure 5: History of battery development.
The battery may be much older. It
is believed that the Parthians who ruled Baghdad (ca. 250
bc) used batteries to electroplate silver. The Egyptians are
said to have electroplated antimony onto copper over 4300 years
In 1899, Waldmar Jungner from Sweden invented the nickel-cadmium
battery, which used nickel for the positive electrode and
cadmium for the negative. Two years later, Edison produced
an alternative design by replacing cadmium with iron. Due
to high material costs compared to dry cells or lead acid
storage batteries, the practical applications of the nickel-cadmium
and nickel-iron batteries were limited.
Toward the end of the 1800s, giant generators and transformers
were built. Transmission lines were installed and electricity
was made available to humanity to produce light, heat and
movement. In the early twentieth century, the invention of
the vacuum tube enabled generating controlled signals, amplifications
and sound. Soon thereafter, radio was invented, which made
wireless communication possible.
It was not until Shlecht and Ackermann invented the sintered
pole plate in 1932 when profound improvements were achieved.
These advancements were reflected in higher load currents
and improved longevity. The sealed nickel-cadmium battery,
as we know it toady, became only available when Neumann succeeded
in completely sealing the cell in 1947.
From the early days on, humanity became dependent on electricity,
a product without which our technological advancements would
not have been possible. With the increased need for mobility,
people moved to portable power storage — first for wheeled
applications, then for portable and finally wearable use.
As awkward and unreliable as the early batteries may have
been, our descendants may one day look at today’s technology
in a similar way to how we view our predecessors’ clumsy experiments
of 200 years ago.
This article contains excerpts from the second
edition book entitled Batteries in a Portable World — A Handbook
on Rechargeable Batteries for Non-Engineers. In the book,
Mr. Buchmann evaluates the battery in everyday use and explains
their strength and weaknesses in laymen’s terms. The 300-page
book is available from Cadex Electronics Inc. through firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 604-231-7777 or most bookstores.
For additional information on battery technology visit www.buchmann.ca.
About the Author
Isidor Buchmann is the founder and CEO of Cadex Electronics
Inc., in Richmond (Vancouver) British Columbia, Canada. Mr.
Buchmann has a background in radio communications and has
studied the behavior of rechargeable batteries in practical,
every day applications for two decades. The author of many
articles and books on battery maintenance technology, Mr.
Buchmann is a well-known speaker who has delivered technical
papers and presentations at seminars and conferences around
About the Company
Cadex Electronics Inc. is a world leader in the design and
manufacture of advanced battery analyzers and chargers. Their
award-winning products are used to prolong battery life in
wireless communications, emergency services, mobile computing,
avionics, biomedical, broadcasting and defense. Cadex products
are sold in over 100 countries.