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History of Battery Development

1600 Gilbert (England) Establishment electrochemistry study
1791 Galvani (Italy) Discovery of ‘animal electricity’
1800 Volta (Italy) Invention of the voltaic cell
1802 Cruickshank (England) First electric battery capable of mass production
1820 Ampère (France) Electricity through magnetism
1833 Faraday (England) Announcement of Faraday’s Law
1836 Daniell (England) Invention of the Daniell cell
1859 Planté (France) Invention of the lead acid battery
1868 Leclanché (France) Invention of the Leclanché cell
1888 Gassner (USA) Completion of the dry cell
1899 Jungner (Sweden) Invention of the nickel-cadmium battery
1901 Edison (USA) Invention of the nickel-iron battery
1932 Shlecht & Ackermann (Germany) Invention of the sintered pole plate
1947 Neumann (France) Successfully sealing the nickel-cadmium battery
Mid 1960 Union Carbide (USA) Development of primary alkaline battery
Mid 1970   Development of valve regulated lead acid battery
1990   Commercialization nickel-metal hydride battery
1992 Kordesch (Canada) Commercialization reusable alkaline battery
1999   Commercialization lithium-ion polymer
2001   Anticipated volume production of proton exchange membrane fuel cell

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 ago.

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 book@cadex.com, 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 the world.

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.

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