For all our lives we’ve experienced using some kind of batteries. Still, they’ve been changing and evolving quite a bit during the last decades. Have a look at our guide for modern batteries.

 

A bit of history

Alessandro Volta

The batteries have been around for a while now. The first proven prototype battery was created back in 1800 by Alessandro Volta. 

Very basic and large and, to be honest, a bit dangerous, the first battery consisted of several Voltaic cells, which are, in essence, two sheets of metal with different electron affinities and electrolyte solutions around them. Many of these cells made up the battery.

Further research led to the first rechargeable battery in 1836 by John F. Daniell and the first NiCd battery in 1899 by Waldemar Jungner, which remained the only rechargeable battery for about a century.

It was not before 1991 when Sony introduced the first Li-Ion battery. But ever since, these have been the preferred option. Moreover, these are the leading developing battery technology today.

 

The science behind

Overall the battery, any battery, consists of an anode (negative electrode) and a cathode (positive electrode), divided by a separator, and an electrolyte liquid around them, pretty much like Volta’s cells. The difference, and the development, mainly concerns the materials involved.

basic battery structure

A chemical reaction results in electrons flowing from anode to cathode. If you provide an easy transfer route for those electrons, aka a wire, this turns into an electric current used to power devices.

In this context, the battery cell’s electrochemical potential and its Voltage depend on the difference of the standard potential between the anode and cathode materials. 

 

The types of batteries

All the batteries can be divided into two categories: rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries.

Among the non-rechargeable batteries most widespread types are as follows:

  1. Alkaline batteries
  2. Coin cell batteries

The most widely used rechargeable batteries are:

  1. Lead-acid batteries
  2. Ni-Cd batteries
  3. Ni-MH batteries
  4. Li-Ion batteries
  5. Li-polymer batteries

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many different battery types, which we will talk about in detail in a separate post.


Most used today

The most used batteries today are Li-ion and Li-polymer batteries. They are the best-known compromise of safety, capacity, size and weight, cost, and longevity.

li-ion battery

Li-ion batteries are the second largest segment in the general battery industry, following the lead-acid batteries, which are the standard in cars. The Li-ion batteries face the fastest growth in the market, especially with the new developments making them lighter and aiming to make them cheaper.


Latest developments

The primary research nowadays goes around the Li-ion batteries, searching for solutions to make them the higher capacity, smaller, lighter, cheaper.

Among the latest advancements already in use are graphene batteries.

There is a number of research and development of new and better chemical solutions. Most of these are based on Li-ion batteries. But some focus on other chemical principles that are not so widespread and known.

graphene battery

Many creators, including Elon Musk, promise a breakthrough in batteries very soon, especially in connection with the electric vehicles market. They need batteries that store a lot of energy in small size and are cost-efficient.

There are many ways and directions the batteries innovation can and will go towards, but that is a topic for a whole different post or even a few.

 

What’s next

With the thinning out of the fuel resources and increasing concern around climate change and its consequences, the future is renewable energy. 

The main issue with that you can’t produce energy 24/7. Energy production depends highly on external circumstances. This results in the need for high-capacity batteries capable of storing energy in large quantities. 

renewable energy

For example, you produce energy from your solar panels during the day and store it for use at night or on super cloudy days. This is almost impossible right now due to such capacity batteries’ cost and size. Moreover, there are some increased safety issues connected with such large capacities.

So, we’re sure to see a lot of development in the batteries’ capacity to size ratio and the longevity and discharging circles number.



Wrap Up

Batteries are considered the main drawback for further consumer technology development today. We’ve not gone too far from the initial ones we had in eighteen-hundreds, which is a bummer. Still, it is about to change.

It will be an exciting time to live and watch things change. I am going to follow the story closely as it makes itself. Subscribe to our blog to follow it with me.