Lithium-ion batteries have completely revolutionized our modern world. They’re energy-dense, compact, and can handle repeated charge and discharge cycles. They make it possible to have smartphones, laptops, electric vehicles, and off-grid solar power setups. And in our day-to-day life, it’s hard not to take them for granted. But have you ever wondered how they came to be? Or who invented the battery in the first place? Let’s take a deep dive into the history of the battery, why and how it was invented, and how we ultimately found our way to lithium.

Who Invented the Battery and When? 

Scientist started experimenting with capacitors and other early electric devices in the 1700s. But the official inventor of the battery was Italian physicist Alessandro Volta. In the year 1800, Volta created the “voltaic pile.” It consisted of alternating discs of zinc and copper with brine-soaked cardboard in between each layer.

Amazingly, his invention produced a consistent current of electricity. The “voltaic pile” even housed and transported energy during that time. 

Alessandro Volta Battery Inventor
Alessandro Volta: the inventor of the first battery and the man from which the electrical unit of “Volts” comes from.

From the first battery, many other scientists invented additional and more successful designs. These early batteries were what’s called primary batteries, as they were not rechargeable. Users needed to replace the electrolyte and plates when they were used up. It wasn’t until 1860 that scientists invented the rechargeable lead-acid battery.

Where Was the Battery Invented? 

Alessandro Volta invented the battery when he was working as a professor of physics at the University of Pavia in Lombardy, Italy. Many other European countries like France and Germany made many breakthroughs in early battery technology as well. Germany invented the first rechargeable battery.

Why Did We Invent Batteries?

Volta actually came up with the voltaic pile to prove his friend, Luigi Galvani, wrong. Galvani believed that electricity came from animal tissue (a theory known as “animal electricity”). Volta believed that the contact of metals in a moist environment produced electricity.

The telegraph was one of the first regular uses of batteries, although people quickly invented many other uses.

Why Are Batteries Named the Way They Are?

Benjamin Franklin had a role in the invention of batteries, as well. In 1749, he created an early capacitor by linking “Leyden jars.” Leyden jars are essentially glass jars filled with water (or another conducting material) and lined with a metal foil.

The glass jar has a rod coming out from it and passing through a cork. These jars store energy until something touches the end of one of the rods to close the circuit. From this creation, Franklin coined the term “battery,” named after the military term for weapons functioning together. 

Lyden Jars
Lyden Jars can be made today with glass bottles and aluminum foil

What Is a Lithium-Ion Battery? 

Battery technology has come a long way since the creation of the voltaic pile, and lithium-ion batteries are a prime example. A lithium-ion battery is an extremely energy-dense type of battery that has completely transformed our modern world. These powerful little cells use lithium ions to carry a very high current in proportion to their size. They’re now the main batteries we use in laptops, cell phones, electric vehicles, and watches because of their compact form and high energy density. 

Compared to batteries of the past lithium-ion batteries are lighter, smaller, safer, and non-toxic. They also do not emit any toxic gasses and you do not need to vent them like batteries of the past, making installation possible indoors.

Lithium-Ion Batteries consist of many different chemistries, but here at Battle Born Batteries, we focus on the most stable, safe, and longest-lasting chemistry, Lithium Iron Phosphate.

Categories: Batteries


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