Electrical/Electronic inventions that changed the world – The Battery (1799)

A battery or ‘cell’ is a device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy. When two are more cells are joined together in such a way that the electrical current generated from each cell flows in the same direction, the combination of cells is referred to as a ‘battery of cells’.

There are two basic types of batteries: the primary non rechargeable battery where generation of electrical energy ceases when chemical reactions to generate electrical energy becomes exhausted. The second type is the rechargeable battery where electrical energy is injected into the battery to restore/recharge chemical energy to allow for chemical reactions to take place. The recharge cycle being repeatable.

The battery originated with Alexandro Volta (1745-1827) who in 1799 invented the ‘voltaic pile’ a pile/stack of silver and zinc discs separated by pieces of fabric saturated with salt water, that supplied an electrical current when connected by a wire. Volta’s work was based on that of Luigi Galvani who had noticed that a dead frog’s legs twitched when they came into contact with two different types of metal.

Each cell had two terminals, or electrodes, a positively charge ‘anode’ and a negatively charge ‘cathode’, suspended in a liquid known as the electrolyte. Over the next few years a number of inventors developed other combinations of metal and electrolyte to produce more efficient batteries. In the 1880’s a solid electrolyte was used and the contents were encased in covers and were known as dry cells. The first portable safe device known as the ‘Flashlight’, was produced in 1896.

In 1859 Gaston Planté, a French physicist, produced a storage battery which could be recharged and was similar in principal to the battery used in motor vehicles today. In this battery lead plates were immersed in sulphuric acid.


Recently Dr Robert Brown (Robert), Executive Director of Fraser George and Associates Limited was instructed in a legal matter were the fundamental purpose of a battery was questioned, i.e. as a device to store electrical charge or as a device to generate electrical energy.


Eur Ing Dr Robert Brown (Robert) is a Consultant and Forensic Engineer in the fields Electrical Electronic and Control Engineering.


Robert is an accomplished professional Expert Witness having prepared and presented many court compliant reports and presented oral evidence within the High Court, Crown Courts and County Courts.


For further information please contact Robert via;


Email,…robert.brown@frasergeorge.com   or   robertbrown@robertbrown.uk.com


Tel Land: +44 (0)1777 709175

Tel Mobile: +44 (0) 7976250624








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