Från koppar till litium – en parad av uppfinnare
Alessandro Volta: In Volta’s pile the cell is designed with three types of conductor: a plate of copper, one made of zinc, and between these two, a piece of card or similar dipped in saline and therefore having conducting properties. This design produced a constant current of charges, a voltage which came to be called 1 volt. By connecting the cells in series, the desired voltage could be obtained.
Michael Faraday: During the first half of the nineteenth century, the Englishman Michael Faraday contributed to the development of batteries. In the field of electrolysis he coined the terms anode, cathode, electrode, separator and electrolyte. He also created a precursor of an electric motor. The term farad, the unit for measuring electrical capacity, was named after Michael Faraday.
John Daniell: The British chemist John Daniell improved the electric cell by using copper and zinc in a liquid consisting of sulphuric acid. This cell produced an even voltage much more efficiently than Volta’s solution.
Gaston Planté: Solutions which produced current were good, but if the battery could be recharged, that would be a big step forward. Frenchman Gaston Planté was the person who in the second half of the 19th century invented a rechargeable battery, or accumulator: the lead-acid battery. This technology is used nowadays in car batteries.
The technology in a rechargeable battery is based on chemical energy being converted to electrical energy when the battery is in use. When the battery is then charged, electrical current/voltage is converted to chemical energy.
Carl Gassner: The first dry battery cell, with zinc and carbon, was invented by Frenchman Carl Gassner. The term dry battery comes from the fact that a thickening agent holds the electrolyte in place so that the battery works irrespective of its position.
Georges Leclanché: The battery known as the Leclanché cell containing zinc and manganese dioxide was invented by Frenchman Georges Leclanché and could be manufactured cheaply.
Waldemar Jungner: At the turn of the 19th century, Swede Waldemar Jungner invented the first alkali battery, which originally consisted of nickel and iron and could be recharged. The iron was later replaced by cadmium, which resulted in twice the capacity.
Because cadmium is a toxic substance, since 2006 there has been an EU directive prohibiting NiCd batteries in consumer products, with a few exceptions.
One metal which aroused the interest of many scientists over the years is lithium. Already in 1910, experiments had started with this metal. It was not however until the 1970s that the first lithium batteries appeared on the market. They were not rechargeable.
Akira Yoshino: In 1985, Akira Yoshino and his team constructed the first lithium-ion battery prototype. Their work drew on the research of the American chemist John Goodenough and French scientist Rachid Yazami. Lithium-ion batteries developed quickly and were launched on the market by Sony in 1991.
The three main components in a lithium-ion battery are the anode (made from carbon, usually graphite), the cathode (a metallic oxide, such as lithium cobalt oxide) and the electrolyte (a lithium salt in an organic solution). Lithium-ion batteries are more stable than conventional lithium batteries and have the significant advantage of being rechargeable.
Lithium-ion batteries occur in various contexts, both large and small, from cameras, watches, mobile phones etc. to forklifts and cars (the Tesla Roadster electric car, for instance). By tailoring the battery pack consisting of small powerful long-life and environmentally friendly battery cells, we can create attractive energy solutions in a wide variety of forms, including that of a power source in larger contexts.
The batteries of most computers, mobile phones and other small electronic products are a version of the lithium-ion battery, called the lithium polymer battery or LiPo battery, first appearing in 1997. A polymer is used both as a separator and for holding the electrolyte. The battery’s components are laminated together and form a flexible and malleable battery. What is gained in flexibility is however lost in capacity compared to the normal lithium-ion battery.
This long journey of research and development has made it possible to replace the old, heavy and environmentally hazardous lead acid batteries with a battery cell pack based on lithium-ion technology. Alelion’s lithium-ion batteries offer a simple and environmentally friendly way of combining a large number of battery cells to form a battery pack with sufficient power to power vehicles, such as fork lifts and cars.