What Makes Batteries Last? The Science Behind Their Emergence

Batteries are one of the oldest pieces of technology on earth and yet scientists never fully understood its amazing self-propulsion characteristics or how it is a source of power all by itself. This groundbreaking book exposes the real secrets and breakthroughs behind these ancient breakthroughs.

When I was growing up, I used to be given a battery for Christmas. I thought that I was getting a new toy or a new toy to take to school, but I was shocked when it was revealed it was more than just a toy or a toy to take to school. The batteries were the greatest invention since lightning bolt. How were they made? (The answer is they were made by bacteria from bacteria-ridden intestines.) How do they work? (They run off electricity.) What happened when they ran out of juice? (They exploded). There is no other technology that continues to defy and transform our life and culture. It was just a coincidence that batteries were invented in 1874 and 1887. There is more science behind the invention of batteries than there is in the world. It’s amazing what they discovered and invented and they still have not found a replacement.

The Science Behind the Emergence

The authors were able to answer all of the above questions with a combination of physics and chemistry which they then used to develop the first chemical battery in 1893. This paper is published after this invention.

The history of batteries. (Image Credit: The Battery Lab)

In 1896, Charles Perrow and Walter C. Mead published research entitled, The First Chemical Battery . In it, they demonstrated a way of converting lead by electrolysis to electricity.

Here is the process:

Perrow and Mead’s Battery:

The battery consists of two electrodes (electrodes) which are separated by a membrane. A small amount of electrolyte (salt) is placed between the two electrodes.


In the course of charging, the salt separates the iron atoms from their oxygen (hydrogen atoms). In this process, the salt is oxidized, producing hydroxide ions (OH+, OH-) and an iron atom ( Fe2+) has been liberated. (The oxygen atoms, however, remain attached to the oxygen atom of the iron atom.) These OH+ ions (and therefore oxygen atoms) in the electrolyte become charged (electrically), resulting in the release of electrons and a current. In general, the electrolysis of a battery produces very few or even negative electrons, because the charge of the iron atom in the electrolyte prevents the free electrons from escaping.

Hence the battery does not perform well on a full charge. In fact, the battery is used as a power source for many appliances and devices today. I can easily imagine a battery in which the battery’s power source is built in such a way that the battery cannot be used for its intended purpose (for example, by a light, motor, or device). The authors of the Perrow-Mead paper demonstrated that their battery could charge without the loss of the batteries’ electricity. This is the key insight of modern batteries.

This paper is published under the following names:

Filed under: Biochemistry

This is a great book as well with a great history of batteries. It has been called a “must read” or a book you MUST read.

In 1892, George L. Surdam took the idea of making the first chemical battery from Perrow and Mead and turned it into a full-fledged science. They were so impressed with the concept that they published an article in the Chemical News for it. In this article, which was entitled, “Groups and Solutions”, it was shown that the electrolysis reactions performed in Perrow’s battery had the same result as the reaction that Perrow and Mead performed (sulfuric acid reduction). After the second article appeared that year, Surdam applied for a patent, and in 1903 he was granted the patent he asked for. He then further increased the number of metals in the battery, which provided an additional energy source. Since then, the battery has not stopped changing, even though each version has contained many additions. Surdam’s battery contains lead, mercury, antimony, copper and zinc. They have always found new ways to make this battery work and to increase the energy production.