Thanks, Nathan, for helping me out with this.

Notes

  • In 1800, Alessandro Volta invented the first electric battery, the voltaic pile, using alternating copper and zinc discs separated by a cloth soaked in a saltwater solution.
  • In 1812, the Zamboni pile was invented.
  • The original voltaic pile produced 4.56 V, six cells each producing 0.76 V.
  • The voltaic pile was not good for delivering currents for long periods of time and produced hydrogen bubbles which interfered with the metal components.
  • In 1836, British chemist John Frederic Daniell invented the Daniell cell, the first wet cell, which resolved the problems with the voltaic pile
  • The electromotive force of one Daniell cell is 1 V.
  • In 1837, physician Golding Bird invented the Bird’s cell.
  • In 1838, John dancer invented the Porous Pot cell.
  • In 1839, the Grove cell was invented.
  • In 1842, German scientist Johann Christian Poggendorff invented the Poggendorff cell.
  • In 1859, French physicist Gaston Planté invented the first rechargeable battery, the lead-acid battery. It was a wet cell.
  • In the 1860s, the gravity cell was invented.
  • In 1866, French engineer George Leclanché made his own wet cell battery. He improved it by replacing the liquid electrolyte with an ammonium chloride paste. This was technically the first dry cell.
  • In 1881, Camille Faure made his own version of the lead acid battery which used a grid of cast lead packed with lead oxide paste, instead of lead sheets. This improved its ability to supply current. This became the basis of the modern lead-acid battery used in cars.
  • In 1885, Alfred Dun invented the Dun cell.
  • In 1899, Swedish scientist Waldemar Junger invented the nickel-cadmium battery. It was rechargeable. The same year, Junger invented the nickel-iron battery but never bothered patenting it as he found it inferior to the nickel-cadmium. Thomas Edison took the nickel-iron battery design, patented it himself and sold it in 1903.
  • In 1949, the alkaline-manganese battery (or alkaline battery) was developed by Lew Urry. Alkaline batteries could supply more total energy at higher currents than the Leclanché batteries.
  • In 1950, an independent inventor named Samuel Ruben invented the zinc-mercuric oxide alkaline battery.
  • In 1964, Duracell was founded.
  • In the 1970s, the nickel-hydrogen battery was developed.
  • In 1985, the first lithium-ion battery prototype was made.
  • In 1989, the nickel-metal hydride battery was developed.
  • In 1991, the lithium-ion battery was first released by Sony.
  • In 1997, the lithium-ion battery was first released by Sony.
  • Power density is how much power a battery can supply relative to its weight/size.
  • The power density of lead-acid batteries is 40Wh/kg.
  • The power density of nickel-metal hydride batteries is 90Wh/kg.
  • The power density of lithium-ion batteries is 250Wh/kg.
  • Gasoline and diesel have around 13,000Wh/kg and methane has around 15,000Wh/kg.
  • The ten major properties for assessing batteries are specific energy (the total amount of energy a battery can store), specific power (the amount of load current drawn from the battery), affordability, lifespan, safety, toxicity, charging speed, self-discharge and shelf life.
  • In 2014, about 64.5% of revenues in the rechargeable battery market came from lead-acid batteries and 33.4% came from lithium-ion.
  • It is expected that lithium-ion batteries will take over 70% of the rechargeable battery market by 2025.
  • Lead-acid batteries cost around $150/kWh.
  • When they were first released, lithium-ion batteries cost upwards of $3,000/kWh.
  • Nowadays, the cost of lithium-ion batteries is closer to $200/kWh.
  • In 2015, half a million cars were sold in the US with an electric drive component, 14% were BEVs.
  • BEVs make up less than 1% of total auto sales in the US.
  • It is expected that 35% of total global auto sales will be from BEVs by 2040.
  • In the future, lithium-ion batteries might be made using a solid-state design that involves no liquid components at all.
  • A problem with the solid-state lithium-ion battery design is that ions move slower through solid materials. Scientists are working on solutions to this problem.

Script

Batteries, among one of the world’s greatest inventions. I’m here to show you how batteries have evolved over the years, where battery technology is right now and what the future holds. First off, to understand how batteries have changed throughout history we need to go back to the year 1800, when Alessandro Volta invented the world’s first electric battery, the voltaic pile. It consisted of alternating copper and zinc discs separated by a cloth soaked in a saltwater solution. Volta’s invention was revolutionary. However, the voltaic pile was not good for delivering currents for long periods of time. Another problem was that the voltaic pile produced hydrogen bubbles interfered with the metal. These defects were eliminated by British chemist John Frederic Daniell in 1836 with his invention, the Daniell cell. This was the first example of what is called a wet cell. The Daniell cell also defined our modern unit of electromotive force. The amount of electromotive force produced by one Daniell cell is now referred to as a volt (in honour of the man who started it all, Volta). The very first rechargeable battery was invented in 1859 by French physicist Gaston Plante. It was called the lead-acid battery. Like the Daniell cell, the lead-acid battery is a type of wet cell battery, most batteries were during that time. Enter French engineer George Leclanche who developed his own wet cell in 1866. It was quite like previous models but he made it better by replacing the liquid electrolyte in the battery with an ammonium chloride paste. The applications of the battery were more versatile because there was no chance of spilling any liquid. This was basically the first dry cell battery. So, now that you have some of the backstory of the battery, we are now going to focus in on the battery of today. Now, when lithium-ion batteries first came out they were expensive, costing over $3,000/kWh. Nowadays, that number is closer to $200/kWh, thankfully. The point is that the lithium-ion battery is getting cheaper and cheaper. It is expected that by 2025 lithium-ion batteries will have taken over 70% of the rechargeable battery market. Now, there are such things as lithium-polymer batteries which have slightly higher power density than lithium-ion batteries but they are costlier and not as safe to make which is why we have stuck with lithium-ion. That is where we are with rechargeable batteries. So, why aren’t all cars electric? Why are we still burning fossil fuels if ecologically friendly solutions like rechargeable batteries exist? There are many reasons. The big one is power density, the amount of energy a battery can store relative to its weight and size. The power density of a typical lead-acid battery is 40Wh/kg. For nickel-metal hydride batteries, that number is 90Wh/kg. The power density of the top-of-line lithium-ion batteries is 250Wh/kg. Those might sound like big numbers but when you compare them to gasoline or propane or diesel… not so much. Gasoline and diesel fuel come in at around 13,000Wh/kg. For methane, over 15,000Wh/kg. One other thing to consider is that with a rapidly increasing demand for lithium-ion batteries comes an increasing demand for materials which are used to make lithium-ion batteries. You see, lithium-ion batteries are made of more than just lithium. Nickel, cobalt and manganese are some common metals that are used in the making of lithium-ion batteries. Currently, less than 1% of car sales are from battery electric vehicles (or BEVs) but that number is expected to rise to 35% by 2040. That sounds great for environment. Is it really, though? Remember how I said that by 2025, lithium-ion batteries are expected to take over 70% of the rechargeable battery market? The last point I wanted to talk about was the future of the battery, where all of this is heading, what all of this might look like in a few years. So, how can we further improve the battery? One example of an improvement to the lithium-ion battery would be to abandon the liquid electrolyte altogether, allowing for greater power density. The main issue with this solid-state design is that ions move significantly slower through solid materials but scientists are working on designs to solve this issue. Scientists are also working on ways to make the manufacturing of batteries more efficient and ecologically friendly. So, I hope you’re able to see how far we’ve come with battery technology. It truly is amazing what we have accomplished in the last 200 years with the invention of the battery. And I’m sure you will all be amazed by the many anticipated technological advancements of the next decade. Thank you.

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