Link to Legrand: Connecting the Dots with Battery Power
Batteries, batteries, batteries….
Triple A’s, Double A’s. Are we talking about baseball teams? What about the C’s and D’s? No! It’s not my grades back in school!
Batteries today come in all different shapes and sizes, from miniature hearing aid batteries and coin sized cells to huge tanks for solar farm power storage. We use batteries of all shapes and sizes in so many applications in our everyday lives, including everything from wrist watches to cellphones, cars, airplanes and solar farms.
They provide us with portable power and mobility to use the things we have come to enjoy or need. Batteries back up our data systems when the power grid goes down, provide us light in dark places, and even save our lives when we are in trouble.
How Did It All Start?
Back in the mid-1700s, about the same time that Ben Franklin flew his famous kite in the thunderstorm, a French botanist got a shock from touching a catfish and wondered how such an animal could produce electricity. Further investigations showed that some types of eels even produced sparks! The researchers at the time considered the phenomenon as “animal electricity”.1
A French university chemistry professor, named Alessandro Volta, had a long debate with an anatomy colleague about why a frog’s legs “twitched” when he touched them with metal clips. Volta proved that the different metal clips produced the electricity. After further study, he invented the first battery based on a stack of different metal discs spaced by brine soaked felt discs. He called his new device an “artificial electric organ”, or otherwise known as a “voltaic pile”. This invention of the first battery soon led to his fame and fortune, and more importantly, led to the science of electrochemistry and the battery technology we have today.2
Today’s Batteries And The Science of Electrochemistry
The batteries, we use today in our everyday devices such as radios, flashlights, and other handy portable gadgets, are constructed of the same basic components that Volta used in his voltaic pile. In fact, the science of electrochemistry (chemical reactions that utilize and produce electricity) is rapidly advancing the development of new battery types with greater efficiencies, cost-effective energy storage, intrinsic safety, and recharge-ability.
A basic battery, or electrochemical cell, is usually made up of differing metallic anodes and cathodes immersed in a material called an electrolyte. Proper materials must be chosen so that the anodes and cathodes can chemically react with the electrolyte to produce electrons that flow through the wires connected to your powered devices, such as a flashlight bulb. At the same time, ions (charged atoms) flow through the electrolyte between the electrodes inside the battery.
The electrical energy is stored in the battery in the form of chemical energy.3 The battery simply converts that chemical energy into the electrical energy that powers your connected device. The anode is the negative terminal on the battery and the cathode is the positive terminal. The electrons flow from anode to cathode as shown below, and the ions flow through the electrolyte in the opposite direction:
What Are Some of The New Battery Technologies?
Electric vehicles, solar energy, and government-funded energy storage initiatives have heightened the search for compact, efficient, rapidly-chargeable, high-capacity, long-life and low-cost batteries. New startup companies are appearing with specific initiatives to create new battery chemistry and form-factors for applications such as electric vehicle propulsion, energy grid and solar power storage, IoT mobile devices, and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) for data centers.6
In Summary, How Do The New Battery Technologies Affect Me?
Legrand is continually looking at new ways to provide our customers with better products that offer cost-effective solutions and total cost-of-ownership efficiencies to deliver power, light, and data (PLD) where it’s needed.9 Battery power is an integral part of the solutions for transportation, security, illumination, and countless other applications that we sometimes take for granted. Looking ahead, you are bound to see some astounding leaps in battery developments that would make Alessandro Volta proud.
In the future, we plan to closely follow the industry research on new battery technologies. Some of this research includes developments in various battery chemistry and new structural designs, including solid-state lithium-ion technology, piezoelectricity, and lengthening battery life with graphene carbon coatings.7 These advancements will offer valuable power storage solutions for renewable energy, power grids and data centers. So, don’t be shocked when we get back to you with another battery of CtDs.
References And Further Reading
1,2 Conquering the Electron, the Geniuses, Visionaries, Egomaniacs and Scoundrels Who Built Our Electronic Age, Copyright 2014, by Derek Cheung and Eric Brach, Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.
3 How does a battery work? Your watch, laptop, and laser-pointer are all powered by the same thing: chemistry…, by Mary Bates, MIT School of Engineering, Ask an Engineer, May 1, 2012
4 Photo of Electrochemical cell taken from: How a Battery Works, the Australian Academy of Science, (Image Source: Andy Simmons/Flickr)
5 Photo of the battery cross-section taken from: Anatomy of a Battery Cell, Animas Organs, June 4th, 2017, http://go.legrand.us/e/84502/anatomy-of-a-battery-cell/c6rv8x/390526091
6 What does the future hold for battery technology? - Batteries of the future, The Australian Academy of science, http://go.legrand.us/e/84502/nology-future-batteries-future/c6rv8z/390526091
7 Graphene Oxide Nanosheets for Lithium-Metal Batteries, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, Tech Briefs Magazine, August 2018, www.techbriefs.com
8 Photo of Redox Flow Battery taken from: Wikipedia, http://go.legrand.us/e/84502/wiki-Flow-battery/c6rv94/390526091
9 Connecting Low Voltage PoE LED Lighting, Legrand’s Connecting the Dots series, By Rudy Montgelas, October 12, 2016
10 The CTD Authors: HaHa//WeCan’tHelpOuselves@WeJustLovePuns.COMedy