Edison: His Life and Inventions - Vol. 2

By Frank Lewis Dyer; Thomas Commerford Martin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EDISON STORAGE
BATTERY

IT is more than a hundred years since the elementary principle of the storage battery or "accumulator" was detected by a Frenchman named Gautherot; it is just fifty years since another Frenchman, named Planté, discovered that on taking two thin plates of sheet lead, immersing them in dilute sulphuric acid, and passing an electric current through the cell, the combination exhibited the ability to give back part of the original charging current, owing to the chemical changes and reactions set up. Planté coiled up his sheets into a very handy cell like a little roll of carpet or pastry; but the trouble was that the battery took a long time to "form." One sheet becoming coated with lead peroxide and the other with finely divided or spongy metallic lead, they would receive current, and then, even after a long period of inaction, furnish or return an electromotive force of from 1.85 to 2.2 volts. This ability to store up electrical energy produced by dynamos in hours otherwise idle, whether driven by steam, wind, or water, was a distinct advance in the art; but the sensational step was taken about 1880, when Faure in France and Brush in America broke away from the slow and weary process of "form-

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