Edison: His Life and Inventions - Vol. 2

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

XVIII
EDISON'S NEW STORAGE BATTERY

GENERICALLY considered, a "battery" is a device which generates electric current. There are two distinct species of battery, one being known as "primary," and the other as "storage," although the latter is sometimes referred to as a "secondary battery" or "accumulator." Every type of each of these two species is essentially alike in its general make-up; that is to say, every cell of battery of any kind contains at least two elements of different nature immersed in a more or less liquid electrolyte of chemical character. On closing the circuit of a primary battery an electric current is generated by reason of the chemical action which is set up between the electrolyte and the elements. This involves a gradual consumption of one of the elements and a corresponding exhaustion of the active properties of the electrolyte. By reason of this, both the element and the electrolyte that have been used up must be renewed from time to time, in order to obtain a continued supply of electric current.

The storage battery also generates electric current through chemical action, but without involving the constant repriming with active materials to replace those consumed and exhausted as above mentioned. The term "storage," as applied to this species of battery, is, however, a misnomer, and has been the cause of much misunderstanding to nontechnical persons. To the lay mind a "storage" battery presents itself in the aspect of a device in which electric energy is stored, just as compressed air is stored or accumulated in a tank. This view, however, is not in accordance with facts. It is exactly like the primary battery in the fundamental circumstance that its ability for generating electric current depends upon chemical action. In strict

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