Electrochemical energy storage using batteries has become one of the enabling technologies of the 21st Century. Whether it’s a smaller and lighter cell phone or laptop computer, a longer-range electric vehicle, or stabilizing a renewable energy power grid, batteries are changing the way we look at our future.
On the scale of human history, the battery is a relatively recent invention, having only been discovered and developed in a little more than 200 years. More recently, and particularly in the past three decades, new innovations in battery electrochemistry have pushed the technology at breakneck speeds, making possible the electrification of many aspects of our daily life.
Here, we will have a brief look at some of the earliest battery ideas, progressing to the modern day and even into the near future to help understand how this energy storage device will continue to influence our lives far into the future.
Opening image: Submarines in World War I and World War II counted on battery packs to allow them to operate submerged for hours at a time. (Image source: Exide Technologies)
Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.