Batteries are the center piece of our modern life if you think about it. Your phone , your laptop , your smartwatch, your car , your remote , everything needs them but most of us don’t know anything about them. In a very basic description, a battery is a container filled with an electrolytic chemical and some metal. It creates a chemical reaction that creates electricity.
The first battery was the Voltaic pile created in 1799 but the first stable and practical battery was made in 1836. It was called the Daniel cell , made by a British chemist called John Frederic Daniell. The standard, modern alkaline batteries (like those you use on your tv remote) came out around the 60s by an engineer called Lewis Urry.
Batteries come in all types , shapes and sizes. The most common ones are the dry cells , alkaline AA cells . They are called dry cells because the electrolytic chemical used is in a paste form and have little moisture. Another type is the wet cell where the electrolytic chemical (you guess it!) is a liquid but they are not really practical anymore seeing use only for learning purposes.
In a world that uses more and more renewable energy batteries are really important. The problem with renewable energy (or at least some types of it like solar and wind power) is the production of energy is not stable. Some times the network produces too much some times too little. So we need to store that energy somewhere when we don’t need it and use it sometime else. The thing is though we are not that great in creating huge chemical batteries that can handle so much energy. You can not just take an AA battery cell and just scale it up. Not to even mention , when the battery dies, how can we treat all that electrolytic chemicals that are highly toxic for us and the environment if they escape? The solution comes in the form of mechanical energy. Think of this: What if we had two huge water tanks, one high and one low, both of them are connected through a pipe with a water turbine, so it can spin a dynamo to generate energy, and another pipe with a pump so it can pump water back up. This is actually how the biggest battery works (although it is not your typical battery) in Virginia,USA. The Bath County Pumped Storage Station , as it is called, can store over 24,000 MWh. To give you a context of how big this number is 24,000 MWh, you could power 1,500 average american homes for about a year in a single charge. That’s really impressive! You might also have thought that for a battery of this type and capacity you probably need a ton of space and you are right! The Bath County Pumped Storage Station reservoirs are a combined 820 acres.
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