Batteries have come a long way since the first battery was invented in 1800 by Alessandro Volta (and there are many online resources available that detail early battery development). The nineteenth century brought great advances in batteries through contributions from many visionaries, even though some of the technical theories put forth are now considered flawed. (Check out this Khan Academy video for an interesting exchange between Volta and Galvani on the theory of battery operation). Key developments in the 19th century include the invention of the Daniell cell, the first lead acid battery, Lenclanché cells and nickel-cadmium battery development, all of which paved the way for vast strides in battery technology in the 20th century (Check out this blog article from Battery University that lists many of the historical battery developments up to the 20th century).
In this blog article we have created a list of great battery review papers that cover the period from mid-20th century through the early 21st century. We have included papers that span several years or decades with the intent of presenting technology and material developments in batteries. We think you should certainly give these a read if you are embarking on new product development that needs application specific batteries. While most of these are long reads, we hope you will save these for reference to come back to again and again.
Battery Research Review Papers
Here are 5 great research review papers on battery developments that we have compiled. (We have included links to research gate where you can access many journal articles for free).
Batteries 50 years of Materials Development, R. M. Dell
This is a comprehensive review of fifty years of materials development in batteries up to the year 2000. Different battery technologies using varied chemistries are discussed for a wide range of application segments. The author chronicles developments in Zinc- carbon cells (both the low drain intermittent use Leclanché type and the higher drain more expensive Zinc-chloride batteries which came to replace Leclanché cells in the market). The article then details primary alkaline manganese dioxide cells which provide even higher drain rates and shelf life than zinch chloride cells although at a higher cost, and rechargeable alkaline manganese (RAM) cells which offer a safer alternative to Ni-Cd rechargeable batteries but lower cycle life.Another key mid – century battery development was the introduction of button and coin cells (first with mercury oxide cathodes and then with silver oxide both systems using alkaline electrolytes) for use in watches, hearing aids, car alarms and key locks. Lithium cells have replaced many of the alkaline cells in this segment. A zinc-air battery which is half fuel cell and half battery, has found popular use in hearing aid applications.Dell also discusses scientific developments in battery materials as well as technology advances in electrode and battery manufacturing for lead acid batteries and nickel based rechargeable cells (nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, nickel -hydrogen).Lithium batteries are not explored in this paper in any detail – however an overview of various lithium chemistries which are suited for different applications is provided.
Lithium batteries a 50 year perspective, Colin A.Vincent
This paper, which was published in 2000, is a great complement to R.M.Dell’s paper, and discusses 50 years of lithium battery developments. Key enablers for lithium primary technology including the development of non-aqueous electrolytes and optimization of the SEI layer are outlined. For secondary lithium batteries, the key developments were in electrode development based on intercalation compounds allowing deep cycling without significant loss in capacity. Another development was the replacement of lithium metal negative electrodes with carbon based electrodes, owing to safety considerations.
Lithium batteries, status prospects and future , Bruno Scrosati, Jurge Garche
This paper, published in 2009, is a continuation of where Vincent’s paper culminates around 2000 (and starts with a nice visual depiction on the working principle of lithium ion batteries). This work is focused on electric vehicles and, therefore, the main goals are improvements in specific energy, safety, and reliability. The authors discuss replacement of carbon based negative electrodes with lithium metal alloys, anode and cathode material improvements, and work done on electrolytes to improve safety. The latter includes solid state solvent-free electrolytes which work great from a safety perspective, but do not provide sufficient conductivity. Another option which presents a compromise on conductivity without fully eliminating safety issues, is a solid liquid hybrid formed by gelling liquid lithium solutions. Ionic liquids are an emerging class of electrolytes that do away with safety issues, but pose stability problems for cathodic materials.
Batteries 1977 to 2002, Ralph J. Brodd, Kathryn R. Bullock, Randolph A. Leising, Richard L. Middaugh, John R. Miller Esther Takeuchi
This paper covers 25 years of battery development from 1977 to 2002. While there is overlap between this review and the other papers listed here, the authors provide great detail on many of the processing steps that have led to service life or performance improvements. They also discuss battery technologies for various implantable medical applications. There is a section on electrochemical capacitors as well, and a comprehensive list of references. So we think this paper is a nice complement to the earlier set of papers.
When put together, we think these 5 papers provide a good overview of the battery landscape. If you prefer online sources where you can research specific battery topics, check out our blog article on battery educational websites. The FlexEl blog is another great resource for learning about battery technology and potential applications. Subscribe today to get automatic updates in your inbox.
Topics in this article: Battery Resources