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Below you will find some important dates in the development of batteries and fuel cells in general and the specific battery types we have talked about here and their usage in electric vehicles.

1748 - Benjamin Franklin first coined the term "battery"
  • 1748 - Benjamin Franklin first coined the term "battery" to describe an array of charged glass plates.
  • 1780 to 1786 - Luigi Galvani demonstrated what we now understand to be the electrical basis of nerve impulses and provided the cornerstone of research for later inventors like Volta.
  • 1800 - Alessandro Volta invented the voltaic pile and discovered the first practical method of generating electricity. Constructed of alternating discs of zinc and copper with pieces of cardboard soaked in brine between the metals, the voltic pile produced electrical current. The metallic conducting arc was used to carry the electricity over a greater distance. Alessandro Volta's voltaic pile was the first "wet cell battery" that produced a reliable, steady current of electricity.
    This is an illustration of the trough battery created by Alessandro Volta.Credit: Wikimedia Commons
  • 1836 - Englishman, John F. Daniel invented the Daniel Cell that used two electrolytes: copper sulfate and zinc sulfate. The Daniel Cell was somewhat safer and less corrosive then the Volta cell.
  • 1839 - William Robert Grove developed the first fuel cell, which produced electrical by combining hydrogen and oxygen.
  • 1859 - French inventor, Gaston Plante developed the first practical storage lead-acid battery that could be recharged.
  • 1866 - Georges Leclanche patented the carbon-zinc wet cell battery called the Leclanche cell.
  • 1868 - Twenty thousand of Georges Leclanche's cells were now being used with telegraph equipment.
  • 1881 - Carl Gassner invented the first commercially successful dry cell battery (zinc-carbon cell).
  • 1899 - Waldmar Jungner invented the first nickel-cadmium (NiCd) rechargeable battery.
  • 1901 - Thomas Alva Edison invented the alkaline storage battery.
  • 1949 - Lew Urry invented the small alkaline battery.
  • 1959 - Bacon and his colleagues demonstrated a practical five-kilowatt unit capable of powering a welding machine.
  • 1960s - Pratt and Whitney licensed Bacon's U.S. patents for use in the U.S. space program to supply electricity and drinking water (hydrogen and oxygen being readily available from the spacecraft tanks).
  • 1970s - First discussion of the possibility of NiMh and Lithium Ion batteries.
  • 1989 - NiMh batteries available for small commercial applications.
  • 1991 - Lithium Ion batteries available.
  • 1996 - GM unveils the EV 1, a fully electric car run on lead acid batteries.
  • Early 2000s - Most hybrids build with NiCd batteries.
  • Late 2000s - Some NiMH batteries begin replacing NiCd. Lithium Ion becomes popular in after-market conversions.
  • 2008 - Honda unveils the first hydrogen fuel cell car, the FCX Clarity.
  • 2010 - Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid will run on NiMh batteries.
  • 2010 - Tesla Roadster will use a bank of Lithium Ion batteries.
Even more: News and the FAQ - Battery History
History of the battery.
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Wikipedia - Fuel Cells
Wikipedia article on hydrogen fuel cells
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Wikipedia - Fuel Cells
Wikipedia article on hydrogen fuel cells
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