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The history of the battery
2) Primary batteries

[1] The air battery (zinc-air battery)

There are two types of air batteries, the wet type (no longer used) and the dry type. The wet type was first conceived by a Frenchman named Ferry in 1907. Ferry's battery used carbon at the positive electrode (more accurately, oxygen was the positive electrode material, with carbon as the catalyst, and acting as a collector), and zinc at the negative electrode, with ammonium chloride as the electrolyte.

In Japan, the first company to market zinc-air batteries was Furukawa Battery Co., Ltd., (then called Furukawa Electric Industries) in 1935. Matsushita Battery Industrial Co., Ltd. (currently Panasonic Energy) started producing zinc-air batteries in 1985, and Toshiba Battery Co., Ltd. in 1987. Advantages of air batteries include: (a) minimized voltage fluctuations when discharging; (b) reduced effects of temperature, enabling them to be used in cold or hot climates; and (c) a large energy capacity. They are used in electromagnetic telephone exchanges and track circuits of railroad crossing warnings, and railway signals in the USA. The size of the AWS-500 as shown in the picture measures 180 mm (diameter) x 315 mm (height). The discharge characteristics are also illustrated as a reference. However, these applications have disappeared, and in 1951 the JIS standards were discontinued. In about the same period, the dry type zinc-air battery was also commercialized, and it was about the same size as the wet type.

Button-type zinc-air batteries, currently used in hearing aids and other devices, were developed and marketed for the first time by the US company Gould (the battery section of which was bought out by Duracell). In Japan the development of dry zinc-air batteries started in the early 1980s, but their related patents were not open to the public, so the production of the products did not start at that time. Later, Duracell purchased and released the patents, and production started in 1986.

[2] The silver-oxide battery

In 1960, the US company, Eveready Industries, commercialized the world's first button-type silver-oxide battery. In Japan, Hitachi Maxell, Ltd. commercialized a button-type silver-oxide battery for the first time in Japan in 1976. As Japanese quartz watches started to dominate the world market, sales of the silver-oxide batteries that drive them also grew. Along with the advances in IC chips in the computing machine field, electronic calculators became widely used, and compact calculators incorporating mainly silver-oxide batteries were produced in large volumes. Later, portable electronic game machines became popular with children, and this also contributed to the growth in the use of silver-oxide batteries.

However, from 1979 to 1980, the market price of silver soared, and the price of silver-oxide batteries jumped several-fold. This prompted the development of the button-type alkaline manganese battery and coin-type lithium primary battery to replace the silver-oxide battery, and also prompted the use of solar batteries in calculators. As a result, there are now very few new products that use silver-oxide batteries, even though the price of silver has come down.

However, wrist watches became much smaller and thinner, and they were designed to consume far less electric power. The batteries also improved with higher capacity and better anti-leakage designs as well as high performance at lower temperatures. Thus, silver-oxide batteries became used exclusively in watches, and the volume production has steadily expanded.

[3] The button-type alkaline manganese button battery

With the market price soar of silver, electronic calculators, game machines, and other products that had used silver-oxide batteries started to switch to other battery types. The battery that most easily took its place because of its size was the button-type alkaline manganese battery.

The button-type alkaline manganese battery had already been produced since the mid-1970s, but that production exploded in 1979 as the market price of silver rose and the button-type alkaline manganese battery replaced the silver-oxide battery. However, most electronic calculators converted to use solar batteries, while game machines that use a TV screen became more popular, so small game machines all but disappeared, and the demand for button-type alkaline manganese batteries dropped rapidly.

However, because of their low price, button-type alkaline manganese batteries are still used for some wrist watches, clocks, and musical greeting cards.

[4] The lithium primary battery

The lithium primary battery is considered to be the closest thing to the ideal battery because of its energy density, and at the end of the 1950s, this battery began to be used in space development programs in the U.S.A. In 1976, Matsushita Battery Industrial Company Ltd. (currently Panasonic Energy) commercialized the fluorographite lithium battery for the first time in Japan.

Some of the more typical materials used for the positive electrode in lithium primary batteries are fluorographite, manganese dioxide, copper oxide, thionyl chloride, and sulfur dioxide, which have a varying amount of voltage.

However, when digital wrist watches with liquid crystal displays appeared, lithium primary batteries featuring a very small self-discharge characteristics were used, and these wrist watches could run for more than 6 years, more than two times longer than watches with silver-oxide batteries. As a result, the number of digital watches and other devices that used coin-type lithium primary batteries began to grow. The price rise of silver in 1979, and TV game software that used batteries as a backup power source became popular around 1985. These two events contributed to the rapid growth in the number of coin-type lithium primary batteries. In addition to watches, these batteries were widely used in fully automatic cameras.

Currently, they are widely used to power the headlamps, fully automatic cameras, LED lights, personal computers, home electric appliances and office equipment, as well as various types of memory backups.

[5] The high-performance zinc-carbon battery

Until about 1956, portable radios that used vacuum tubes were widely proliferated, and these devices used a B power supply, which consisted of high voltage layer-built dry-abtteries (available with 18 types, B1 to B18, which were either 45V or 22.5V, and these batteries were connected in series to achieve high voltage). Once transistors replaced vacuum tubes and low-voltage, energy-efficient electronic devices became popular, and the D, C, A, and 9V (called the 006P because it consists of 6 The Yai dry-cell batteries) battery sizes that we have today became popular for portable devices. At the same time, the demand rose for high-performance zinc-carbon batteries with good discharge characteristics and anti-leakage properties.

In 1963, Matsushita Electronic Industrial Co. Ltd. (currently Panasonic Corporation) introduced a high-performance zinc-carbon battery. By improving the structure and using an electrolytic manganese dioxide, this battery provided twice the discharge time of previous batteries. This spurred the development of new devices powered by zinc-carbon batteries, such as electric shavers, tape recorders, and radio-cassette players. This battery used a red metallic outer label.

[6] The super-high-performance zinc-carbon battery

In 1969 all battery manufacturers began to sell super-high-performance dry batteries. Because they had a black color scheme, batteries with a red outer label became associated with high-performance, while those with black became associated with super-high-performance. The black model has 1.5 times the discharge time of the red one.

[7] The alkaline dry battery (alkaline manganese battery)

The alkaline dry battery had a manganese dioxide positive electrode, a zinc negative electrode, and a potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide electrolyte. The principle had been known for a long time, but the first practical application of it was in 1947 when the flat battery called the "crown cell" went on sale in the U.S.A.

Hitachi Maxell, Ltd. began selling this battery in 1964. The capacity of this battery was twice that of a zinc-carbon battery of the same size, and it was used in devices that required a large electric current. It is important to mention that demand for alkaline manganese batteries was boosted in 1980 with the development of cameras with an autofocus and built-in flash, then again in 1985 with the introduction of the headphone stereo, and again in 1988 with the popularity of the mini 4WDs. More recently, the popularity of digital cameras has contributed to improvements in battery performance.