Today is Alessandro Volta’s 270th birthday.He was born on 18 February 1745 and died on 5 March 1827 and was a Italian physicist.He was the first one to invent the world’s first electrical battery named as ‘ Volatic pile’.It was invented by him in the year 1799.He presented the result in 1800 to the President of the Royal Society in two part letter.According to this battery electricity can be generated chemically.His invention sparked all around the world and let others to perform and build similar kind of projects which led to development of the field electrohemistry. He was also admired by the Napoleon Bonaparte for his invention and was invited to demonstrate the project at the Institute of France.He arranged to manage a number of times of honour by the emperor him self. He also made to study experimental physics at University of Pavia nearly for 40 years and was admired by the students of the University.Even after his professional success, he remained to be a person inclined towards his domestic life in his apparent years.He died in 1827 due to a series of illness which he started facing in 1823 and in name of his honour, the SI unit of electric potential is named as Volt.
The first battery creation
While announcing his discovery of voltaic cell or voltaic pile, he paid tribute to the influences made by William Nicholson,Abraham Bennet and Tiberius Cavallo.
The battery made by him is named as the first electrochemical cell in which it consists of two electrodes; one made of zinc and another made of copper.The electrolyte used is either sulfuric acid mixed with sufficient amount of water or a form of saltwater brine.Electrolyte exisit in the form of 2H+ and sulfate SO42− ions. As zinc is higher than both hydrogen and copper in the electrochemical series which react with the negatively charged sulfate ion.Hydrogen which is positively charged that is protons captures electrons from copper which forms bubbles of hydrogen gas which makes the zinc rod a negative electrode and copper the positive electrode.
There are two terminals across which the electric current will flow when connected.
The chemical reactions taking place are-
- Zn → Zn2+ + 2e−
- sulfuric acid
- 2H+ + 2e− → H2
copper does not react instead it acts as an electrode to carry current.
Even it was the first invention still this cell has various disadvantage like it is unsafe to handle this cell as it contain sulfuric acid which is hazardous even if diluted and the power of this cell also diminishes with time because of the hydrogen gas which is not released during the reaction but it accumulates on the surface of zinc and acts as a barrier between metal and the electrolyte solution.