Alkaline Dry Cells

How the Alkaline Cell works – as illustrated in the Globe and Mail

Toronto. I can remember when the Alkaline cells hit the market. They were touted as much more powerful and leak-proof to boot. The January 2nd, 2017 Globe and Mail had an article about Lewis Urry, born in Pontypool, Ontario and educated as a chemical engineer at the U of T.

Urry moved to the Cleveland, Ohio area lab of Union Carbide where he invented the Alkaline cell which was submitted for patent as an Eveready cell in 1957 and hit the market a few years later. The unique design of an Alkaline cell struck me  as a real stroke of genius. The traditional carbon-zinc cathode and anode were reversed so the battery could be housed in an inert steel container. The zinc, which disintegrated in leaky old carbon-zinc cells was in the centre of the cell and made into a paste with a far greater area, hence the greater power created in the same size container.

In mid October last year, I posted a note on batteries as used in digital cameras. The AA size Alkaline cells could be used in the Nikon Coolpix cameras as an alternative to rechargeable NiCads. Ditto in many small electronic flash guns. The benefit was ready access to substitute for rechargeable cells in a pinch.


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