Edison-powered car

Battery Thomas Edison invented finding new life in cars

It turns out the battery chemistry Edison invented in the early 20th century could be the next step in getting us from point A to point B in electric vehicles.

Just after the turn of the 20th century, Thomas Edison, arguably one of the world's greatest inventors, came up with a battery design he believed would power America's transportation future. Nearly forgotten, that battery is getting a recharge thanks to research at Stanford University.

Called the Edison Battery, it's a well-vetted chemistry of nickel-iron and was an early progenitor of today's popular rechargeable Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries. Although the Edison Battery lost favor in the 1970s as other chemistries for vehicles came to the fore, scientists at Stanford have turned back to it and believe it could hold a key to taking electric vehicles to the next level.

Edison strongly believed in electric vehicles as transportation's future. He attempted to convince Henry Ford of this idea, describing gasoline engines as having "..that almost terrifying uncertain throb and whirr.." Battery technology at the time, even with Edison's design, was woefully inadequate to compete with combustion engines and quickly lost favor as gasoline and diesel became the dominant fuels for vehicles.


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