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Frankland writes: 'Under this title I communicated to the Royal Society, in February, 1883, the results of some experiments on the reactions occurring during the charging and discharging of a storage cell [see PP/3/9]. I showed that no appreciable part of the storage effect was due to occluded gases, as had been previously suggested by some chemists and physicists; but that the act of charging consisted essentially in the decomposition of lead sulphate whilst the discharge was produced by the recomposition of this salt. The establishment of these, as practically the only reactions going on in a storagecell, enabled me to prescribe a very simple method by which the charge in any cell could be ascertained; for as sulphuric acid is liberated during the charging and absorbed by the active material of the plates during discharge, the amount of charge could at any time be measured by ascertaining the amount of free sulphuric acid in the cell; in other words, by simply determining the specific gravity of the electrolyte; and this method has since been very generally adopted by the users of storage batteries. In continuing these experiments, it soon became evident that the lead sulphate formed and decomposed in the cell could not be the ordinary white sulphate hitherto known to chemists, because, in the first place, the active material of the plates always remains coloured even after discharge, and secondly, because whenever white sulphate is produced through abnormal reactions in the cell, it is afterwards decomposed only with extreme difficulty by the electric current. In order to obtain some light upon the composition of the sulphate formed and decomposed in the cell, I have studied the action of dilute sulphuric acid upon litharge and minium, the two oxides of lead chiefly used in the construction of the plates of storage cells.'

Annotations in pencil and ink.

Subject: Chemistry / Electricity

Received 18 June 1889. Read 20 June 1889.

A version of this paper was published in volume 46 of the Proceedings of the Royal Society as 'Contributions to the chemistry of storage batteries. No. 2'.

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Edward Frankland

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Edward Frankland, Paper, 'Contributions to the chemistry of storage batteries. No 2' by E [Edward] Frankland, 1889, PP/14/25, The Royal Society Archives, London,, accessed on 23 July 2024

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  • Proceedings Papers

    Dates: 1882 - 1894

    The archival collection known as 'Proceedings Papers' is comprised of manuscripts and occasional proofs of scientific papers sent to the Royal Society which were read before meetings of Fellows and printed in full in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

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