Battery Studies with Particular Reference to Organic Depolarizers

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Since Volta's invention of the first primary cell, using silver and zinc, numerous other cell combinations have been studied, covering a wide variety of anode and cathode materials. The latter have included both inorganic and organic substances capable of electrochemical reduction, although, historically, organic cathode materials have received very much less attention than the inorganic. It was the purpose of this investigation to study the actual behavior of a selected number of quinones as depolarizers in primary cells. Performance of experimental cells was compared with cells of the usual dry cell composition but of the same size and construction as cells of experimental composition. The results show that certain substituted anthraquinones possess good depolarizing ability as measured by discharge voltage and coulombic capacity. Energy output in some cases was higher than that of the manganese dioxide control cells (zinc anodes in all cases) because of higher effective coulombic capacities. A qualitative study of the effect of substituents on the discharge voltages of various quinones showed that cell working voltages were much more sensitive to quinone substitution than were the calculated reversible potentials. Also, in the case of nitro-substituted anthraquinones more coulombic capacity was obtained than could be accounted for by the simple reduction to the corresponding hydroquinone. The possibility of a reduction of the nitro-group of this compound was considered. Substances investigated were benzoquinone, naphthoquinone, anthraquinone, and certain of their derivatives, using various electrolytes. The size of the experimental cells was such that about 0.2 gram of the various depolarizers could be studied conveniently.