The American Chemical Society designated the development of the Columbia dry cell battery as a National Historic Chemical Landmark on September 27, 2005. The commemorative plaques at Energizer in Cleveland and at Energizer headquarters in St. Louis read:
In 1896 the National Carbon Company (corporate predecessor of Energizer) developed the six-inch, 1.5 volt Columbia battery, the first sealed dry cell successfully manufactured for the mass market. The Columbia, a carbon-zinc battery with an acidic electrolyte, was a significant improvement over previous batteries, meeting consumer demand for a maintenance-free, durable, no-spill, inexpensive electrochemical power source. Finding immediate use in the rapidly expanding telephone and automobile industries, the Columbia launched the modern battery industry by serving as the basis for all dry cells for the next sixty years.
About the National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program
The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society with more than 158,000 members, has designated landmarks in the history of chemistry for more than a decade. The process begins at the local level. Members identify milestones in their cities or regions, document their importance, and nominate them for landmark designation. An international committee of chemists, chemical engineers, museum curators, and historians evaluates each nomination. For more information, please call the Office of Communications at 202-872-6274 or 800-227-5558, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our web site: www.chemistry.org/landmarks.
A nonprofit organization, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy, and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, DC, and Columbus, Ohio.
Written by Judah Ginsberg
Photo Credits: On the cover, Washington H. Lawrence from the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Columbia dry cell from the private collection of Robert E. Young; the NCC factory on page two is from the Western Reserve Historical Society.
The author is indebted to the assistance of Irene Shaland of Energizer, who prepared the nomination documents, provided research materials, and read this brochure in draft form. Thanks also to two other Energizer employees: Allan Fraser, who provided copies of patents on battery development, and Mark Schubert, who corrected my errors in the electrochemistry of how batteries work. In addition, thanks to Mary Ellen Bowden and Frankie Wood-Black of the National Historic Chemical Landmarks Committee, who read drafts of this brochure. Needless to say, any remaining errors are the author's alone.
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