Leclanché, Georges

SUBJECT AREA: Electricity
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b. 1839 Paris, France
d. 14 September 1882 Paris, France
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French chemist and inventor of the primary cell named after him, from which the electrochemical principles of the modern dry cell have been developed.
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Leclanché was sent to England for his early education. Returning to France, he entered the Central School of Arts and Manufacture, from which he graduated as a chemical engineer in 1860. He spent some years with a railway company in setting up an electrical timing system, and this work led him to electrochemical research. Driven by political pressure into exile, he set up a small laboratory in Brussels to continue the studies of the behaviour of voltaic cells he had started in France. Many workers directed their efforts to constructing a cell with a single electrolyte and a solid insoluble depo-larizer, but it was Leclanché who produced, in 1866, the prototype of a battery that was rugged, cheap and contained no highly corro-sive liquid. With electrodes of carbon and zinc and a solution of ammonium chloride, polarization was prevented by surrounding the positive electrode with manganese dioxide. The Leclanché cell was adopted by the Belgian Government Telegraph Service in 1868 and rapidly came into general use wherever an intermittent current was needed; for example, in telegraph and later in telephone circuits. Carl Gassner in 1888 pioneered successful dry cells based on the Leclanché system, with the zinc anode serving as the container, and c. 1890 commercial production of such cells began.
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Bibliography
10 October 1866, British patent no. 2,623 (Leclanché cell).
1868, "Pile au peroxyde de manganèse à seul liquide", Les Mondes 16:532–3 (describes the Leclanché cell).
Further Reading
M.Barak, 1966, "Georges Leclanché (1939–1882)", IEE Electronics and Power 12:184– 91 (a detailed account).
N.C.Cahoon and G.W.Heise (eds), 1976, The Primary Battery, Vol. II, New York, pp. 1–147 (describes subsequent developments), GW

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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