This accumulator is of the Plante type, and is modified so as to obtain a more rapid formation, a larger surface, and a symmetrical distance of the plates from each other. If into an alkaline bath saturated with litharge (added in excess) we plunge two lead electrodes and pass in a current of suitable tension and intensity, there is deposited upon the anode a layer of peroxide of lead varying in thickness with the intensity of the current, and more or less rich in oxygen according to the intensity of the bath, while the cathode is covered with a stratum of reduced lead. The liquid of the bath supplies material for both deposits, while in galvanoplastic operations the anode supplies it to the cathode. The principle of the formation consists in introducing in an efficacious manner currents of a great intensity, and thus abridging its duration.
Of two plates thus treated, the one becomes positive, and is covered with a thick layer of peroxide of lead. On leaving the bath it undergoes various preparations and several washings, and is then fit to be mounted along with others to form an accumulator ready to be charged and to work. The second, or negative, plate is covered with a thick sponge of lead. It is carefully washed, preserved in water with exclusion of air, and submitted to a very considerable pressure. After this operation it presents the appearance of ordinary sheet lead, but though the physical porosity has disappeared, the chemical porosity is intact, and this alone comes into play in accumulators. When a negative plate is constructed in this manner, it is ready to be combined with the positives to form an accumulator.
The inventor has sometimes put into the bath at the positive pole negative plates prepared as just described. They become very easily peroxidized, but they have the grave defect of requiring two preparations in place of one. To secure an accumulator against any leakage from plate, the solderings and the entire plates must be submerged in the liquid, so that nothing projects up out of the acidulated water except two strong rods for making contact. These rods are covered with an insulating varnish from their origin to above the point where they issue from the liquid. The plates are of a rectangular form (Fig. 1). They are sloped out at one corner, and as two plates in juxtaposition are cut together, when they are separated the sloping out of the one serves for the handle of the other. This handle is doubled back on the plate which is suspended in the bath, so that the part which has to be soldered does not undergo any preparation. A hole pierced in this corner of the plate serves to receive a square rod of lead, which connects the plates together and supports one of the poles or contacts of the accumulator.
At the point of soldering the doubled-down handle gives a double thickness, and the margins of the plate are folded in such a manner as to insure their solidity.
The sloped out corner affords the free space necessary for the rod of the opposite pole, and one and the same plate may be indifferently connected either to the + or the - at the right or the left. The plates are made of four different sizes: No. 1, 19 of which serve for an accumulator of 1 square meter; No. 2, 21, 25, or 29 of which serve for accumulators of 2, 3, and 4 square meters; No. 3, which with 21, 25, or 29 plates composes accumulators of 5, 6, and 7 square meters; and No. 4, which with 21, 23, 25, 27 or 29 plates forms accumulators of 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 square meters.
As the plates are entirely submerged in the liquid their entire surface is active, and the entire surface being absolutely flat, it is sufficient to preserve their respective distance at any one point in order to have it everywhere alike. The weight of the plate depends on the intended duration of the plate and its capacity. As for the negative plate, its thickness is the most important factor of its capacity. The proportion has yet to be established for daily practice. The inventor uses in practice positive plates of 0.002 meter in thickness. On the other hand, the negative plates have a body of only 0.001 meter in thickness, their greater thickness being due only to the deposit of compressed lead. The rod which fixes the plate to each pole (Fig. 2) is formed of a special alloy of lead and antimony, not attacked by acid. This gives rigidity to the rod, and hinders it from binding when the accumulator is taken out of its case. The copper piece which surmounts it is fitted at its base with an iron cramp, which is fixed in the lead, and above which is a wide furrow with two grooved parts, which being immersed in the lead hinders the copper from slipping round under the action of the screw. The rod is square, and is cast in a single piece.
Against one of its surfaces the ends of the connected plates press flatly up. A square form has been selected to give more surface for soldering. The soldering is autogenous (as in the lead chambers at vitriol works). The soldering, as well as the entire plates, is entirely immersed in the liquid, and to prevent any leakage an insulating varnish, perfectly proof against the acid and the current, is laid over the rod from the part soldered upward.
If it is wished to lift the accumulator from its chest for any verification, hooks passing between the plates seize hold of the rods, and thanks to the rigidity of the antimony lead, they effect the removal of the apparatus without bending the rods in the least. All the parts of the plates must be kept at exactly the same reciprocal distances, and a difference of only 0.001 meter between two points is sufficient to affect the yield considerably. For an insulating material, wood, when plunged in dilute acid, is preferred by the inventor. He makes a comb of wood, the teeth of which vary according to the thickness of the plates to be lodged between them. Fig. 3 represents a comb having 15/10 of a millimeter for the negative plates and 25/10 for the positive plates.