Lewis Urry

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Lewis Frederick Urry (born January 29, 1927 in Pontypool (Ontario) , Ontario , † October 19, 2004 ) was a Canadian chemical engineer and inventor. He invented the alkaline battery while working for Eveready .

After serving in the Canadian Army, he studied chemistry at the University of Toronto through 1950 and then started at Eveready . In 1955, he was sent to the company's Parma, Ohio laboratory to find a way to extend the life of zinc-carbon batteries . The short lifespan hurt sales. Urry realized that it was cheaper to develop a new battery than to develop the old one. During the 1950s, many engineers had experimented with alkaline batteries, but no one had been able to come up with a longer-lasting battery that would be worth the higher cost of production.

After testing a number of materials, Urry discovered that manganese dioxide and solid zinc worked well in conjunction with an alkaline substance as an electrolyte. His main problem, that the battery was not performing enough, he solved in 1959 by pulverizing the zinc. To convince his managers, he put the battery in a toy car and drove against a similar car with an older battery in the canteen. Eveready began production and was renamed Energizer in 1980 . Thanks to improvements, modern alkaline batteries are said to last 40 times longer than the prototype, which he left with the Smithsonian Institute in 1999 along with the first commercially produced battery.