Accidental Invention: Super Glue

Chances are, if you look in that drawer in your kitchen (you know, the “junk” one), there’s a good chance you’ll find a tube of super glue. While it has become an extremely valuable tool for a variety of uses, this seemingly magical adhesive was actually discovered by accident during WWII.

Super glue, that miraculous adhesive that seems to bond just about anything together, has an intriguing origin story. Its invention resulted from accidental discovery during a quest for a new type of clear plastic, and although it wasn’t exactly what scientists set out to create, ideas for the substance still stuck around.

Sticking to It

In 1942, chemist Dr. Harry Coover attempted to develop a clear plastic for precision gun sights during World War II. While experimenting, Coover and his team stumbled upon a sticky substance called cyanoacrylates, which could bond surfaces rapidly and firmly. In fact, they were so effective it became a challenge to separate objects once they were stuck together.

While the team initially did not see a feasible use for cyanoacrylate, in 1951, when Coover was transferred to Eastman Kodak’s chemical plant to develop jet canopies, he revisited the powerful adhesives and transformed it into the commercial product we now know as super glue. The name itself emerged from the product’s exceptional adhesive capabilities. It was initially marketed as “Eastman 910” but eventually gained the name “super glue” due to its extraordinary strength and reliability.

A Super Useful Tool

Super glue’s chemical composition is such that it polymerizes quickly upon contact with moisture. This means that when applied to a surface, it rapidly forms strong bonds by reacting with the moisture present in the air or on the materials being glued together without the need for added heat or pressure. The substance is so strong, in fact, that in 2011, Loctite used just nine drops of their product to lift a car weighing over five tons!

The original formulation was a clear, liquid adhesive, but advancements led to additional variations, such as gel formulations, which provide better control and reduce run-off. Over the years, additional variations of super glue have been developed to cater to specific needs, including flexible versions for materials that require some degree of movement, high-temperature resistant types, and even water-resistant versions for applications in wet environments. It has found a place in various industries, including manufacturing, construction, and aerospace.

Glue it Yourself (GIY)

While quick around-the-house repairs are some of the most common uses for super glue, the adhesive can be effectively used in a wide variety of applications:

  • Arts and CraftsSuper glue has become a go-to adhesive for hobbyists, DIY enthusiasts, and artisans due to its ability to securely bond materials such as wood, plastic, metal, and fabric.
  • Automotive – When building and repairing cars, super glue is often more effective, lightweight, and aesthetically appealing than traditional fasteners, making it ideal for transmission hose assembly, door weather stripping, and sunroof seals.
  • Forensics – At crime scenes, investigators can utilize super glue to document latent fingerprints by allowing the adhesive to draw out trace amounts of moisture left behind, which “blooms” to create a visible print.
  • Medical Care – In emergency situations, super glue can be used to close small wounds or lacerations when traditional stitching is not immediately available, providing a temporary solution until proper medical care can be administered.
  • Survival – Not only can super glue be a valuable tool for medical emergencies, but it can also be used to start fires, create water seals, as well as patch tents, fabrics, and cords, making it an essential on the pack list for wilderness adventures.

From an accidental discovery to an adhesive marvel, super glue’s strength, versatility, and ease of use have made it a staple for strong fixes of all kinds… Just be careful not to get your hands stuck together!

If you enjoyed this accidental invention story, you might also like the ones about Post-it® Notes, Silly Putty, and Penicillin.

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Inventions Ahead of Their Time: Flushing Toilets

Have you ever used the expression “going to the John” and wondered who John is and why his name is synonymous with toilets?? Well, the man in question is, in fact, Sir John Harington – the inventor who created flush toilets nearly 500 years ago!

The invention of toilets that flush, often referred to as flush toilets or water closets, marked a significant milestone in human sanitation practices. These ingenious devices have revolutionized how we handle waste and maintain cleanliness in our living spaces.

John Invents the “John”

The concept of water-based waste disposal dates back to ancient civilizations. Early iterations of flush toilets can be traced back to 2,500 BCE in the Indus Valley Civilization, where intricate drainage systems were developed to remove waste from homes and cities. Similarly, the ancient Romans employed advanced sewage systems, showcasing their engineering prowess.

However, the modern flush toilet as we know it today was refined and popularized during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of the key figures in this development was Sir John Harington, an English courtier, and godson of Queen Elizabeth I. Motivated by his concern for hygiene and the desire to improve the sanitary conditions and inspired by the advanced sewage systems he encountered during his travels in Europe, Harington sought to create a similar solution that could be implemented in households. So, in 1596, he invented the “Ajax.”

The “Ajax” was an innovative design consisting of a water closet, a porcelain basin with a seat, and a water tank mounted above. To flush, a valve at the bottom of the tank was opened, allowing water to rush into the bowl, carrying away the waste through a pipe connected to the sewage system. Harington’s invention was also equipped with a trap mechanism that prevented foul odors from escaping into the room.

Cleaning Things Up

While Harington’s “Ajax” was a notable invention, it was primarily embraced solely by the wealthy and elite, who could afford such luxuries. Despite its potential benefits, the widespread adoption of flush toilets did not occur during Harington’s time. It would take several more centuries and the contributions of other inventors for flush toilets to become a standard fixture in households worldwide.

In the following years, notable advancements were made in toilet design and plumbing systems leading to the eventual popularization of flush toilets. The innovation of the siphon flush mechanism, credited to Joseph Bramah in the early 1770s, greatly improved the efficiency of waste removal. Soon thereafter, Alexander Cummings, a watchmaker from Scotland, received a patent for the “S” trap, a bend in the pipe beneath the toilet that created a water seal to prevent odors from escaping. In the 19th century, Thomas Crapper (sound familiar?), an English plumber and entrepreneur, introduced more design improvements, such as the ballcock mechanism, which allowed for more efficient water tank refilling.

Flush toilets were a notable invention primarily because they provided a more hygienic and convenient alternative to traditional waste disposal methods. Before their introduction, chamber pots, open pits, and rudimentary outhouses were the prevailing means of waste management, often resulting in unsanitary conditions and foul odors. This innovation offered a more sanitary and efficient solution by using water to remove waste, thus significantly reducing the spread of diseases and improving overall hygiene. Additionally, the convenience and comfort of having an indoor toilet with a flushing mechanism added convenience and privacy to personal sanitation practices.

Waste Not, Want Not

Since their inception, flush toilets have undergone significant developments to enhance their functionality and efficiency. Innovations such as the siphon flush mechanism and dual-flush systems have emerged to address concerns about water conservation and environmental impact. There has been a growing focus on developing sustainable toilet technologies. New water-efficient designs, waterless systems, and waste treatment options are explored to minimize water usage and improve sanitation in regions with limited access to clean water and sanitation infrastructure.

The widespread adoption of flush toilets has profoundly impacted public health and sanitation. By efficiently removing waste and preventing its accumulation, flush toilets have played a crucial role in curbing the spread of waterborne diseases and improving overall hygiene standards. This invention has also had a transformative effect on urban areas, allowing for denser populations and contributing to the growth and development of cities, supported by advancements in plumbing infrastructure, expansion of water supply networks, and establishment of sewage systems.

The invention of flush toilets marked a significant leap forward in human sanitation practices, and they have become an essential element of modern living, impacting our daily routines and providing us with a higher standard of comfort and convenience. Their presence in homes, offices, public facilities, and other spaces may sometimes be taken for granted today. Still, it is worth recognizing this invention’s significance in revolutionizing our approach to waste management.

To learn about more inventions ahead of their time, check out these stories about vending machines, electric cars, and NASA tools.

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Accidental Invention: X-Ray Machine

Since their discovery in 1895, X-rays have revolutionized medicine and significantly contributed to various industries. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, a German physicist, accidentally stumbled upon X-rays one day while conducting experiments with cathode rays, which opened up a new world of possibilities for imaging and diagnosing medical conditions.

X-rays, also known as Roentgen rays, are a form of electromagnetic radiation that can penetrate through materials and produce images of the internal structures of the human body. A discovery and subsequent invention from one scientist sparked a wave of excitement and curiosity among scientists, leading to further exploration and development of X-ray technology.

A Glowing Discovery

Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, a German physicist, made one of the most significant accidental discoveries in the history of science while conducting experiments with cathode rays in 1895. He noticed a mysterious fluorescent glow in a nearby barium platinocyanide screen, even though the cathode rays were supposed to be confined within a glass tube. Intrigued by this unexpected phenomenon, Roentgen began investigating its properties and potential applications.

Roentgen conducted numerous experiments in a darkened laboratory to further explore this mysterious glow. He discovered that these new rays, which he named X-rays (X signifying their unknown nature), could penetrate through various materials, including human tissue while remaining invisible to the naked eye. This revelation opened up a world of possibilities for medical imaging.

Driven by his desire to understand this newfound radiation and harness its potential, Roentgen developed a rudimentary X-ray apparatus consisting of a cathode ray tube and a fluorescent screen that allowed him to produce and visualize X-rays. Roentgen soon realized the potential medical applications of his invention and began capturing X-ray images of various objects, including his wife’s hand, which became the world’s first X-ray photograph.

Taking a Deeper Look

The groundbreaking nature of Roentgen’s discovery quickly became evident. Word spread rapidly throughout the scientific community, and Roentgen’s findings were published in a paper titled “On a New Kind of Rays” in 1896. His work received widespread recognition, earning him the inaugural Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.

The invention of the X-ray machine began paving the way for numerous medical advancements, becoming an essential tool for diagnosing and treating medical conditions. Physicians could now visualize the internal structures of the human body without resorting to invasive procedures. X-rays proved valuable in detecting fractures, identifying tumors, and guiding surgical interventions. The ability to observe the body’s internal workings in such detail revolutionized medical diagnostics and significantly improved patient care, forever transforming the field of medicine.

The continued development of this technology soon sparked a new era of scientific exploration. Scientists and researchers began delving deeper into the nature of radiation, leading to further discoveries in atomic and nuclear physics. Roentgen’s invention laid the foundation for developing other imaging techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Seeing the Possibilities

Over time, X-rays have become a valuable tool in a growing variety of industries. Today, machines are commonly used in fields like manufacturing to inspect products for defects, such as cracks or hidden flaws in metal parts. X-ray machines are also used to scan bags, luggage, and cargo for potential threats before transportation. The ability to quickly and non-destructively examine objects has greatly improved quality control and security measures across various sectors.

The impact of X-ray technology in medical and scientific fields cannot be overstated. It has enabled early detection of diseases like cancer, allowing timely treatment and potentially saving lives. It has also played a significant role in surgical planning, guiding procedures, and minimizing risks. Furthermore, it has contributed to scientific research, helping unravel the mysteries of the natural world by studying substances’ atomic and molecular structures.

Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen’s X-ray machine development has profoundly impacted modern health and safety practices, from revolutionizing medical diagnostics to enhancing industrial processes and security measures. The accidental discovery of X-rays serves as a reminder that groundbreaking inventions can arise unexpectedly, forever changing the course of scientific and technological progress.

For more stories about healthcare-related innovations, check out Inventions Ahead of Their Time: Corrective Lens/Contact Lens and Accidental Invention: Penicillin.

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Accidental Invention: Potato Chips

WARNING: Reading this article may incite a ravenous craving for potato chips. Viewer discretion is advised.

The crunchy, salty, irresistible snack that you know and love was first created nearly two centuries ago. Potato chips are said to have originated from an interaction between a picky restaurant patron and an irritated cook… But is that really where they came from?

The Legend of the Salty Chef

As the story goes, Native and African American chef George (Speck) Crum worked at Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga Springs, New York. One day in 1853, he encountered a particularly fussy eater. Cornelius Vanderbilt had ordered fried potatoes, which he then sent back because they were cut too thick. George, in the act of spiteful pettiness, proceeded to slice a potato as thinly as possible and fry it to a crisp… And Cornelius loved it.

As fun as this story is, historians have mostly debunked it. George Crum still, however, often receives credit for popularizing the snack, as he continued to serve them to enthusiastic patrons.

George’s “Saratoga Chips” quickly became a hit around town and then beyond Upstate New York. In 1860, the chef opened his restaurant, Crum’s House, where each table was served a delicious basket of his famous potato chips. The delicious crisps eventually became quite sought-after throughout the U.S., with the first “Saratoga Chips” being sold in grocery stores in 1895 by William Tappendonby in Cleveland, OH.

Other Cooks in the Kitchen

Over the years, other possible origin stories of the invention of the potato chip have surfaced.

George Crum’s coworker and sister, Catherine Adkins Wicks, also claimed that she was the true inventor of the potato chip. In some versions of the original story, she is said to have been the one who served the thin crips to Cornelius Vanderbilt. In another, Catherine was allegedly peeling potatoes when she accidentally dropped a slice in a pot of boiling fat.

Another Moon’s Lake House employee, “Eliza, the cook,” was claimed to have been making chips as early as 1849. A New York Herald article from the time said her “​​potato frying reputation is one of the prominent matters of remark at Saratoga.” Other restaurant individuals credited with the invention include the owners, restaurant manager Hiram Thomas, and several other cooks.

A different story from Smithsonian Magazine reports that “the earliest known recipe for chips dated to 1817 when an English doctor named William Kitchiner published The Cook’s Oracle, a cookbook that included a recipe for “potatoes fried in slices or shavings.” So, historians have largely agreed that we may, unfortunately, never know the true origin of the chip.

You Can’t Eat Just One

As you can probably guess, the popularity of potato chips grew exponentially, and recipes and production continued to evolve.

In the early 1920s, Herman Lay (name sound familiar?) began making his potato chips and selling them out of the trunk of his car. As he began commercializing the product, rumors spread that the chips had an aphrodisiac quality, which simply bolstered his sales even more.

Smithsonian Magazine also reports that “In 1926, Laura Scudder, a California businesswoman, began packaging chips in wax-paper bags that included not only a ‘freshness’ date but also a tempting boast – ’the Noisiest Chips in the World.’” The new packaging design helped the snack stay fresher and crispier for longer, making them even more popular and allowing them to be mass-marketed.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that potato chips started seeing flavoring, thanks to Irishman Joe “Spud” Murphy. With his founding of Tayto, he developed a manufacturing process that created some of the most popular flavors we still know and love: Sour Cream and Onion, Barbecue, and Salt and Vinegar.

Today, Americans consume about 1.85 billion pounds of potato chips each year, supporting an estimated $10.5 billion industry. Because, in the words of Lay’s 1961 spokesperson Bert Lahr, “You can’t eat just one!”

If you enjoyed this accidental invention story, you might also like the ones about silly putty and Corn Flakes.

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The Power of Solid-State Batteries

Today, lithium-ion batteries are one of the most common sources of power for everyday devices from cell phones to cars. As these products continue to improve, so does the need for a more efficient energy source. The up-and-coming technology of Solid-State Batteries may just be the solution.

As technology develops by the day, more efficient energy sources are necessary for proper and effective functioning. Product improvements are accompanied by a demand for power that keeps up with them. Solid-State Batteries may be the solution that provides greater stability, safety, and energy density.

What are Solid-State Batteries?

In many of the devices we use today, lithium-ion batteries are a standard source of power. They utilize a flammable liquid electrolyte that balances the energy distribution between the cathode and anode, which is seen as more efficient than the lead-acid and nickel-metal hydride batteries used in the past. While we currently rely on lithium-ion batteries to power devices anywhere from our phones to our cars, they tend to be heavy and unstable in extreme temperatures.

Enter: Solid-State Batteries (SSB). As the name suggests, these batteries are composed of a solid electrolyte (typically ceramic, polymer, or glass) making them generally more stable and compact. With the material change, SSB are much lighter and have an energy capacity more than two times greater than lithium-ion batteries. They are also able to recharge significantly faster.

Additionally, with the removal of the flammable liquid electrolyte, SSB are safer in a wider range of temperatures and are less likely to overheat, meaning they are much less likely to catch on fire. The solid electrolyte also makes the batteries denser, allowing them to have a greater range of operation and be overall more efficient.

Currently, SSB are most commonly used in devices such as pacemakers, RFID, and wearable devices. And one of the biggest potential applications for SSB is in electric vehicles. According to Forbes, “Solid-state batteries promise fast, ubiquitous charging, and enough power to outrun ICE cars not just in the city, but on the fast lane of highways too on the long-distance race to the summer sun.”

What are Some of the Barriers to Success in this Industry?

Unfortunately, as promising as SSB are, they still have years of work to go before they are ready to be widely adopted. As research and experimentation goes, scientists have encountered issues with a variety of features, such as longevity. A significant flaw with SSB is the rapid degradation over charging cycles, causing an accumulation of lithium dendrites which can pierce the battery and lead to short-circuiting.

Other issues include conductivity and instability where the materials join. With a solid electrolyte, there is less particle mobility, preventing electrons from moving as freely as they otherwise would. This can also have a negative impact on the construction of the batteries, as it is more difficult to connect solid materials together as opposed to working with a liquid that has no fixed shape.

Also, in theory, SSB are believed to be able to be significantly less expensive than the current lithium-ion options. However, it has become a challenge to scale SSB, which are currently used in small devices, to larger applications. As of yet, no company has successfully been able to mass-manufacture SSB so that they are cost-effective enough to benefit the general public.

While there are some current barriers to widely-adopting Solid-State Battery technology, all good engineering takes time and experimentation. Looking toward the future, there is still extreme potential in this revolutionary power source and its potential applications.

What Can CPS Do?

The world of batteries is rapidly evolving, with new changes and developments each day. At CPS, we pride ourselves on our ability to take on challenges and learn new things every day. While we don’t make SSBs ourselves, we are great at supporting the people that do.

Many companies currently working with SSB technology are in the research and development phase, experimenting with small batches and basic processes. This means that they typically don’t have the proper equipment to be able to scale their projects as demand increases. Our job is to provide these companies with new solutions for containment, blending, transport, and handling to progress from grams at a time to hundreds of kilograms at a time. And, we are able to completely custom build the base equipment so they seamlessly integrate with the systems these companies already have in place.

The other main concern we address is safety, as oxidized lithium can release extremely combustible gasses. By upgrading a company’s current storage method to efficient Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC), we can significantly decrease the risk of both explosions and human inhalation of toxic gasses. Depending on the customer’s needs, we can also utilize various tools such as contained transfer devices, accurate dosing scales, clean docking Jet-Wash transfers, and blending systems.

At Custom Powder Systems, we love staying up-to-date with the most current engineering trends. If there are new technologies you’d like to explore, let us know how we can help!

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Accidental Invention: Silly Putty

Simple. Squishable. Moldable. Silly Putty has been a popular children’s toy for over 80 years. But did you know it wasn’t created for kids? Silly Putty’s origin story begins with an accidental discovery during the rubber shortage during World War II.

During WWII, many of the countries that produced rubber were being invaded at the time. Because of this, Allies faced an extreme rubber shortage. In an effort to combat the lack of this essential manufacturing item, the U.S. government contracted companies to create a synthetic rubber substitute that could be made from readily-available materials.

It was during this experimental process that one of the world’s most popular toys was inadvertently created.

A Goo With Interesting Properties

It all started in General Electric’s New Haven, Connecticut Lab in 1943, where inventor James Wright was testing potential methods to create synthetic rubber. During one attempt, he mixed boric acid and silicone oil, creating a gooey, stretchy substance. While it proved to be a poor substitute for rubber, its unique properties turned some heads.

This “nutty putty” was stretchier and bouncier than rubber, and it adhered to ink to make a perfect copy of whatever newspaper or comic book it touched. James soon began sending samples to labs around the world to find a potential use for his discovery. Unfortunately, there was not much interest from other scientists or the U.S. government, so the mysterious goo fell to the wayside.

Passing Around the Party Putty

In spite of there being no obvious practical use for the putty, James continued making it. The goopy goo eventually started making appearances as a novelty passed around at parties. At one such party, the rubbery substance was discovered by Ruth Fallgatter, owner of the “Block Shop” toy store. She began selling it in her catalog at “bouncy putty.” It quickly became a bestseller.

Ruth’s marketing consultant, Peter Hodgson, was so interested in the goo that he purchased its production rights and changed the name to “Silly Putty.” The product’s next release coincided with the Easter holiday, inspiring its famous plastic egg-shaped package. Priced at $1 each, the company sold 250,000 units of Silly Putty in the first three days… and nearly six million units in the first year.

Second Only to Crayola Crayons

The new toy was an instant success, second only to Crayons. Crayola eventually purchased the exclusive manufacturing rights to Silly Putty in 1977. Today, the company reveals that “although the exact formulas Crayola uses to make Silly Putty are proprietary, we can share that it is made primarily from silicone and color pigments.”

While still commonly known as a toy, Silly Putty has also a few practical uses, such as picking up dirt and lint and stabilizing wobbly table legs. It was also used on the 1968 Apollo 8 mission where astronauts used Silly Putty to secure their tools to surfaces while orbiting the moon.

We love practical inventions, but we also love the impractical fun ones, too! If you need help figuring out an idea, we’re here for you… no matter how “silly” it seems.

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Mothers of Invention: Martha Coston

Inventor and businesswoman Martha Coston knew how to draw attention to herself… By using a Coston flare. This essential tool for signaling at sea can be credited to the hard work of one incredibly dedicated mother.

Martha Coston did not let being a young, widowed, single mother in the mid-nineteenth century stop her from being a successful inventor and businesswoman, providing for her family, and making a name for herself.

Drawing inspiration from her late husband’s designs, Martha created the Coston flare, a maritime signaling device that has been an incredibly useful life-saving tool for nearly two centuries.

Sparking an Idea

Born on December 12, 1826 in Baltimore, Maryland, Martha grew up with no formal education. She later moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she met promising naval inventor Benjamin Franklin Coston, who she married and shared four children with. Due to his work experimenting with chemicals, Benjamin passed away when Martha was just 21 years old, leaving her a penniless single mother.

After several years of struggling to get by, Martha came across a design amongst her husband’s belongings that would spark many more years of inventing and success. Within one of the notebooks, she found rough sketches and notes about a potential signaling system that could be used by the U.S. Navy.

Fanning the Flames

While Benjamin’s ideas themselves were strong, Martha knew that they would need a lot of work before they could be turned into a usable product. The goal was to create a durable, long-lasting pyrotechnic flare and effective signaling system that could be used for ship-to-ship and ship-to-land communication.

Though her project took an immense amount of time and effort, Martha remained diligent over the years, saying: “The men I employed and dismissed, the experiments I made myself, the frauds that were practiced upon me, almost disheartened me; but … I treasured up each little step that was made in the right direction, the hints of naval officers, and the opinions of the different boards that gave the signals a trial.

A Signal of Success

After a decade of experimentation, Martha finally received a patent (#23,536) for her “Pyrotechnic Night Signals” in 1859 and started the Coston Manufacturing Company. Using firework technology and a team of chemists, she was able to create bright red, white, and green flares that could be seen over long distances. The rights to the invention were quickly purchased by the U.S. Navy, and she was awarded a contract for her company to manufacture them.

The flares and communication system soon proved to be a valuable tool, helping the Union to win battles and save lives during the Civil War. As the years went on, Martha continued to improve upon her invention, developing a twist-ignition version patented in 1871. The flares were sold to navies around the world, commercial merchant vessels, and private yachting clubs, and have saved a countless number of lives.

To hear more stories about professional women whose perseverance has made them inspirational figures in their fields, check out our podcast, The Art of Engineering.

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Inventions Ahead of Their Time: The Electric Car

With gas prices soaring, many drivers are considering the transition to electric vehicles. While many consider electric cars to be technology from the future, we actually have over two centuries of research and development to thank for this incredible invention.

When people today think of electric cars, most envision sleek, futuristic, technologically-advanced machines. But, did you know the first electric cars were created nearly two hundred years ago? Studying at the origins of this incredible invention can help us understand how far we’ve come and guide us in making continuous improvements.

Batteries Start the Engines

Due to numerous technological advancements that lead to the advent of electric cars, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact time or location where it all began. Inventors in Hungary, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and the United States were experimenting with battery-powered vehicles in the early 1800’s, which led to the creation of the first small-scale electric cars and carriages.

Then, in 1890, chemist William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa built the first successful electric car. Carrying six passengers, the vehicle’s top speed clocked in at a whopping 14 miles per hour. In the decade that followed, growing interest sparked rapid innovations. At one point, electric cars accounted for over one-third of all vehicles on the road. Charging stations could even be found around city shopping districts.

Combustion On the Move

In the early twentieth century, significant advancements were made to internal-combustion engines, posing a threat to battery-powered vehicles. At the time, however, internal-combustion engines required hand-cranking to start and a fair amount of manual power to drive. Drivers found the electric vehicle’s ease of use far more appealing. 

But as the innovations evolved, the price of the gas-powered Ford Model T became less and less expensive. By 1923, vehicles with combustion engines were 10 times cheaper than the battery-powered alternative. Furthermore, the eventual creation of the electric starter eliminated the need for hand-cranking, making operation significantly easier. The combination of these two factors quickly steered shoppers towards more affordable options.

The Road Ahead

By WWII, gasoline-powered vehicles effectively won the technology war and phased out most electric car manufacturers. The discovery of crude oil in Texas and Henry Ford’s mass-production of internal-combustion engines led to lower costs too difficult to rival. But it wasn’t long before the U.S. began relying on foreign sources for imported crude oil. This, along with the call for reduced emissions, once again ignited an interest in electric vehicles in the late twentieth century.

Over the last fifty years, environmental concerns have led to major technological advancements in the electric car industry. Today, there are four main types of electric vehicles: Hybrid, Battery, Plug-In Hybrid, and Extended-Range. As these vehicles become more efficient and less expensive, it becomes increasingly more common to see them on the road.

At CPS, we’re excited to see not only the advancements in transportation technology but the challenges as well. Solving problems is what we do best, and many of life’s most valuable lessons are learned from past mistakes. If you’d like to see your idea come to life, let us know how we can help! Just imagine what your invention will look like two hundred years from now!

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