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An A – Z of Batteries – T, U and V

Written on September 14, 2016 at 10:49 am

Our A-Z of all things battery may be fast approaching its end, but we’ve still got plenty of interesting snippets of information to share in what we hope you will agree has been a fascinating exploration of facts, figures and fascinating insights into the automotive battery and its rich history.


T is for Tudor

Henri Tudor CollegeValery Shanin /

Henri Owen Tudor was a Luxembourgish engineer, inventor, and industrialist who is best known for developing the first practical lead-acid battery in 1886, following on from the groundbreaking theoretical work of French physicist Gaston Planté.  Henri Tudor established one of the first ever battery factories in Rosport for the purposes of manufacturing the predecessor to today’s automotive batteries. However, the cost of manufacturing the product in Luxembourg, which had no lead industry and little domestic demand of its own, forced Tudor to expand manufacturing overseas, particularly in Belgium, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Tudor died of lead poisoning in 1928, at the age of 68. At the time of his death, 25,000 people worked in the manufacture of Tudor batteries.

In 1987, CRP Henri Tudor (the Henri Tudor Public Research Centre) was founded in Luxembourg, and named in honor of Henri Owen Tudor and his devotion to research and innovation. In May 2009, the Tudor Museum with exhibits relating to his development of the lead-acid accumulator, opened in Rosport Castle where Tudor lived.


U is for U B Thomas

Bell Labs

U B Thomas was a scientist at the world-renowned Bell Laboratories, founded by Alexander Graham Bell in 1880. As the telecommunications network that Bell had facilitated through the invention of the telephone went into a phase of rapid expansion and development, the leading American provider AT&T quickly realised the importance of having a stable and reliable power system to support the network and its unique demands. U B Thomas realised that the lead acid technology used for today’s car batteries would be the ideal solution, but quickly realised that improvements could be made to improve the battery lifespan. His work in this field contributed significantly to the modern lead acid battery used in automotives and other applications today.


V is for VRLA

Lucas VRLA Battery

A VRLA battery (valve-regulated lead-acid battery), more commonly known as a sealed lead-acid (SLA), gel cell, or maintenance free battery, is a type of lead-acid rechargeable battery. Due to their construction, the Gel and AGM types of VRLA do not contain high levels of liquid compared with the standard counterparts, and consequently can be mounted in any orientation, and do not require constant maintenance. It should be noted, however, that the commonly used term “maintenance free” is a misnomer as VRLA batteries still require cleaning and regular functional testing. They are widely used in large portable electrical devices, off-grid power systems and similar roles, where large amounts of storage are needed at a lower cost than other low-maintenance technologies like lithium-ion.

There are three primary types of VRLA batteries, Sealed VR wet cell, AGM and Gel. Gel cells add silica dust to the electrolyte, forming a thick putty-like gel. These are sometimes referred to as “silicone batteries”. AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries feature fiberglass mesh between the battery plates which serves to contain the electrolyte. Both designs offer advantages and disadvantages compared to conventional batteries and sealed VR wet cells, as well as each other.


Manbat are one of the UK’s largest and most experienced distributors of automotive batteries. With over half a century in the market, we are proud to offer our customers and almost unparalleled level of knowledge – as well as an exceptional standard of customer service. For all your automotive battery enquiries, contact us online or call us now on 01743 218500.

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