Lew Urry Chemical Engineering

Invented the alkaline battery

"I can't talk about them just yet, but I think I still have some breakthroughs on the horizon. "

The Story

Eighty percent of the dry cell batteries in the world today are based on a Canadian invention. They are descendants of Urry's first alkaline battery patented in 1959 while working for Union Carbide in Cleveland. But the original research and first prototype were completed in Toronto before the company moved Urry to Cleveland in 1955. Urry claims he not only developed the battery technology, but designed the container and "Energizer" colour scheme as well. It was not until 1980 when Union Carbide created the "Energizer" brand and the pink Energizer bunny. Urry holds 51 patents including patents for maganesium batteries used by the military and, now in his 70s, continues working on new types of lithium batteries (see quote) at the Eveready battery plant in Cleveland. Urry held Canadian citizenship until 1960 when he married and took American citizenship. He has 51 U.S. patents, including several on batteries that power cell phones and cameras.

Sources: MacLean's magazine September 6, 1999, USA Today, Union Carbide, personal communication; Photo, AP

The Person

November 30, 1926
Pontypool, Ontario
Date of Death
October 19, 2004
Place of Death
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Family Members
  • Spouse: Beverly Ann Carlock
  • Three sons, two daughters, and 15 grandchildren
Union Carbide, Eveready Batteries
  • BSc U of Toronto, 1950
  • Smithsonian National Museum of American History hall of fame, 1999
Last Updated
October 29, 2004

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