There are three kinds of primary batteries in general use in the British Postal Telegraph Department, viz., the Daniell, the bichromate, and the Leclanche.
In the second group, we may notice the application of litmus, methyl orange or phenolphthalein in alkalimetry, when the acid or alkaline character of the solution commands the colour which it exhibits; starch paste, which forms a blue compound with free iodine in iodometry; potassium chromate, which forms red silver chromate after all the hydrochloric acid is precipitated in solutions of chlorides; and in the estimation of ferric compounds by potassium bichromate, the indicator, potassium ferricyanide, is placed in drops on a porcelain plate, and the end of the reaction is shown by the absence of a blue coloration when a drop of the test solution is brought into contact with it.
In 1855 C. Brunner described a method for oxidizing the carbon to carbon dioxide, which could be estimated by the usual methods, by heating the substance with potassium bichromate and sulphuric acid.
Sulphur and phosphorus can sometimes be estimated by Messinger's method, in which the oxidation is effected by potassium permanganate and caustic alkali, or by potassium bichromate and hydrochloric acid.
Potassium bichromate and sulphuric acid oxidize it to carbon dioxide and water; and potassium chlorate and hydrochloric acid to chloranil.