Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Syntho-sis

Voltaic Pile?

Recommended Posts

Okay so last night I was working on a simple voltaic pile or battery.

 

I thought it would be neat to build it and see how much I could increase the voltage. It did not work to well..

 

First off my voltmeter is not with me currently but after this weekend I will have one, so if it was producing DC voltage, I was not aware of it.

 

My measurement apparatus was a simple 2v lightbulb with two leads, I tested it and it works with a regular batter. The glow with the energizer battery was very dim, but that makes sense because the battery was only 1.5v.

 

Anyways, I had all the required supplies for building a voltaic battery, I'm trying to figure out what I did wrong. Here's a list of supplies...

 

*Half a cup of very salty water (the electrolyte solution- later I added a bit of vinegar with no luck)

 

*Pieces of regular paper cut into circles the size of pennies to absorb the solution

 

*Two pieces of insulated copper wire, each about six inches long (Maybe the wire was bad?)

 

*Wire stripper, knife, and scissors

 

*Duct tape

 

*Six Pennies and Six Nickles (First I tried dimes but the tutorial I was using said to use nickels- Although varying metals work apparently)

 

* 'Light volt-meter' thing which is not actually a 'meter' just a light with two leads

 

I think that's about it..

 

Here's the tutorial I used which is from http://www.eHow.com

 

1. Dissolve as much salt as you can into the hot water. Soak the pieces of paper towel in the salt water solution.

 

2. Strip the ends of the insulated copper wires. Tape the end of one wire to the side of a penny. Tape one end of the other wire to a zinc washer (or a nickel). These will be put on the top and bottom of your stack. It does not matter which goes on which end as long as the wires are on the outside of the stack.

 

3. Stack the coins and paper towels in alternating layers like this: copper, zinc washer, paper towel, copper, zinc washer, paper towel, etc. Start with one of your taped coins or a zinc washer and end with the other. You may blot the paper towel pieces a bit before stacking them, but make sure that they do not dry out.

 

4. Put the free ends of the wires on the leads of the LED light. If it does not light, you may want to check your apparatus to make sure everything is in place correctly. You may also want to add a few more coins to the stack to make it longer.

 

 

5. Try using a volt meter set on DC voltage to measure how much electricity is being produced by your voltaic pile.

 

http://www.ehow.com/how_2304036_make-voltaic-pile.html

 

I followed these instructions to the letter, Now I'm pretty sure I was creating voltage but I'm not sure how much.

 

I think what it may have been what that I didn't make a large enough pile.

 

Anyone else have experience with this sort of thing?

 

Any suggestions? Variations?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

probably your use of regular paper.

 

try it again with toilet paper or similar.

 

EDIT: what do you mean by washer? this would also likely disrupt it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forget the coins and find larger pieces of dissimilar metals. Preferably rods or pipes of such metals - or for the copper you might be able to use the wire itself (if it isn't tinned copper).

 

One possible problem is that because of the small size of the coins, the contact point between the wire and the coin occurs (taped) under the water, which leads to all sorts of possibilities. Even if you are keeping it above the salt water, taping is not a good way to make an electrical connection. By using larger pieces, you should be able to make far better electrical connections. And you should use something better than tape, perhaps soldering.

 

EDIT: Another problem with using coins is that their exact metal isn't entirely pure. They are generally alloys and their composition changes over time. For example, pennies used to be primarily made from copper, until after 1982 when they were (and still are) made from zinc.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cent_(United_States_coin)

 

Years Material

1793–1857 copper

1857–1864 88% copper, 12% nickel (also known as NS-12)

1864–1942 bronze (95% copper, 5% tin and zinc)

1943 zinc-coated steel (also known as steel penny)

1944–1946 brass (95% copper, 5% zinc)

1946–1962 bronze (95% copper, 5% tin and zinc)

1962–1982 brass (95% copper, 5% zinc)

1982– present 97.5% zinc core, 2.5% copper plating

 

So if you are trying to generate electricity from a penny you should keep in mind it might not really be copper that you are using...

 

To summarize my suggestions:

1) Select materials whose composition is actually known, and

2) Make good electrical contacts to these metals

3) Make these electrical contacts outside the salt water so ONLY the metals of interest are part of your voltaic cell.

Edited by SH3RL0CK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
probably your use of regular paper.

 

try it again with toilet paper or similar.

 

EDIT: what do you mean by washer? this would also likely disrupt it.

 

Probably so. Most likely didn't absorb the water very well.

 

Oh yes, I forgot about that. The author of the tutorial used zinc washers. I chose to use nickles instead, I had read other tutorials in which they used pennies and nickles so I assumed it would work fine..

 

Back to the drawing board...haha


Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged
Forget the coins and find larger pieces of dissimilar metals. Preferably rods or pipes of such metals - or for the copper you might be able to use the wire itself (if it isn't tinned copper).

 

One possible problem is that because of the small size of the coins, the contact point between the wire and the coin occurs (taped) under the water, which leads to all sorts of possibilities. Even if you are keeping it above the salt water, taping is not a good way to make an electrical connection. By using larger pieces, you should be able to make far better electrical connections. And you should use something better than tape, perhaps soldering.

 

I watched a video on it and they didn't use anything to connect the metals, just laid them on top of each other, and they still got voltage!

 

Made it look so easy...here:

 

I need better metals, and maybe lay them on some sort of conductor. Would that help?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if it doesn't work with salt and water solution you might want to use a lemon. just put the coin and the zinc in the lemon. And use that as the battery. Lemon has acid so i reckon it might just work.

 

 

Its just a suggestion you can give it a try

Nahiyan:-):)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

nahiyan it works fin with salt water. thats what i used for my first voltaic pile.

 

just have wire, copper coin,soaked paper, nickel coin, copper coin, soaked paper ...<insert arbitrary number of repetitions here>... soaked paper, nickel coin, wire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nahiyan it works fin with salt water. thats what i used for my first voltaic pile.

 

just have wire, copper coin,soaked paper, nickel coin, copper coin, soaked paper ...<insert arbitrary number of repetitions here>... soaked paper, nickel coin, wire.

 

I'm a moron. I think what I did was instead of alternating like this :copper, soaked paper, nickle.

 

I did this: Copper, nickle, soaked paper...

 

Duh! hahaha...I don't have much experience in electronics and that sort of thing. You'll hafta excuse my stupidty..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm a moron. I think what I did was instead of alternating like this :copper, soaked paper, nickle.

 

I did this: Copper, nickle, soaked paper...

 

Duh! hahaha...I don't have much experience in electronics and that sort of thing. You'll hafta excuse my stupidty..

 

Hmmm...I'm not so sure that is your problem.

 

if I understand correctly, what you should have done is: cu/paper/Ni/Cu/paper/Ni...

 

you did: Cu/Ni/paper/Cu/Ni paper...

 

Isn't the second (what you did) just the reverse polarity of the first (what you should have done)? Or am I missing something here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

your order is fine too, just reversed.

 

but earlier you mention something about a washer being in there too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmmm...I'm not so sure that is your problem.

 

if I understand correctly, what you should have done is: cu/paper/Ni/Cu/paper/Ni...

 

you did: Cu/Ni/paper/Cu/Ni paper...

 

Isn't the second (what you did) just the reverse polarity of the first (what you should have done)? Or am I missing something here?

 

Well I'm not exactly sure if its the reverse polarity, it may well be.

 

I'm assuming based off of what insane_alien has said and looking at other tutorials that the author of the eHow article (The tutorial I was using last night) meant to say copper, soaked paper towel, zinc. Because I sure as heck couldn't get it to work using the method: copper, zinc, soaked paper towel.

 

It makes much more sense if the soaked paper towel is between the two metals...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ElectrochemCell.png

 

In the image the the two half-cells are linked by a 'salt bridge separator.' This allows for the transfer of ions but not water molecules, thus you have electricity....

 

Haha...I learned something!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well if you are only wanting the one cell then yes, it'd be copper/paper/zinc (or zinc/paper/copper) but for a pile and to get useful voltages you typically want more than one cell.

 

so you stick a bunch of them end to end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
well if you are only wanting the one cell then yes, it'd be copper/paper/zinc (or zinc/paper/copper) but for a pile and to get useful voltages you typically want more than one cell.

 

so you stick a bunch of them end to end.

 

And you end up with copper/paper/zinc/copper/paper/zinc........ or the reverse. It only affects the polarity of the battery. Make sure the pieces of paper are only touching the metals immediately next to them, i.e. not touching other papers or overlapping the metal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That and make sure you don't have them in reverse order anywhere. Your cells are penny/paper/nickel, and make sure you stack them the same side up, and no putting paper between different cells. I'd imagine it would work better with coins made of real copper though I don't know if that's necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes what insane_alien said is right. when we connect two batteries we connect them like this:negative to positive

so we have to connect it like the way insane_alien said:

copper/paper/zinc/copper/paper/zinc

copper is positive and zinc is negative so to connect the two battery cells we need to get copper and zinc together ie. connecting positive which is copper to negative which is the zinc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That and make sure you don't have them in reverse order anywhere. Your cells are penny/paper/nickel, and make sure you stack them the same side up, and no putting paper between different cells. I'd imagine it would work better with coins made of real copper though I don't know if that's necessary.

 

Well I managed to get my volt meter. I've actually been thinking about that, maybe I could find some copper washers or something at a hardware store.

 

Or maybe I could get a sheet of copper foil and make little diskettes, if I wanted to go all out that is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Other possibilities: Maybe you leaked electrolyte between different cells, so that it cancels the effect. Maybe one of your coins is corroded so there is no connection. If you have a voltmeter you should be able to test a single cell I think, and there is less possibility of things going wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Other possibilities: Maybe you leaked electrolyte between different cells, so that it cancels the effect. Maybe one of your coins is corroded so there is no connection. If you have a voltmeter you should be able to test a single cell I think, and there is less possibility of things going wrong.

 

All of those are possible. I was able to find some copper washers and galvanized washers I will integrate in future attempts.

 

Has anyone been able to identify a better electrolyte solution than salt water? I've heard of people using vinegar. What is something that would present a higher acidity than vinegar?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.