How to make a battery


DSC01488A bit of science fun for Grace. We made a battery out of zinc washers and copper coins.

What we did

DSC01446The aim was to try and power a small LED using a home-made battery.

DSC01450First, cut two short lengths of copper wire, and strip the ends.

Stick the end of one piece of wire to a zinc washer.

DSC01454Stick the end of the other piece of wire to a 2p coin.

This gives us the top and bottom of our battery.

Attach the other ends of the wires to the pins of a small LED – we went for the lowest voltage LED that we could find at maplins.

DSC01456We cut up a 3p washing cloth into small squares the size of our zinc washers.

Then soaked them an electrolyte liquid.

DSC01459Googling for what makes a suitable electrolyte liquid returns a variety opinions, so we tried a few approaches.

We made three batteries – one using lemon juice, one with vinegar and one using hot salty water. The vinegar seemed to result in the brightest LED.

DSC01460We then started building up layers – starting with the 2p coin with the wire stuck to it, then putting a zinc washer on top, then a piece of soaked cloth.

Copper, zinc, soaked cloth, copper, zinc, soaked cloth, etc.

DSC01462Finally, we put the zinc washer with the other wire stuck to it on top, completing the circuit.

DSC01466Ta da! We had our battery. 🙂

DSC01483The LED was surprisingly bright!

I wasn’t sure whether this was gonna work (my electronics knowledge kinda sucks), but it worked really well first time.

DSC01478Another surprise was the way that the zinc washers seemed to scorch.

A scorch mark the shape of the 2p coin next to it was left on each of the washers.

DSC01481A before-and-after shows the effect of being in our little battery!

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