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Penny Battery

The battery expirement was an in-class project dedicated to an analysis on the structure of cells. Our in class battery was relatively crude, and was a simple stack of a copper penny, metal washer, some aluminum foil, (as a makeshift wire) and a square of cardboard soaked in vinager to provide an acid.

I answered a few questions in the postlab review:

  • What metals were involved in your battery?
  • Zinc, Copper, and aluminum (which acted as a conductor.) I don't quite know why, but copper and zinc are required in the making of batteries. Maybe it has to do with their electron structure, which may encourage the flow of electrons one way, but not the other?

  • If your LED requires 1.5 volts to light up, how many volts did each cell in your battery provide? (A cell is defined as a group of penny, zinc washer and cardboard.)
  • Assuming the data is correct, I would guess that our battery had a total of 1.5v, (the minimum required) or 0.5 volts per cell.

  • How is energy being converted to electricity in this battery?
  • I couldn't say. My guess would be something along the lines of the excess of electrons being attracted to one of the metals, before being conducted through the circuit, to the other metal. I'd like to learn more!

  • What is a voltaic pile? How is it related to the battery you just built?
  • To me, a voltaic pile sounds like a a group of cells stacked together to increase voltage at the sacrifice of greater amperage. An example might be found in a 9 volt battery, which has a much higher voltage by combining 6 count 1.5 volt cells.

  • What is an electrolyte?
  • The definition of an elecrolyte is an ionized liquid that can be used for the function seen in cells. In this case, the electrolyte is the vinegar in the cardboard.

  • How did you know which end was possitive and which end was negative?
  • Apparently, according to the definition of 'cathode,' the copper penny was the positive side of the cell, meaning that electrons traveled from the zinc to the copper.

  • Determine at least two other uses for your battery other than lighting an LED. What else could your battery power?
  • Some obvious answers might be an electric motor, or a piezo speaker. Some more creative example might be an electrical ignition for combustion, or maybe a transitionary enegry source for an electric violin.