How to Make a Battery

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 176,636
    Engineer Adam Kemp demonstrates how to make a battery. It will include making a potato battery and a lemon battery. Watch how simple it can be to create a battery–never go without power again!

    Adam Kemp: Hello! My name is Adam Kemp and I am the Energy Systems Live Director at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Today, we are going to give an overview of how to make several different types of batteries. First half, we are going to start with how to make a potato battery. Second half, we'll tell you how to make a lemon battery and then a battery out of a film canister and then finally a battery called a voltaic pile and then we're going to learn how to apply those batteries to make them bigger, better, better and stronger. To start, let's go over some of the materials we're going to need to make our batteries. First half, we are going to need some paper towels to keep clean, some white vinegar, a potato, a lemon, some aluminum foil, a good pair of scissors, some galvanized steel nails, an LED, some pennies and nickels, a multimeter, where you can get online at many electronic distributors and some electronic connector cables also known as leads, which you can as well get online where you would find a multimeter and copper wire.

    Just as a reminder, today we are working with scissors, plastic knives and short nails; so just make sure you are careful. Now, that we have all the materials we need to make a battery, we need to learn a little bit about how a battery works. To start we are going to look at the two main materials that we're going to be making the battery out of. The first material is copper. We are going to get the copper from a copper wire. The second material that we are gong to make a battery out of, is another metal called the zinc and the zinc is going to come from the galvanized properties of the steel nails and the galvanized zinc is the coating that they put on the nails in order to keep them from rusting and the nice thing about it is it's made out of zinc.

    So in order to start making a battery, we've got our two plates made of copper and zinc and what we are going to do is we are going to add a second material know as a electrolyte and in this case we are going to be using an acid. So if we take the two metal plates and we put it in a cup and we fill the cup with a little bit of water and a little bit of acid, naturally what's going to happen is these things called electrons are going to be released from the items in the copper and the zinc and what happens is because the electrons that get released in the zinc are little bit harder than the ones that get released in the copper, the copper is going to absorb the electrons coming from the zinc plate and so if we take a cord or a wire and we attach it to the two plates, what's going to happen is the electrons from the zinc plate are going to transfer to the electrons on the copper plate and this is going to give us the principles of a battery.

    Now, instead of having a wire attached to the two, if we use our multimeter we can read how much voltage is being produced from this setup and if we put our multimeter in between those two wires; now we can read how much voltage is being produced. Now, that we have learned a little bit about how a battery works, I am going to give you a brief introduction to my background. I graduated from Virginia Tech in 2005 with the Bachelor's Degree in Technology Education and immediately came to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology to teach freshmen technology courses. I moved on later and last year I began teaching two courses systems, Engineering and Energy Systems and this year I am the Energy Systems Live Director. Coming up next, we are going to learn a little bit about basic electronics and series of parallel circuits and how to use some of the material that we are going to be working with to make our batteries.