...advertisement
Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: Homemade Batteries (pdf)

  1. #1

    Homemade Batteries (pdf)

    A new entry has been added to Links and Downloads Manager, category General

    Description: Make your own batteries...or die trying (I'm NOT kidding...be careful with this stuff).

    Link is directly to a pdf.

    To check it out, rate it or add comments, visit Homemade Batteries (pdf)
    The comments you make there will appear in the posts below.

  2. #2
    Sustainable Mascot SubAliasTen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    507
    Ok. I finally took some time to tinker with this.

    I went into this knowing from high school chemistry, the basics of what to expect and that this is not going to be an economical way to generate electricity. (Basically, as you generate electricity you corrode your metals, which will need replacing over time.)

    Still, it has a MacGuyver-like quality to it, and might be a fun way to impress your friends, or a cool science project to do with your kids.

    Here are the materials I used:

    One foot PVC (3" diameter), with cap
    One foot copper tubing (7/8" outside diameter)
    2 PVC "T"' couplers and a couple winds of electrical tape
    9.5" x 12" aluminum flashing (approx 1/16" thick)

    I glued the cap to the 3" PVC to make a water-holding tube with the top open. I rolled the flashing into a tight roll, stuffed it inside the PVC and released it. As it uncoiled it hugged the inside edge of the PVC, leaving the inside open.

    I wrapped the ends of the copper pipe with electrical tape until it fit snugly into the PVC T's. Then I placed the "Copper I" that I'd made into the 3" PVC tube. (The T's act as spacers to make sure copper doesn't touch the aluminum.)

    Filled it with 5 cups of water - which leaves about 1.5" from the top.

    My multimeter read about .75 volts, which actually surprised me and was higher than I'd expected. I tried a few different solutions including bleach as the article recommends, and another using salt water. Neither greatly changed my voltage. I did test my multimeter on a regular battery to make sure it read 1.5 volts, just to make sure it was testing correctly.

    Most of the materials I had on-hand, but I estimate the cost would be about $20 (US). So two of them in series would give you the same voltage of a regular consumer battery for a cost of $40. It's the copper pipe and PVC cap that kill you - the PVC cap is $7.50 and 1 foot of copper is about $7.00. (If you're serious about using this for real energy production, I'd make longer cells, as the cap costs the same for one foot or six.)

    If you're prepping for SHTF, I suggest you invest in some rechargeable NiCad batteries and a solar charger though.

    That said, the remaining question is "How long will these last"? When I get some more time, I'll build a second cell and attach some load on it to answer that question. I suspect the answer is "A long time", and with periodic maintenance of sanding the copper and aluminum (and replacing the water), it'll take a while for them to corrode completely.

    I think I'll also make a longer cell - maybe 4 feet - to see if the gains are linear. Don't hold your breath, but when I do, I'll post here.

    Summary: a fun afternoon, time well spent.

  3. #3
    Sustainable Stowaway Grower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    North Central Ohio
    Posts
    587
    Hey, thanks for doing that! I'll look forward to your update.

    How wide did your T-coupler end up being to fit snugly in the tube?
    “The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living on a small piece of land...” - Abraham Lincoln

  4. #4
    Sustainable Mascot SubAliasTen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    507
    I used standard 3/4" PVC T's, just like you'd use for irrigation. I wouldn't call the fit "snug" as there was probably 1/2" play on either side. But certainly good enough for proof-of-concept.

    I reassembled it (which took a whopping 60 seconds!) to take an ampere reading and get some pictures. Interesting, with water only this time, I only hit about .60 volts. With the 10% bleach solution, it went back up to .75.

    I couldn't get a stable Amp reading though. Not sure why. Maybe with a few cells it would be more stable.

    Here are some pictures:
    Materials:


    Looking inside the tube with the flashing expanded:


    Multimeter reading (with 10% bleach solution):

  5. #5
    Administrator roger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    1,687
    I'd be curious how much current you can draw before the voltage drops down to nothing. Pretty neat experiment! Sometime when I get some spare time I might try making one up using aluminum soda cans as the containers.

    BTW...I think your voltage is going to stay the same regardless of the length. However, available current would increase. My chemistry is a little rusty but I think the voltage is dependent on the type of reaction and how quickly it transfers electrons. The current is dependant on the volume so a bigger cell of the same type of reaction would produce more amps. I'll look that up later to be sure.

  6. #6
    Sustainable Mascot SubAliasTen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    507
    That's my next question also (how much can one of these power.) But I couldn't get an amps reading from my multimeter.

    I did some googling and found some other similar experiments that hinted that they got a single LED on momentarily, but that was it. (and they also had a hard time getting ampere readings.) So I'm guessing the answer is "not much".

    I'm still chasing this - mostly for the sake of curiosity. It'll be a few weeks until I have another window to play around.

  7. #7
    Administrator roger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    1,687
    Yeah I can't imagine there's a lot of current to be had there. Don't forget amps are measured in series with the load and there has to be current flow. I did look up the surface area question and I my memory of my basic electricity classes is still there. Voltage is dependant on the reaction. Current is dependant on how much of that reaction so more surface area gives more amps at the same voltage.

  8. #8
    Sustainable Mascot SubAliasTen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    507
    I ordered parts to make a "Joule Thief" which is in essence an LED light bulb that works on batteries so low that they don't even register on batteries. I'll call this operation a success if I can get light.

    Roger, I think that's probably why I can't get an amp reading - I don't have any load going on.

  9. #9
    Sustainable Regular A.B.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    289
    This is interesting. Having four cells sounds like it could be the equivalent of maybe two AAA's or AA's. I wonder how long they could power a crystal radio for?
    Sustainable living...down under

  10. #10
    Administrator roger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    1,687
    I don't know how much it increases with scale but the batteries made from this type of solution wouldn't produce a whole lot of current per square inch of plate although they will last a long time. You need a much more reactive electrolyte and much more exotic metals to produce higher current in a smaller space. If you had lots of space, material and time you could build lots of them and wire pairs of them in parrallel to increase the current.

    I'm afraid it's practical application is pretty limited but it is however a cool experiment and fun to play with. I can remember doing this same experiment in 7th grade science. I think we used carbon, zinc and vinegar and carbon, zinc and baking soda solution. Adding salt reduced the resistance of the battery which increased current flow a little. Current flow and battery life are inversly proportional.

  11. #11
    Sustainable Mascot SubAliasTen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    507
    Quote Originally Posted by A.B. View Post
    This is interesting. Having four cells sounds like it could be the equivalent of maybe two AAA's or AA's. I wonder how long they could power a crystal radio for?
    Roger's right. I think you'd need more than 4 to get as much juice as one AA and the cost alone wouldn't be worth it. Still fun though.

  12. #12
    Sustainable Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    133
    So, for what you spent on one 'PVC' battery, you could have purchased a 6 or 12 volt 'Long Storage' battery that comes charged, with electrolyte in a plastic bottle, and when you want to use the battery, you simply fill the cells?

    Doesn't sound very practical to me.

    ----------------------------------------------------

    I believe I would have made a 'Lead Sheet' battery from scrap lead and used something acidic to activate it.
    Any glass or hard plastic container about 6" deep would have worked, you would have produced around 1.5 to 2 volts per 'Cell' and there isn't anything much to it besides smelting the lead and pouring the lead into sheets or rolling out lead bars into sheets.

    Personally,
    I believe I would have used the expanded metal grid to save on lead,
    Then did the 'Lead Paste' corrosion process to make the plates more conductive and live longer,
    Then I would have use a 'Distilled' version of battery electrolyte.
    Concentrating the sulfuric acid for use in my new 'Field Battery' rather than using raw consumables that degrade very quickly...

    (Virtually the same process battery companies use to make 'Automotive' batteries in the first place)

    When batteries give up, the cases, lead, electrolyte are all salvageable.
    There is no such thing as a 'No Recyclable' lead/acid flooded battery, so don't overlook the components when the battery quits working as a 'Battery'...

    Sulfuric acid is not lost entirely, you can concentrate it again by boiling the water off,
    Then adding CLEAN-DISTILLED water to get the concentration you want.
    Personally, I would filter out the suspended solids that are in the acid, then boil it down to concentrate the acid since it's the solids that cause problems in the first place.

    By doing the lead paste process, you increase the surface area that produces current, so you battery can deliver more amperage and charge quicker,
    And the lead paste keeps the base lead from decomposing as quickly.

    Since even the battery case is salvageable if you are careful how you take the top off the case,
    You have a new case that has 3 or 6 cells already installed,
    Then all you have to do is restore the electrolyte and plate materials and you are back in business with a battery that will produce a usable current.

    Since you won't be able to seal the lid back on the case like the industrial glue or plastic welding does at the factory, it's a 'Placement' battery and not a 'Mobile' battery... You don't want it sloshing the electrolyte out,
    But in the event you had to rebuild batteries, there wouldn't be a lot of vehicles moving anyway...

    There are a TON of articles about reconditioning batteries out there,
    Some work, some are just STUPID,
    And there are tons of articles about what people in 3rd world countries are doing right now with 'Scrap' to make batteries.

    I think you would be better off with those articles instead of some 'Science Project' type instructions that make a 'Technical' battery instead of a useful, usable battery.

    You will NEVER be able to achieve the purity and quality control levels the big factories have right now, so your 'Salvage' or 'Rebuilt' batteries won't have the life span of factory batteries,
    But you WOULD have a USABLE battery that worked (More or Less) like the factory version.

    Since there haven't been any dramatic changes in Lead/Acid batteries in the past 150 years, the basic information is out there in droves,
    And if you take the time to dissect a few batteries, you will learn some of the 'secrets' the factories are currently using.

    I tried casting my own plates with varying degrees of success...
    I actually carved out a piece of wood with the grid I wanted and clamped a flat piece of wood against it, then poured into in like a mold.
    Worked OK, but not 'Optimal'.

    I tried 'Expanding' a lead sheet so it had holes in it and the plate came out much larger than the sheet I started with.
    Again, not bragging about the results, about half as much current production as a 'Factory' battery,
    but if you didn't have ANY batteries, 500 amps instead of 1,000 amps is better than ZERO amps.

    What I really learned was...
    I have no idea how to produce a battery as good as the ones from the factory,
    IT was labor intensive and somewhat dangerous,
    And seriously not worth the effort as long as I could purchase batteries with no issues...

    You have to figure that if 'Industry' collapsed, it wouldn't take long for SOMEONE to start making a useful battery and trading/exporting it for goods/services.

    Since you can melt lead fairly easily, and there is no shortage of lead currently, and would be more 'Scrap' lead in the event you guys often talk about (Every vehicle will donate at least 50 pounds of lead in batteries, tire weights, ect.) I don't see an issue.

    Refining most common acids, (Sulfuric, Hydrochloric, ect.) isn't hard to do and have been refined/filtered since before the Roman Empire, so that information/ability is out there...

    -----------------------------------------

    One thing I can guarantee you is,
    YOU WILL CURTAIL CONSUMPTION when you try to live on battery power!
    So much of battery power (and all electric power) is wasted right now it's not funny.

    By some estimates, up to 80% of electrical grid production is lost in transmission or wasted by the end user with no production results.

    The common 'Car', anything with a charging system, could charge up a battery string off the alternator and wouldn't be noticeable when you drive...
    The fact we normally only have ONE battery in our vehicles is a recent occurrence.

    Since I'm an OLD FAR, OLD MECHANIC, and OLD HOT RODDER,
    I remember when the automatic transmission pumps were in the BACK of the transmissions so even automatic transmission vehicles could be towed to start them...
    Mostly because batteries were unreliable until WW II developments.

    VERY FEW vehicles made before WW II didn't have a provision for starting by hand or pull/push staring...
    And automatic transmissions made into the mid 60's had provision for pull/push starting for the same reasons...
    Only current production methods and quality control practices have made batteries 'Reliable'...

    -----------------------------------------

    For you 'End Of The World' types,
    Consider a 'Magneto' ignition for your vehicles. (like the old time cars and tractors used to have, and current top fuel race cars have now, very powerful, no external electrical current/wiring required)

    No batteries required, no way for an EMP to destroy the electronics,
    Just push or pull (or roll off a hill) and you are off to the races.

    One part of my former business was rebuilding magnetos for old cars and farm tractors...
    They were produced in the 20s, 30s, & 40s, and were still plugging along fine until some bushing or bearing FINALLY wore out and it wound up on my bench,
    Or someone was restoring the vehicle and wanted the unit tuned up for that rebuild.

    Not much to them at all, some breaker points are the biggest issue, but those are cheap, easy to acquire, store forever if you keep them dry, and are as simple as a hammer to install/use.

    I've also seen a small side shaft (horizontal shaft) gasoline engine mounted to turn larger engines, like big diesels, instead of a 'Starter',
    You pull start the smaller engine, it makes enough horsepower to start the big engine then you shut the 'Pony Engine' down and disengage the clutch between 'Pony Engine' and main engine.

    Another way to NOT need batteries even for very large engines... Like on large diesel equipment.

    Just some ideas...

  13. #13
    Sustainable Member backwoodschemist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Northern NY
    Posts
    73
    I'll go with what metalgrinder said, and a pony motor is always fun to watch, if you bring ear protection, (some of those motors really scream, and most have limited sound reduction)

    Battery technology is 150 years old, and the posted PDF is not great, google up a better source.

    Lead/acid batteries are fascinating mostly because of their high current delivery, but their are many different possibilities available. This is an area that works very well with doing some research/homework followed by some experimentation.

    As always you can't get something for nothing. The best batteries only have about 1% of the energy of gasoline on a weight/weight basis. Home made batteries will probably be much, much less. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density

  14. #14
    Sustainable Mascot SubAliasTen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    507
    Quote Originally Posted by MetalGrinder View Post
    So, for what you spent on one 'PVC' battery, you could have purchased a 6 or 12 volt 'Long Storage' battery that comes charged, with electrolyte in a plastic bottle, and when you want to use the battery, you simply fill the cells?

    Doesn't sound very practical to me.
    I think that was covered and agreed upon before taking on the experiment...

    Quote Originally Posted by SubAliasTen View Post
    I went into this knowing from high school chemistry, the basics of what to expect and that this is not going to be an economical way to generate electricity. (Basically, as you generate electricity you corrode your metals, which will need replacing over time.)

  15. #15
    Sustainable Member tarabrae's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    110
    Yep, not practical, but would make a great experiment.

    Duly stocking up on rechargeables and solarchargers though
    mythic aussie doomer

  16. #16
    Sustainable Stowaway spacecase0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    850
    Quote Originally Posted by A.B. View Post
    I wonder how long they could power a crystal radio for?
    a crystal radio does not need any batteries, a transistor radio needs batteries.

    I had not thought to set up a crystal radio, they don't have batteries to go bad or run out, could be a good thing to have in a bug out bag.

  17. #17
    Sustainable Elder Ludi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Central Texas of Doom
    Posts
    2,218
    Or radio made of junk: Foxhole radio http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skKmwT0EccE
    "Underground goddamn monsters." - Burt Gummer

  18. #18
    Sustainable Stowaway spacecase0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    850
    I was thinking of that kind of radio when I posted...

    but then I was looking on the web and found this
    http://www.midnightscience.com/kits.html#kit5
    then got distracted and did nto post any links at all....

  19. #19
    Sustainable Mascot SubAliasTen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    507
    Radios are so inexpensive and energy efficient, for my BOB I would rather put my trust in a solar-powered commercial device than a DIY kit. When I need it to work, I don't want one of my soldering connections to cut out on me, or having something that isn't protected by a case and risk having something damage it.

  20. #20
    Sustainable Stowaway spacecase0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    850
    I guess the radio I always carry is fairly solid...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaesu_VX-7R

    but building kits does not bug me at all,
    I want to know how it works so that I can fix it if I need to...
    but I can see why many people would not want to do that.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •