Adam graduated from Virginia Tech in 2005 with a Bachelor's Degree in Technology Education. After college Adam began his teaching career at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Adam currently teaches courses in Engineering and Energy Systems at TJ.
How to Make a Battery Out of a Film Canister
Engineer Adam Kemp demonstrates how to make a battery out of a film canister.
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Adam Kemp: Hi! I am Adam Kemp and today we are learning about how to make a battery. In this clip, we are going to learn about how to make a battery out of an old style film canister.
To start, you are going to need about a half a film canister full of water and this is going to act as half of our electrolyte we are going to be producing. Next, you are going to take your white vinegar that we obtained in the first clip and you are going to fill up the film canister about 90% of the white fluid and if you spill any, you have got these handy paper towels that we got in order to clean up your mess. Next, what you are going to do is take the cap of the film canister and place it on top of the newly filled canister and give it a little shake to make sure it is mixed up properly. After you have shaken your electrolyte, if you take your nail, that is going to act as your cathode and poke a little hole on the top of the film canister and that will allow for you to insert the copper wire necessary to make the anode. Then go ahead and poke another hole on the opposite side of the film canister and insert the galvanized steel nail into the film canister and that is going to produce your cathode.
Next, the tricky part, we are going to take a piece of copper wire and we are going to remove any oxidation using our steel wool. In doing so, we are going to produce a much more efficient, higher power battery. Then take your nice, shiny copper wire and carefully wrap it around a pen. What this is going to do, is produce a coil of copper wire which will increase the surface area that the copper comes in contact with the electrolyte. In doing this, having more copper inside of our electrolyte solution is going to increase the voltage and the current through our film canister battery.
Finally, you'll end up with a little spring looking piece of copper wire that is going to act as our anode. Go ahead and remove the top of our film canister. Carefully insert the copper wire into the top of the film canister. Make sure that the anode and the cathode do not touch, if they do, you won't get any current or there won't be any voltage flowing through them. Attach the top and if we go ahead and check the voltage coming out of our film canister battery, we will see that it is substantially higher than the potato battery and just a little bit higher than the battery made out of lemons. In this case, our electrolyte is made out of vinegar which is acetic acid and we are diluting it with water. In order to drive our LED again, we are going to need 1.5 volts. In this case, we are getting 0.9 volts, so we are going to need another film canister battery. What we can do is go ahead and attach these film canister batteries in series, attaching the cathode of one to the anode of the other and measure the voltage coming out of our new battery. In this case we are getting about 1.9 volts, which is more than adequate to power the LED. We attach our anode; we attach our cathode lead and then our anode lead and connect them to our LED, we get a pretty substantial amount of illumination.
This has been a demonstration on how to make a film canister battery. Coming up next is how to make a voltaic pile battery.