July 13, 2008

Pennies = power? (reposted from LJ)

Bare with me, because this is either the worst or best idea I've had this week. It definitely gave me giggles when I thought of it. Sadly, it was not quite mad scientist cackling. I'm saving that for something bigger.

US penny = Copper clad zinc ingot (97.5% Zn, 2.5% Cu).

The Zinc-air battery (or Fuel Cell) uses zinc and atmospheric oxygen as a fuel, generating current through the oxidation of zinc. It would require some amount of copper wire to create conducting leads at the anode and cathode.

Copper and zinc have different reactivities, and this difference could be exploited to remove the copper jacket from the zinc ingot. This link shows a method for using 6M HCl to dissolve the copper and recover the zinc, but doesn't suggest a good way to recover the copper. That will take some looking around, but it's not critical to the project.

How many pennies would it take to build a Zn-ZnO battery that equaled the power output of a AA battery? Is there any chance that it's fewer pennies than such a battery would cost? It's not likely, by any means, but this is government we're talking about. Even if it isn't cost-effective, I've got loads of pennies to try this with just as an experiment in fabricating a simple battery (it's not technically a fuel cell in this case unless you can reverse the Zn-ZnO reaction and store new energy).

Posted by: leoncaruthers at 07:52 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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