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Electrical How to DIY a rechargeble Zinc-Nickel battery?

  1. Jun 15, 2012 #1
    I was looking at the simple example of making a voltaic pile using pennies, nickles, and salt soaked paper towels to light up a small LED lamp, but I hate the idea of immediately oxidizing all the metals just get a 1.2 volts for a only a couple hours so I've been researching ways to make it rechargable. (aside from taking it apart, cleaning the metal off, adding more salt soaked paper, and putting it together again)

    It appears that newer pennies use a lot of zinc (to save money because it is cheaper than copper). I always saw the 6 cent battery as a copper-nickel voltaic chemical reaction with salt water, but I see the composition of the metals will now more closely resemble that of the AA NiZn rechargeable battery cells I use here at home, resulting in an even better conductivity of 1.6v, with very fast charging.

    Clearly Nickel and Zinc are used to create the battery, but what electrolyte would be best to avoid and or replace the corrosive non-renewable properties of vinegar and/or table salt? My research suggests to use Phosphate as the electrolyte. Can I just use food grade Sodium Phosphate soaked piece of cloth or paper towel (or phoshate fertilizer) between the Zinc Penny and the Nickel to create a rechargable voltaic pile between the 2 metals? (I have a few small solar panels to recharge it.)

    Or do I have to use a delicate mix of Deionized Water, Potassium Hydroxide (KOH/Lye), Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH), Lithium Hydroxide (LiOH), Potassium Fluoride (KF), Zinc Oxide (ZnO), Sodium Phosphate (Na3PO4 12H2O), Indium Sulfate In2(SO4) to get any results?

    I realize this special mix is to avoid as much oxidation as possible, while also increasing the level activity, but to keep this learning expierment simple, can I just replace the table salt with Sodium Phoshate and still get some volts and the ability to recharge? (I plan on using a pile of about 100 pennies and 100 nickels probably 20 pairs in a series in 5 parallel groups hopefully this will at least create a 1.2v 500ma battery I can recharge.)
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
  2. jcsd
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