# Trying to find the best metals to use in order to make homemade batteries

#### Rolland B. Heiss

Joined Feb 4, 2015
236
I've only recently returned home from work and haven't had a great deal of time yet to explore metals further and many I do not have available but by filling one icecube 'cell' with mere tap water these are the results I've managed so far:

Silver/Aluminum: 0.63V
Graphite/Aluminum: 0.34V
Silver/Nickel: 0.33V
Graphite/Steel: 0.30V
Nickel/Aluminum: 0.22V
Silver/Copper: 0.15V
Nickle/Graphite: 0.12V
Silver/Graphite: 0.04V
Copper/Graphite: 0.00V
Gold/Graphite: 0.00V

Now I understand that metals are considered on a scale from least noble to most noble. My question is this: Have any of you tested Gold/Magnesium and would that be the highest potential since Magnesium is least noble and Gold is most noble? If that wouldn't give the highest potential do any of you know what would? Now I'm just experimenting on a basic level with water right now because it is a quick way to discover which metals work best together so I realize an optimal electrolyte would give more efficient results. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, what are the best known electrolytes for efficiency in relation to some of the metals I've been testing this afternoon that will not eat the metals away too rapidly? I know I can figure it all out on my own eventually but any shortcuts are appreciated since time is often not my friend and I'm sure most of you can relate to that! Thanks for reading me.

#### WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
25,745
Get a text, or do a search on line, for basic chemistry stuff related to the electromotive series or to galvanic cells.

This stuff is often covered in high school chemistry, to you might look for a high school chemistry or perhaps a freshman (college) chemistry text.

#### Rolland B. Heiss

Joined Feb 4, 2015
236
Get a text, or do a search on line, for basic chemistry stuff related to the electromotive series or to galvanic cells.

This stuff is often covered in high school chemistry, to you might look for a high school chemistry or perhaps a freshman (college) chemistry text.
Yeah, I know but they never taught me this stuff when I was in high school chemistry. Perhaps that is why I ended up in the principal's office all the time. I was bored to death and all they had were textbooks with curriculum sheets printed out by someone who figured one size fits all in a classroom of 30+ from year to year. So just figure that I'm trying to make up for a whole bunch of wasted time that I could have put to better use back then and forgive my ignorance because I wasn't taught any better with taxpayer money and those teachers got summer vacations!

#### wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,390
"Half cell potentials" will be a useful search term as well. Find out what that means, so you can understand the tables you'll find. Do realize that all the numbers are at precisely defined conditions. Those may not be relevant conditions for whatever you're doing.

#### Rolland B. Heiss

Joined Feb 4, 2015
236
These things don't always stand as absolutes... known potentials and textbooks. Take Graphene for example which was first isolated in 2003 I believe. It was hypothesised up until then. One of the moderators posted an interesting article about the Aluminum/Graphite battery recently which caused me to start testing the things I did today after thinking about it and reading the article over and over. So, in the instance of Graphene for example the textbooks since then I imagine have added a new chapter or at least a few paragraphs or three. What new paragraphs or chapters will be added to 'what is known and what is' a decade from now I wonder? Heck, seems to me there is a lot more under the sun waiting to be discovered and the medium we are communicating on now would have been laughed at by those long since passed who swore by the Abacus. Not that the Abacus isn't still a great discovery mind you! I've got ideas as we all do (hopefully) apart from what we are told or what they beat into us when they lock you in a classroom after everyone else is down the hall at music class with no witnesses.

#### wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,390
New things come along, but that list of cell potentials is firmly tied to thermodynamics. Don't hold your breath for any significant change to the things already on the list.

#### WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
25,745
Yeah, I know but they never taught me this stuff when I was in high school chemistry. Perhaps that is why I ended up in the principal's office all the time. I was bored to death and all they had were textbooks with curriculum sheets printed out by someone who figured one size fits all in a classroom of 30+ from year to year. So just figure that I'm trying to make up for a whole bunch of wasted time that I could have put to better use back then and forgive my ignorance because I wasn't taught any better with taxpayer money and those teachers got summer vacations!
All the more reason to track down an introductory high school or college chemistry text. Since this is where most people see this stuff for the first time, the text is written on the assumption that the person reading it is seeing it for the first time. When I graduated from high school they let us keep our chem texts because they were getting a new edition the following year. I've gone back to that thing many times even though I have a few more advanced texts on hand.

#### Rolland B. Heiss

Joined Feb 4, 2015
236
New things come along, but that list of cell potentials is firmly tied to thermodynamics. Don't hold your breath for any significant change to the things already on the list.
I discovered something interesting today. Well, it was new to me anyway! I used some glue to form a glue type battery that I watched someone do on a video site but I used a silver quarter and a pull tab from the top of a beer can between a mixture of crystalline substances and have voltage of 0.73 at the moment. I'm waiting for it to dry out and see how much higher the voltage will go and for how long a duration it will hold that voltage. Anyway, while I am letting the moisture in the glue dry for at least 24 to 48 hours I have stumbled upon something else interesting. Someone had a couple of different metals separated by Alum and when heat hit the configuration the voltage rose so I thought about the Seebeck effect and Peltier modules used to generate electricity. However, during the course of my limited experimentation this evening anyway, what I did doesn't seem to need much if any temperature differentiation as far as hot and cold. What did I do? I put some glue on part of a Canadian nickel and sprinkled it with Alum. When the Alum dried some I connected one alligator clip to the exposed part of the nickel and touched the other clip to the glue/Alum mix and heated the nickel up. When I did that the voltage rose until my hand got too hot even wearing heavy leather gloves. Now the voltage was pretty much zero without the heat but with the heat it just kept rising in voltage as I stated above. So this is not something that has potential on its own but rather a simple candle flame burning for a decent amount of time or warm sunlight can produce voltage with such a setup and with my limited understanding I find that incredibly interesting with perhaps some practical implication for small applications. Have you tried any of this sort of thing? If so I'd like to hear what you may have discovered in the course of your curiosity. I believe this is something I will be testing further in the near future.

#### wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,390
Personally, I don't find a voltage interesting at all without a load to challenge it. Your meter places a load of, probably, only 10MΩ on the power source. If you place a 1kΩ resistor in parallel to your probes, then any voltage you see is "real". If you see 1V, you're driving 1mA through that resistor.

Of course you can use whatever load you like, but 1V across your meter is only 0.1µA. That's not very useful.

#### Rolland B. Heiss

Joined Feb 4, 2015
236
Personally, I don't find a voltage interesting at all without a load to challenge it. Your meter places a load of, probably, only 10MΩ on the power source. If you place a 1kΩ resistor in parallel to your probes, then any voltage you see is "real". If you see 1V, you're driving 1mA through that resistor.

Of course you can use whatever load you like, but 1V across your meter is only 0.1µA. That's not very useful.
I understand that but when I take a 1.5 volt battery (that must be purchased and runs out all too soon) and test it I don't get much for amp readings. Anything that has potential that I can do at home interests me. I'll keep you apprised in the near future in relation to what may or may not come of my little experiments. In the meantime I appreciate you taking the time to respond. If nothing else a little LED night light that doesn't require a couple of store bought batteries for the dog babies might be useful for them and save me a bit of money since what I'm experimenting with is already sitting around doing nothing!

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,426
I used a pile of lemons once to light a LED:

The process was short lived but the LED did glow. I simply cut away the contaminated lemon and made some good lemonade.

During the mid 80s I worked with some pretty neat thermal batteries for a missile project. Those things were interesting and expensive, very expensive. Once triggered the battery would deliver full power across several voltages (about 500 watts) for about 30 to 60 min and the show was over. They were costing about $1,500 USD per battery. Never gave much thought to making one. They are popular in ordinance applications. Ron Thread Starter #### Rolland B. Heiss Joined Feb 4, 2015 236 I used a pile of lemons once to light a LED: View attachment 84599 The process was short lived but the LED did glow. I simply cut away the contaminated lemon and made some good lemonade. During the mid 80s I worked with some pretty neat thermal batteries for a missile project. Those things were interesting and expensive, very expensive. Once triggered the battery would deliver full power across several voltages (about 500 watts) for about 30 to 60 min and the show was over. They were costing about$1,500 USD per battery. Never gave much thought to making one. They are popular in ordinance applications.

Ron
I am beyond the lemon battery thing but memories are always nice Ron as I'm sure you realize since you shared a bit of memories with me this evening! Now what I'm about to say is entirely unrelated but my grandfather had a lemon tree and it was his favorite tree in the world. That tree stood all through the years and there was nothing wrong with it at all. Always produced abundantly each and every year. Yet, almost a year after my grandfather passed away the tree died despite the fact that his son took care of it. I've always wondered about that and the whole thing about energy never dying but merely changing form. Could be the energy that my grandfather had and the energy of the tree needed to be together somehow and once grandfather changed form the tree felt the need to do so as well. I don't know but I think about such things which probably makes me seem odd. Yet, it is a very odd coincidence when one considers the connection between my grandfather and his favorite tree. So speculation creeps in and I still wonder about the things I don't understand. I appreciate you sharing what you did for a multitude of reasons.

#### WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
25,745
Coincidences happen all the time. If the tree hadn't died but the grass in his front yard had yellowed you would have probably wondered the same thing.

One time on a trip with my parents in another state we ran into their next door neighbors at a highway rest stop. What are the odds against that? Gee, must be some cosmic force at play. Sure, the odds of meeting those particular people at that particular rest stop are pretty high. But the odds of meeting someone we now someplace well away from home over some period of time spanning many years -- almost guaranteed. It's a variant of the Birthday Paradox.

#### Rolland B. Heiss

Joined Feb 4, 2015
236
Coincidences happen all the time. If the tree hadn't died but the grass in his front yard had yellowed you would have probably wondered the same thing.

One time on a trip with my parents in another state we ran into their next door neighbors at a highway rest stop. What are the odds against that? Gee, must be some cosmic force at play. Sure, the odds of meeting those particular people at that particular rest stop are pretty high. But the odds of meeting someone we now someplace well away from home over some period of time spanning many years -- almost guaranteed. It's a variant of the Birthday Paradox.
I disagree with your assessment but that doesn't mean I am correct or that you are wrong. Let me tell you a short story. My Grandmother died and I happened to be asleep at the time. I was dreaming and in the dream my Grandmother burst through my front screen door as if in spirit form and then fully materialized. She was trying to tell me something and just as I was ready to listen I was awakened by the telephone. I awoke and answered the phone. It was my mother calling to tell me that Grandmother had just died. Can you explain that?

#### jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,372
I am more interested in your carbon/gold batteries. What do you think were the half equations?

John

#### shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
7,670
If serious about this, look at modernizing the "Grove battery" concept. Used for telegraph power before there was generators to recharge a battery. No telling how well they could work with more modern materials.

#### Rolland B. Heiss

Joined Feb 4, 2015
236
If serious about this, look at modernizing the "Grove battery" concept. Used for telegraph power before there was generators to recharge a battery. No telling how well they could work with more modern materials.
Thanks for the input (pun not intended)! It seems to me that anything with a liquid electrolyte is not the best way to go so despite the fact that I tested out which metals work best in simple water merely to test the best ratios. I'm more interested in dry cells that will sustain for extended periods of time and outdo the store bought throw away 1.5V batteries you have to constantly buy when they fail all too soon. I'm not looking to power a home or any sort of pipe dream such as that (although if I could find a way to do so I'd be ecstatic mind you) but that only happens in dreams! It would just be nice to listen to the radio and have LED lighting at night from something I built myself knowing that the power company wasn't charging for it. More money in my pocket for dog food and whatever else because every penny counts, at least in my household! The Grove discovery does intrigue me though and I'll think about how to perhaps alter it some as time permits.

#### Rolland B. Heiss

Joined Feb 4, 2015
236
I am more interested in your carbon/gold batteries. What do you think were the half equations?

John
You tell me! What would the half equation of zero be?

#### jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,372
I spent many years as a chemist. My question was meant as a suggestion that before you go mixing things together you give some thought as to what the reaction might be. It's safer that way.

John

#### Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
13,707
Well there probably aren't any metals that you can find cheap or free that you would be able to use to fabricate a dry battery of the type you have in mind that won't involve some pretty hazardous reactions. If you find any, I'll be the first to admit the error of my ways. For example, Lithium is all the rage in batteries, but trust me you don't want to touch metalic Lithium, not even with sombody else's hands. Be careful and stay safe.