2 & 1 penny salt cells exhibiting interesting phenomenon!

I also realized that if you remove them from the load for a little while, they regain their original voltage and current and can be connected back to the load - this process can be repeated many times.

- sastri

One day I watched a interesting video about homemade batteries using non-toxic, green ingredients and it got me thinking. So I headed down to my lab and started tinkering. My first versions of this cell type were very simple, consisting of 2 copper clad pennies, one of which had one side of the copper sanded down to the zinc layer. I used plain old laser copy paper for the separation of the two metals and soaked a couple drops of electrolyte onto the paper and let it completely dry before proceeding. I then used Elmer's glue to attach the copper_penny -> paper <- zinc_penny together and let it dry.

The electrolyte consists of equal parts of the following mixed with denatured alcohol (you can also try rochelle salt):

  • epsom salt(Reason sound travels underwater)
  • alum
  • potassium chloride (NuSalt or NoSalt found in grocery stores)

This cell will behave like a galvanic cell when wet but when dry will exhibit strange characteristics.

At first the cell will behave like any ordinary galvanic reaction cell, It will produce about 0.5v - 1.0v with about 5 -7 mA output. As the cell dries out, I found it still has a good voltage 0.5v - 0.8v but the current was less than 100 microamps. These cells when dry and arranged in series will actually flash a White LED connected to a simple oscillating circuit. They also were able to charge up capacitors and run the oscillator for quite some time before seeming to drain and by that I mean I got tired of waiting weeks - so I increased the load. I also realized that if you remove them from the load for a little while, they will regain their original voltage and current and can be connected back to the load - this process can be repeated many times. The cell will produce DC and AC voltages! And if connected to a full bridge rectifier will still work!

Another version.

Another version of this cell is constructed in the same manner with the exception of substituting 3-mil thick paper for the laser copy paper. Soak it the same and let it dry. Also, instead of using another penny for the anode, use a piece of magnesium ribbon. Then glue it directly to the paper board with Elmer's glue and let it dry. This cell exhibits a strange phenomena of charging under pressure. Press or squeeze down on the paper board a number of times, the cell will increase in current! This may be due to piezoelectric properties of the salts. More experimentation is needed. I originally thought about the salt crystals crystallizing as the alcohol dried, sort of forming a solid state electrolyte(SSE) thereby producing effects like doped semiconductors. Perhaps the 3-mil paper acts like a lattice for the growing crystals, I did not want to use water to dissolve the salts as I was not trying to build a galvanic wet cell although denatured alcohol does have some H2O content, so you must wait for it to leave the reaction before the strange effects exhibit themselves.

Interesting uses for this type of energy storage are tremendous. More study could provide a cheap way for creating electricity from pressure sources. Think of all the harvested energy from roads or foot traffic on flooring! The reaction to light needs some more experimentation - maybe this could be a new type of cheap solar cell without the silicon? Can it be painted on a copper substrate and set in the sun? I'll keep tinkering and hopefully you will too!

More characteristics about these type of cells:

  • reacts with light
  • pressure charges it,sqeeze em! I'm sure you can think of many ways to use this more efficiently.
  • sound waves seem to charge it
  • heating increases the current but not the voltage
  • can be made stronger by soaking more electrolyte and letting it dry in repeated steps
  • can be used wet or dry
  • regains charge after draining if allowed to sit
  • can be shorted for long periods of time without any negative effects
  • produces AC and DC voltages with some form of energy burst effect

Other things you can try:

  • mix the elmers glue with activted carbon ( found in fish tank filters ) to get a doping effect
  • try graphite as the cathode, there will bee no corruption of the electrode


Experiments and research perfomed from 'without the United States'. [ 28 U.S. Code Sec. 1746 ]




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