Homemade Battery | Battery (Electricity) | Rechargeable Battery

MINIATURE LAMP burns for about a minute as this simple storage battery discharges.

By Carleton J. Lynde, Ph. D.
Professor Emeritus of Physics, Columbia University

and you can do it with safe, easy-to-find, inexpensive materials. All that's required is a small amount of sheet lead, a few tacks, a strip of wood, a short length of wire, two dry cells and a tumbler or beaker of water. Your first step is to cut the sheet lead into two 4xl-1/2-inch strips. Then take a 4xlx1/2-inch strip of wood and tack the lead strips on opposite sides as shown in one of the photographs. Put one tack in each side first. The second tack on each side is used as a terminal for a nineinch length of wire, so wrap the end of the wire under the head of the tack before you drive it in. Next dissolve a heaping tablespoonf ul of baking soda in a tumbler of hot water and lay the wooden strip across the top so that the lead strips are in the solution. To charge your battery, you must

OU can make storage Ybattery aeasilywillrunaasmallmotor— that light a 1-1/2-volt lamp, ring bell or toy

connect the two nine-inch wires for five minutes to two 1-1/2-volt dry cells joined in series. The last photograph shows how the wires are connected to accomplish this. When the five minutes are up, disconnect the wires from the dry cells and connect them to the terminals of a light, bell or toy motor. Your storage battery will operate any of them for about a minute. Here is what happens: Originally, each strip of lead has a gray coating of lead oxide (PbO) which is formed naturally from contact with the air. When the strips are connected to the batteries, one is connected to a plus terminal and the other is connected to a negative terminal; thus one is a positive strip and the other is a negative strip. The direct current from the batteries causes oxygen to be deposited on the positive strip and hydrogen to be deposited on the negative strip. The hydrogen combines with the oxygen on the negative strip
Mechanix Illustrated

and takes it away, leaving lead (Pb). The oxygen combines with the oxygen on the positive strip and stays, making it lead peroxide (PbO,). Therefore, one strip is lead and the other is lead peroxide and your storage battery is fully charged. When you disconnect the wires from the dry cells and connect them to a lamp, bell or motor, your storage battery starts to discharge and the direction of the current, or the flow of the hydrogen and oxygen, is reversed. Then the hydrogen causes the lead peroxide (PbO2) to change to lead oxide (PbO) and the oxygen changes the lead (Pb) to lead oxide (PbO). Thus both strips are once again lead oxide and your storage battery is fully discharged. You can repeat the process by recharging the storage battery with the dry cells. Naturally, with larger plates, you can draw more current. •

SHEET LEAD is cut into strips. It has a naturally acquired coating of lead oxide.

TACKS secure strips of lead to wood. A wire extends from one tack on each side.

BAKING SODA is dissolved in a beaker of hot water before immersing the lead.

CHARGE the battery by connecting the wires to two dry cells wired in series.

July, 1959

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