Mr. Landgreen
Honors Physics
5 May 2017
Physics Keystone Project: Does the Molarity of an Electrolyte Solution Impact a Batterys
Voltage?
Introduction:
In this lab, I constructed multiple batteries by using paper towels, pennies, and multiple solutions
of NaCl, each with a different concentration of NaCl, in order to see if time and the molarity of salt used
as the solution to saturate the substrate would impact the voltage of each battery. Upon completing the
lab, I discovered that my batterys voltage actually increased due to the changes in the batterys electrical
resistance and electrical current as a direct result of manipulating the molarity of the electrolyte substance
used to saturate the substrate.
Materials:
1. One multimeter
2. 510 pennies (Post 1982)
3. Sandpaper (With either a fine or coarse grain)
4. Electrolyte solution (Gatorade, citrus juice, NaCl, KCl, CaCl 2 solutions, etc.)
5. Paper towels or other form of absorbable substrate
6. Forceps
7. 500 mL beaker
8. Containers to hold the three solutions of NaCl
9. At least 150 grams of NaCl
10. Dry measuring utensils
11. Scissors
Procedure:
1. Initially, I sanded down one side of six different pennies until one side of the penny was
completely zinc, but the other side was copper.
2. I traced the pennies on a paper towel and then cut out the traced outlines which I would
later place between each penny for my batterys substrate.
3. At this point, I began to saturate three twohundred mL solutions with one molar of NaCl,
two molars of NaCl, and three molars of NaCl, respectively.
4. After I calculated how many grams of NaCl that I needed to create three different
solutions, I added in roughly 11.5, 23.75, and 35 grams of NaCl and stirred each solution until all
of the salt was completely dissolved into the water.
5. I began to construct my battery by placing pieces of paper towel in between each penny
which I dampened with an electrolyte solution of NaCl before placing it atop the penny with
forceps. Following this, I recorded the initial voltage of the battery with a multimeter in order to
obtain my first data point of the batterys voltages.
6. Having recorded the first voltage, I used a stopwatch so that I could record the batterys
voltage every minute until I reached ten minutes. After each minute passed, I recorded each
datum point into a chart on my computer.
Data:
Voltage Data for the 0.96 M Solution of NaCl
Time Interval Voltage Reading
00:08:00 Volts
00:09:00 Volts
00:10:00 Volts
*Times are relative approximations
Note on this trial: this trial failed since I dropped the penny which separated the coins from each
other. Interestingly, the voltage increased after I dropped it, but since the conditions were
changed under which I was recording data, I decided that this trial was invalid, and that I would
replicate this trial again
00:04:00 Volts
00:05:00 Volts
00:06:00 Volts
00:07:00 Volts
00:08:00 Volts
00:09:00 Volts
00:10:00 Volts
*Times are relative approximations
Note: On this trial, the stack of pennies did fall and separate again, I am revising the method for
how data are going to be collected: the stack of pennies will be held.
00:04:00 0.651Volts
Ho: =0 p = 2.4531x107 0
Ha: >0 d.f. = 9
t = 12.6502 Test: 0 0.01
Conclusion: Reject Ho: at the significance level of 0.01, there is sufficient evidence to
support the claim that a positive linear correlation exists between voltage and the amount of time
elapsed while using a 0.96 molar solution of NaCl.
Additional Observations about the residual plot: Unlike the other two graphs, however, this
residual plot seems to have a greater degree of randomness to the distribution of its residual
values which suggests that this linear regression is a better suited function to represent the
correlation and regression between a batterys voltage and the time elapsed than the other linear
regressions. Although this linear regression seems better suited to represent this correlation than
the other graphs, and that the hypothesis tests, scatterplot, and the regression line of this data set
seem to illustrate that the data adhere to a linear regression, the minute inverted U shape of the
distribution of the residual values on this residual plot suggests that a linear regression may not
the best type of function to represent the correlation between the voltage and amount of time
elapsed. This is understandable because the batterys voltage cannot increase indefinitely without
the addition of more electrons from external sources. Given the fact that the batterys voltage will
not increase indefinitely, it seems more feasible that a logarithmic function may better represent
the correlation and the regression between the batterys voltage and the amount of time elapsed
because eventually the function will approach an asymptote which will mark the boundary and
the extent to the growth of the batterys voltage. In order to substantiate this claim, however,
more data needs to be taken to illustrate that the distribution of the points on the scatterplot do
adhere to a logarithmic function.
Conclusion: Reject Ho: at the significance level of 0.01, there is sufficient evidence to
support the claim that a positive linear correlation exists between voltage and the amount of time
elapsed while using a 2.032 molar solution of NaCl.
Additional Observations about the residual plot: Although the hypothesis tests, scatterplot, and
the regression line of this data set seem to illustrate that the data adhere to a linear regression, the
slight inverted U shape of the distribution of the residual values on this residual plot suggests that
a linear regression may not the best type of function to represent the correlation between the
voltage and amount of time elapsed. This is understandable because the batterys voltage cannot
increase indefinitely without the addition of more electrons from external sources. Given the fact
that the batterys voltage will not increase indefinitely, it seems more feasible that a logarithmic
function may better represent the correlation and the regression between the batterys voltage and
the amount of time elapsed because eventually the function will approach an asymptote which
will mark the boundary and the extent to the growth of the batterys voltage. In order to
substantiate this claim, however, more data needs to be taken to illustrate that the distribution of
the points on the scatterplot do adhere to a logarithmic function.
Conclusion: Reject Ho: at the significance level of 0.01, there is sufficient evidence to
support the claim that a positive linear correlation exists between voltage and the amount of time
elapsed while using a 2.9945 molar solution of NaCl.
Additional Observations about the residual plot: Although the hypothesis tests, scatterplot, and
the regression line of this data set seem to illustrate that the data adhere to a linear regression, the
distinct inverted U shape of the distribution of the residual values on this residual plot suggests
that a linear regression may not the best type of function to represent the correlation between the
voltage and amount of time elapsed. This is understandable because the batterys voltage cannot
increase indefinitely without the addition of more electrons from external sources. Given the fact
that the batterys voltage will not increase indefinitely, it seems more feasible that a logarithmic
function may better represent the correlation and the regression between the batterys voltage and
the amount of time elapsed because eventually the function will approach an asymptote which
will mark the boundary and the extent to the growth of the batterys voltage. In order to
substantiate this claim, however, more data needs to be taken to illustrate that the distribution of
the points on the scatterplot do adhere to a logarithmic function.
Equations:
Coefficients of Determination:
0.96 M: r2 = 0.947
2.032 M: r2 = 0.971
2.9945 M: r2 = 0.975
Correlation Coefficients:
0.96 M: r = 0.973
2.032 M: r = 0.985
2.9945 M: r = 0.988
ANOVA Test:
= 0.10 F = 1.1324
Ho: 1 = 2 = 3 d. f. = 2
Ha: 1 2 3 p = 0.33564
Test: 0.33564 > 0.10
Conclusion: Fail to reject Ho: at the significance level of 0.10, there does not appear to be a
difference between the mean voltages of the three samples of data.
Analysis and observations of the box and whisker plots and confidence intervals: Although the
ANOVA test disproved the claim that there was a difference between the mean voltages of the
three data sets, the box and whisker plots and the confidence intervals illustrate some disparities
between the data sets. For example, both the box and whisker plots and the confidence intervals
representing the voltages of the battery which used a 0.96 M solution of NaCl have a larger range
of values in comparison to the other two box and whisker plots and confidence intervals.
Additionally, this data set has a larger mean voltage compared to the other two data sets.
Although there are not any statistically significant differences between the mean voltages
between the three groups, it is evident that there are some noticeable differences between the
data sets. These differences are attributable to the different molarities of NaCl used in each
solution to saturate the substrates of each battery which affected the rate at which each batterys
voltage increased. Furthermore, in comparison to the three equations derived from the linear
regressions of each scatter plot, the slope of the 0.96 M linear regression is slightly larger than
that of the other two regressions, and this verifies that there is a difference between the rate at
which each batterys voltage increases at. Therefore, it is evident that batterys whose substrate
has a smaller molarity of NaCl will have a faster and more noticeable change in its batterys
voltage, whereas batteries who have a substrate with a larger molarity of NaCl will have a
slower, more gradual change in voltage as more time elapses.
Observations:
When my group and I constructed a battery out of pennies and a substrate saturated with an NaCl
solution in January, we noticed that our batterys voltage increased over time. Surprisingly, we also found
a similar pattern when we compared our groups voltage to another group whose members used a nearly
identical method of constructing their battery and a solution of NaCl as their electrolyte solution to
saturate their substrate: the voltage of batteries whose substrates were saturated with strong electrolytes
increased over time. Conversely, the voltages of batteries whose substrates were saturated with a weak
electrolyte decreased over time. Although this occurrence seemed to be an unusual phenomenon, when I
conducted my own experiment to replicate my groups former results, I observed that my batterys
voltage actually increased over time. As I had conjectured before I began my experiment, I noticed that
batteries whose substrates were saturated with a larger molar solution of NaCl experienced a slower, more
gradual voltage increase in comparison to batteries whose substrates were saturated with a smaller molar
solution of NaCl.
Voltage Data
Time Interval Voltage Reading (Six Pennies)
Second Group: The second group which we collected information from followed a similar, but not
identical method to construct their battery. Although this group constructed their battery by using paper
towels for their substrate, they used lemon juice which contains citric acid, a weak electrolyte, instead of
a highly conductive solution of NaCl. In lemons, citric acid [comprises] as much as 8% of the dry fruit
weight (Kristina et. al). This groups findings do not corroborate our findings because their voltage did
not increase after a duration of ten minutes.
Voltage Data
Time Interval Voltage Reading (Ten Pennies)
Analysis:
This battery functions because of the chemical properties of zinc and copper. Since more energy
is required to remove two electrons from copper than is required from zinc and less energy for the vice
versa, the redox reaction between zinc and copper, in which copper takes electrons from zinc, occurs
spontaneously. According to the Activity Series of Metals in Aqueous Solutions, zinc is more reactive and
it can oxidize much easier than copper. In this redox reaction, zinc is oxidized because two of its electrons
are taken from it and copper is reduced because it gains two electrons (Norris).
During our trials to try and illuminate different LEDs with our own battery in January, our
batterys voltage surprisingly increased over time. This is interesting because when we compared our
groups data to another groups data which used lemon juice as their electrolyte solution, their batterys
voltage decreased over time. Although this change in voltage was not very drastic, their voltage did drop
approximately 0.41 Volts, and this change cannot be negated. The differences between our data are most
likely attributable to the fact that the compound CHO itself is not a very strong acid and is therefore a
weak electrolyte. Unlike CHO, NaCl is a very strong electrolyte.
Weak acids do not completely ionize because they require energy in order to fully dissociate and
produce more H3O+ ions. Additionally, weak acids usually have multiple ionization levels which require
more energy to initiate an ionization. Unlike weak acids, salts such as NaCl, the chemical solution our
group used in our experiment, will almost entirely dissociate into into Na + cations and Cl anions if the
solution is not already completely saturated or supersaturated with NaCl. As a result, a solution of NaCl
would be more conductive than a solution of citric acid. However, in order to verify this, we would need
to account for the amount of moles and volumes (in liters) of each substance so that we could calculate a
molarity for each substance. In doing this, we would be able to solve for the amount of moles of electrons
which citric acid and sodium chloride yield when they dissociate into different ions. From this, we would
then be able to compare which solution was more conductive based upon the amount of moles of ions
produced in dissociation.
Throughout my prior experiment, I discovered that adding pennies to our battery increased the
electric potential of our battery. This makes sense because the equation , which
V=(KeQ)/r
describes electric potential as being the quotient of the charge strength multiplied by Coulombs constant
and then divided by the distance between charges, supports that the voltage of any battery will increase as
a result of adding more charges to a circuit provided that the distance between these charges remains
constant. Such was the case with my own battery: since I added more pennies to the battery until we had a
total of six pennies, we increased the total number of electrons in the system and we increased the total
amount of electrical charges the battery had overall. Thus, we increased the voltage. However, if this were
entirely true, then why did my battery not display an accurate reading of the voltage during the first,
second, third, or even fourth reading? Why was the batterys voltage rising? Evidently, there is no clear
answer as to why the voltage rose so much, but it is definitely related to its changing current and its
changing electrical resistance. For which reason, I believe that the change in the batterys voltage
occurred as a direct result of the increasing accessibility of the electrons in my battery which was
facilitated by the drying of the dampened substrate I used; the increasing accessibility of the electrons in
my battery is arguably a byproduct of an improved and increasing current which suggests that electrical
resistance decreased.
Coulombs Law alone does not lend enough information to completely rationalize why my
voltage increased over time. To fully understand why its voltage increased, I had to also relate this change
in voltage to Ohms Law. Ohms Law states that . By definition, resistance describes the
I=Vcurrent
extent to which any body or device resists an electrical /R movement through the material which
causes energy dissipation. Even though I knew for a fact that the batterys voltages increased as more time
elapsed, I had to assume that its electrical current increased because the resistance decreased. I made this
assumption because as the substrate began to dry, more and more elections became part of the central
circuit. More electrons became involved in the central circuit for a few reasons:
1. As the the water evaporated from the small surface area of the paper
towels that protruded from between each penny, the ionic bonds between Na + and Cl
reformed and there was less and less electrical attraction between circulating electrons
and the positive Na+ cations which remained unbonded to Cl.
a. In each of the three solutions, there were disparities
between the rates at which the voltages increased due to the amount of moles of
NaCl and Na+ and Cl ions that were formed as the molecule dissolved in the
solution. In using solutions that had a greater saturation and molarity of NaCl,
there was more attraction, hence resistance in the overall battery, between the
electrons circulating through the battery; as a result, the voltage increased at a
slower, more gradual rate. Conversely, in using solutions that had a smaller
saturation and molarity of NaCl, there was less attraction between the electrons
circulating through the battery; hence, there was less resistance in the battery.
The following equations illustrate theses disparities between the different
solutions used to saturate the substrate of each battery:
i. 0.201 mol NaCl> 0.201 mol Na+ (aq) +

0.201 mol Cl (aq)
ii. 0.4063 mol NaCl> 0.4063 mol Na+ (aq)

+ 0.4603 mol Cl (aq)
iii. 0.5989 mol NaCl> 0.5989 mol Na+ (aq)

+ 0.5989 mol Cl (aq)
2. Although waters dipoles could have possibly attracted and detoured
some of the electrons from the central circuit, when more of the water evaporated from
the paper towel, the possibility of this attraction decreased. The attraction between
electrons and water is attributable to the fact that water has partially positively and
negatively charged regions located on opposite sides of the molecule due to the unequal
distribution of electrons within the molecule itself.
3. Since the water molecules and the sodium cations both detoured some of
each batterys electrons from the central current, it is arguable that these two molecules
were the primary cause of resistance within the battery. As these molecules became less
prominent in the protruding ends of the paper towel substrate, the resistance within the
battery decreased. Consequently, the current increased.
Referring back to Ohms Law, it is evident that I 1 / R. Given this proportion, the variable R is
the most important variable in deducing whether or not the electrical current increased. Therefore, as the
voltage increased, and the current increased, the batterys electrical resistance decreased.
For these reasons the voltage increased: the resistance decreased due to an increased electron
availability which occurred due to less electrical attraction between sodium cations and the partially
positive charges in water outside of the central circuit, and the current increased proportionately.
Conclusion:
When I finished this lab, I found that my groups voltages increased by twice as much from the
initial voltage reading. This occurred because my batterys resistance decreased and its current increased
which increased the voltage. In order to extend and improve this lab even farther, I could expand the
sample size and duration of time during which I recorded data to verify whether or not a linear or a
logarithmic function would better represent the correlation between the voltage and the amount of time
elapsed. Overall, this lab helped me to understand batteries because I realize that batteries require some
form of electrolyte in order to facilitate the circulation or movement of electrons. I now understand that
without this electrolyte, batteries would not be able to function properly.
Works Cited
Copper in Galvanic Cell. Chemistry Stack Exchange, 22 Nov. 2012. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
Penniston, Kristina et al. Quantitative Assessment of Citric Acid in Lemon Juice, Lime Juice,