Money Equals Power




Introduction: Money Equals Power

Have you ever thought of power being in your pocket or in your change jar. There is, but it is not quite free energy. It costs about a quarter of a dollar for 6 volts! Excited yet? If so let's get started...

The items you will need are:

White Vinegar


Zinc Washers


Tin Foil

Volt Meter

Scotch Brite

Electrical Tape (optional)

Step 1: Preparing the Pennies

Scotch Brite both sides of your pennies.

Check the date! The best pennies to use are from 1982 and back, because they have a higher copper concentration. If you use newer pennies you will get less voltage. With the older pennies you get approximately 0.9 volts, and with the pennies newer than 1982, you get approximately 0.6 volts.

Step 2: Building the Battery

  • Lay out a small piece of tin foil on a flat surface
  • Place a zinc washer on the tin foil
  • Cut up pieces of cardboard to approximately the size of a penny
  • Soak the cardboard pieces in vinegar for about 3 minutes, this allows enough time for the cardboard to saturate
  • Remove the cardboard from the vinegar and blot dry the pieces (if pieces the pieces are too wet it can short your battery out)
  • Place one penny-sized piece of cardboard on top of the zinc washer
  • Next, put the penny on top of the cardboard

You have now created your first energy cell. If you would like to create more energy, just repeat these steps for multiple cells.

Step 3: Watch the Power Grow

As you stack your cells, you can measure the volts being created by using the volt meter. Pennies (copper) are positive and washers (zinc) are negative. Each time you add a cell you should gain around 0.9 volts.

You have now created your own pocket energy!

Step 4: Pack Your Power

There are many ways package your cells. In the video you will see we used electrical tape as our packaging. The purpose of the packaging is to firmly hold the cell(s) together. Make sure to leave a contact surface on the positive and negative ends of your 'battery'. This allows you to drive small current devices like LED's and calculators, etc. Whatever fits your needs.


Step 5: How It Works

The penny battery is a voltaic pile which uses various coinage as the metal disks of a traditional voltaic pile. The coins are stacked with pieces of electrolyte soaked paper in between.

The paper we used in this experiment was cardboard.

Each cell in a penny battery can produce up to 0.8 volts, and many can be stacked together to produce higher voltages.

In our project we achieved an impressive 0.9 volts per cell, higher than other reported results.

Since the battery is a wet cell, the effectiveness will be reduced when the electrolyte evaporates.

This also allows for 're-chargeable' batteries, as you can re-soak the cardboard in the vinegar and redo your cells to extend battery life.


MAKE ENERGY: A US-Mexico Innovation Challenge

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MAKE ENERGY: A US-Mexico Innovation Challenge

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    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very cool! Thank you for sharing this great project!