The Penny Battery




About: Working my dream job in the Telecom industry, so chances are, i'll never have time to respond to comments or messages, nothing personal.

This is a derivation of brenn10's battery based on a comment by westfw, mainly because I wanted to see if it would work.

Either watch a lame video, of continue reading.


Step 1: Wacha Wacha Gonna Need?

post 1982 pennies
wire & solder
soldering iron
lemon juice

Step 2: Prep the Pennies

Sand one face off each penny to expose the zinc core. Using 220 grit and holding in my fingers, it took about 45 secs of sanding to do each penny.

Alternately I tried both belt sander and disk sander, excellent ways to burn your fingers, but not appreciably faster.

Step 3: The Electrolyte

Cut up some cardboard from the back of a notebook and soak it in lemon juice, then blot dry.

Step 4: Assemble

pick out two pennies and solder leads to one face on each of them, one with the lead on the copper face, the other with it on the zinc face.

Now start stacking coins and cardboard, with all the coins copper side up, stack them with a peice of soaked cardboard between, secure with a rubber band and attach the leads to a low current electrical device, the copper side is the positive. And Tool said "Let there be light".



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    98 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Hi, I'm wondering if anyone knows, if we can make batteries out of coins, why dont we do we even have normal batteries?

    could one make a battery that would power a lamp, lets say, out of pennies? How long would it last?

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Man, you guys are blowing this whole defacing money thing way out of proportion! Just because something is illegal doesn't mean you are going to go to jail for it. It's still illegal in some states to marry your 1st cousin but I have never heard of anyone being thrown in jail for it.

    The only way the government would spend the effort of throwing someone in jail for defacing currency is if they bleached a $5.00 bill and reprinted a $20 or $100 on the paper. That's how professional counterfitters do it. Because the $5s have a metal strip inside it and those pens that detect fake currency only work if the paper is fake, not the ink which is made of cloth instead of wood pulp.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I am not a lawyer, but here's what I've found. First, there is a federal law banning modifications to currency for fraudulent purposes. Making batteries isn't fraud. Second, the US Mint in 2007 (after an earlier interim rule) has put in place a specific rule against exporting, melting or otherwise "treating" pennies and nickels, as a response to the rising price of metals. This rule, however, contains an explicit exception: "The prohibition contained in § 82.1 against the treatment of 5-cent coins and one-cent coins shall not apply to the treatment of these coins for educational, amusement, novelty, jewelry, and similar purposes as long as the volumes treated and the nature of the treatment makes it clear that such treatment is not intended as a means by which to profit solely from the value of the metal content of the coins." The full text of the rule is here.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I suppose explains how amusement parks get away with those machines that flaten pennies and stamp the name of their park on them for souvenirs.

    I have heard that it is illegal to sell pre 1982 pennies for scrap metal since they are pure copper (or close to it) which is worth more than their face value. I'm sure metal recyclers won't accept them anyway. You would have to build a machine to grind them up into shavings in order to get away with it.

    Great instructable none the less!

    You're forgetting, the modern penny with the cost of copper and nickle as it is, is more than the face value of a penny itself. 1 penny= 1.4 cents in material and .02 cents in labor.

    So by sanding it down, and then using them as a battery, he's already increased their value seven fold :) Federal Reserve is gonna hunt him down and murder him in his bed for this one...


    Everything is illegal, if the gov't has nothing better than prosecute me over 11 cents, well, I'll pay the hundred dollar fine, after they spend thousands convicting me. Also, since I only removed one face of the coin you could argue that is is still identifiable and there for does not fall under the defacement statute.

    Sure but the thousands they spend convicting you is your tax money. Your 11 cent battery just cost... lets see 11 cents+$100 fine+thousands of your tax money= a whole lot of $$$$$ I guess by now your trying to figure out the point behind it and here it is. Give it to me!!

    Indeed, I smash pennyswhenever need to, I don't care if the govermentdosen't like it, IF they don't like it they can gulp it down!! I have powered models of citys in the future with JUST pennys And also as a child you can clam that you don't know law(and it will not be a lie) Or els theyed let children run rules over america.