Operation Let There Be Light – Charcoal Batteries For The Poor! – 28 December 2012

Uploaded on 6 September 2012 by Tina Cornely

Please share this video with anyone involved in humanitarian projects! http://Www.bridging-humanity.org teaches the poor how to create useful things made from trash so they can become self-sufficient. In this video we created batteries made out of different types of natural products. If you want to test this on your own, you will need rainwater, clean ashe (no kerosene), low fired charcoal or pencil lead, paper towels and aluminum foil. We invite you to help us in this effort by sharing some of your battery making tips. If any fellow tinkerers have old OHM meters, soldering devices, alligator clips, please send them to us for an upcoming trip abroad (check http://www.bridging-humanity.org for contact details). Devices retrofitted with solar cells would be a god sent! Help comes in many forms even a simple click by sharing this video could help change the life of someone in need. Our goal for this project was to create a battery strong enough to power an LED flashlight made out of trash. Some LEDs require as little as 1.5 volts to operate. Unfortunately the stores we visited did not have any so we used a 2.1 LED which worked sporadically with our 2.5 fluctuating battery made out of lye (ash) and a piece of charcoal. We tested a myriad of combinations, from potassium rich papaya stems and seeds, pickles, salty water left over from boiled peanuts, to potassium rich refried beans. Interestingly enough for over a 3 week period they all generated a steady .5 volts and upwards. Unfortunately the longevity of using food products is not that great because it will eventually degenerate over time (even with the use of natural preservatives). We wrapped a dense piece of homemade charcoal in an old wipe dipped in homemade lye. It measured 1.65 volts. We tested papaya stalks wrapped in homemade felt (dryer lent) soaked in apple cider vinegar with salt (.45 volts). We tested a papaya stalk wrapped in a dried out wipe dipped in left over water from boiled peanuts (.45 volts). We tested a piece of steel wool wrapped in a paper towel soaked in apple cider vinegar, salt and rainwater (.65 volts). All of these variations were wrapped in aluminum foil (cathode). In an old film canister we added rainwater and apple cider vinegar and inserted through the top a zinc screw and on the other side a coiled copper wire. In the other film canister we added rainwater and a tad of Clorox and the same anode and cathode combination. They held up well at .65 but the mixture slowly evaporated. We placed a penny older than 1982 (stronger copper content) and a zinc washer in refried beans and got .74. We wrapped a pickle in felt soaked in rainwater and apple cider vinegar and got .71. The good of all of this is that a person can make a battery out of a variety of common materials. The other interesting experiment we did is create unusual canisters to house the battery. For instance we created a battery out of a straw filled with lye. One end had a zinc screw wrapped in a homemade aluminum foil wire and the other end with a brass screw wrapped in copper wire. We used bubble gum to prevent leakage around the screws. You can also use an empty incense wrapper, an empty plastic cool aid ice cycle pouch or plastic empty water pouches used a lot in Haiti and Africa. All you do is fill the plastic bag with ash and add aluminum or zinc wire (wrapped in felt or paper towel) to the mixture. Then you add a coiled copper wire wrapped around a piece of thin homemade charcoal. It is important to wrap the aluminum wire so it does not touch the copper wire. You will need to seal and close the top with a twisty or string so the mixture does not leak out. What I liked about using a flexible device is that you can essentially easily bundle it up or wrap the contents inside a soda flashlight can. Another thing I did is create natural batteries that were the same size as a double AA battery, etc. so you can use the same type of cases (makes sense). For instance if a person found a broken flashlight in the trash they could retrofit the flashlight with an LED bulb and use homemade batteries instead of store bought batteries. From all of the tests we did, we concluded that lye mixed with rainwater and oxygen reduced charcoal was the strongest and longest lasting battery source. Water will need to be added periodically. FYI one of the things that Bridging Humanity does is teach the poor how to grow bamboo so they can make fishing poles, furniture, charcoal, homemade batteries and also bamboo shoots to eat. Bamboo is prolific and grows very fast and will deter deforestation. Low oxygen charcoal is made by placing hard wood (oak, bamboo, coconut shell, etc.) in a tin can sealed with a lid that has a hole punched through it. Then you place it in the middle of a fire (lid facing down) and stack wood along the side in a tee pee style. I used broken tree limbs from my yard. This is it for the moment but please stay tuned for more videos from Bridging Humanity!

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