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Proof of Efficacy

My group designed a chain of lemon batteries to connect to a motor that would power a

small fan. Our fan was made out of cut blinds, toothpicks, and a plastic bottle cap, and our stand

was made out of a metal ring stand and clamp.

The lemon battery is convenient for a project, but far from efficient. Lemon batteries do

not pollute, and are a renewable energy source, but do not make for an efficient source of power.

They can be easily made with household objects and affordable materials, although they do not

create an output that matches their size. We obtained the lemons from lemon trees and other

materials from class.

Below is an image of our first trial. We used 4 whole lemons, and strung together pennies

and nails with wire. We’d found that neither the wire we had used or the pennies had been made

of copper, which we had needed for our reaction. The nails we had used came from a box

marked “galvanized nails” but it is possible that they had been made misplaced and put into the

wrong container, while really being made from zinc. Even if the nail and penny had been made

of the materials needed, they were inserted too far away from each other in the lemon to make a

connection. We also had not used the proper wire needed to connect the lemons to each other, so

even if a reaction had occurred, it would not reach the other lemons, which would take away the
purpose of having multiple lemons. In addition to this, we used alligator clips instead of

attempting to make connections through wire.

Before our second trial, we spent more time researching how lemon batteries worked and

decided it was best to change our materials. We used magnesium ribbon instead of the nails, and

replaced the pennies with bent copper wire. Despite the changes we made, the voltmeter still

read 0. After checking to make sure all the connections were secure, we concluded that the

materials we used were still ineffective.We had read online that magnesium was not as effective

as zinc, but we had used it because we saw another group have success with it. After this trial,

we concluded that it was best that we go back to using zinc.

In our third trial, we used U shaped zinc and bent our copper pieces to imitate the zinc’s

shape. Zinc was our anode, and our cathode was the copper wire. Both could be inserted almost

fully into each lemon, we used alligator clips to connect the exposed parts. We used two lemons,

like in the last trial, and the voltmeter read 1.95 Volts.

We tested our fan with a 1.5 Volt battery, and it was more than enough to power the

motor. We thought that even though we had enough voltage, the lemons acted as resistors, and

we wanted to increase the efficiency of our fan so that it could power the motor. We used the
same materials as before, but cut each lemon in half and added salt. This created a voltage of

4.05 V.

Even though 4.05 Volts was more than enough needed to power the motor, we did not

have enough current going through the circuit to reach the motor. It also had measured 0.9

Amps, so the total power generated was 3.65 Watts. We could not calculate the efficiency of the

lemon battery because we did not have the energy input.

Trial #1 Trial #2 Trial #3 Trial #4

Voltage 0V 0V 1.95 V 4.05 V

Possible Sources - pennies not - magnesium -full lemons -not enough


of Error made of copper ineffective instead of half current
-incorrect nails - magnesium lemons
used and copper close -not enough
- improper enough lemons
connection
between penny
and nail

Modifications -4 lemons - 2 lemons - 2 lemons - 2 lemons, cut


and Materials - (fake) copper - alligator clips - alligator clips in half
used wire - copper wire - U-shaped - alligator wires
-pennies - pieces of copper wire - U-shaped
-galvanized nails magnesium - U-shaped zinc copper wire
ribbon - U-shaped zinc
- iodized salt

The model created a chemical reaction, the zinc and copper wire we had inserted into the

lemon had reacted with the citric acid that already existed in the lemon. Chemicals have potential

energy, and when they react, they create chemical kinetic energy that travelled through the

copper wires in the lemon to reach the other lemons. Acids break up into charged anions and

cations when they are dissolved in water. particles are able to flow within the acid.
The model’s reaction created and transferred electricity that flowed through the alligator

wires. The zinc anode would dissolve into the lemon’s liquid electrolyte, and leave behind two

electrons. The zinc reaches a lower energy state, releasing that electrical energy. The energy

released would power the motor from the negative end. The chemical equation for this is ​Zn →

Zn​2+​ + 2e-. ​From the other end, hydrogen ions from the copper cathode are reduced to form

molecular hydrogen. The gained electrons are transferred through the wire and through the

alligator clips to the next lemon or the motor as the positive end. The chemical equation for this

is ​2H​+​ + 2e- → H​2​. The chemical energy would transfer into electrical energy and then to kinetic

and thermal energy. The molecular blueprints for our model can be found below.