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Low-tech DIY storage battery

Ty Morrison


Joined: Sep 11, 2012
Posts: 107
Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
    
    8
Don't see a clear post on this:

Seems to me that you could fill your crawl space with lots of old 5 gallon paint buckets, galvanized roofing tin, copper pennies for anodes and black-water (urine/water) diverted from the sewer/septic could be used to make a low-tech storage battery for the DIY solar collector.

Looks like battery problems are:
1. weight/size - crawl space solves that
2. chemicals - black water could be free-flowing, anodes are recycled waste (ok, pennies have value, but it's the cheapest, and you could use other copper wire and such)
3. cells make volts, so you could have lots of buckets
4. maintenance - you can monitor and get to the pieces pretty easy: it's in your crawl space

Sure, there are a lot of refinement issues, but wouldn't a low tech battery be do-able?

Maybe they are in the walls of the WOFATI structure and act as part of a thermal mass trombe wall?

What's wrong with this idea?
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1404
Location: Chihuahua Desert
the problem is that you don't have much power there.

sure, you can make some volts with some zinc and copper or whatever, but how many amps are you making? Most homes run at 10kWh a day or more. If you go 12 volts, that's a lot of amp-hours. Even efficient, off-grid homes need 1-2kWh a day. That's at least 100 amp-hours needed. You won't get that from pennies.

In batteries, amps related to the thickness/surface area of the electrodes. Most commercial ones use powered electrodes to increase surface area.


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Ty Morrison


Joined: Sep 11, 2012
Posts: 107
Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
    
    8
Even if you used copper screen 'sacks' to hold pounds of pennies? Seems like you could have a lot of surface area.

What is a powered anode?

Would capacitors store the amps?
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1404
Location: Chihuahua Desert
well, for lead acid batteries, they have baskets of powered lead. Baskets of pennies might work, but you know that pennies aren't copper, right?
Ty Morrison


Joined: Sep 11, 2012
Posts: 107
Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
    
    8
Yeah, they are copper plated zinc, aren't they?

From what I have read on Edison batteries and other 'simple' batteries, I think they would still work until the copper was dissolved to the galvanized steel roofing. I thought the key with Edison batteries was the transfer of iron oxide (rusty iron as it was thought) and nickel didn't corrode the anodes over time because the recharge reversed transfer extending the battery life by decades (don't really care so much as the anodes are 'recycled trash' now).

The simple experiments seemed to use the dissimilar metal notion, so I am thinking like tons of aluminum cans and tons of old steel with thousands of gallons of uric acid and an endless supply of paint buckets and salvaged wire to connect it all up... quantity over quality. Since it isn't in a car, or a hand held device we can take weight and size out of the parameters, and we can take quantity of recycled and diverted wasted to compensate for cost/efficacy of materials...I don't seem to grasp how the 'amps' are produced...volts seems to be lots of cells.

Are amps the size and surface (weight too?) of the anodes in the cell?

BTW, thanks for the dialog.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1404
Location: Chihuahua Desert
amps are related to the surface area. I am not sure the amp density of copper/zinc

there are people that have made edison cells, it is not exactly simple, but it is doable.
Morgan Morrigan


Joined: Oct 16, 2011
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
looks like it is going to be simpler to use graphene sheets and regular water. They just figured out how to make graphene sheet large and cheaply, continuous roll.

would be a great retasking of an old printing press, and could use the drum to tumble your carbon into graphite to make the graphene with.....

http://blog.tomwphillips.co.uk/2012/09/forget-the-scotch-tape-how-to-make-loads-of-graphene/


Graphene water batteries can also be charged directly from thermal heat.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/07/graphite-and-water-could-be-as-good-as.html

this is for different electrolyte, but graphene will self arrange into optimal plate distances automatically. the prob was always to make large sheets.
the PE on the roll might make for a good connector, or it could also be made with a hygroscopic exterior, so that it will detach when submerged.

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja207547b






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Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1404
Location: Chihuahua Desert
any DIY plans?
Rose Pinder


Joined: Nov 18, 2011
Posts: 124
Abe Connally wrote: If you go 12 volts, that's a lot of amp-hours. Even efficient, off-grid homes need 1-2kWh a day. That's at least 100 amp-hours needed.


That's true if one wants to maintain an affluent lifestyle. It's possible to live successfully with much less power than that.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1404
Location: Chihuahua Desert
That's true if one wants to maintain an affluent lifestyle. It's possible to live successfully with much less power than that.

yeah, we all know, it is possible to live without any power. 1-2kWh a day is not affluent. That's running a computer to get online, maybe an efficient fridge, lights, and that's about it.
Ty Morrison


Joined: Sep 11, 2012
Posts: 107
Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
    
    8
Yes, we all agree that we can use less electricity if we set our mind to it.

Graphene sheets sounds interesting, but still not in the realm of DIY with recycled stuff from the yard, trash and sewer.

Way back in architecture school, we used to make 'carbon' paper with the graphite from our 'lead' pointers, some 1000 h tracing paper and a little lighter fluid as a solvent/bonding agent on a cotton swab to smear the graphite around on the paper and make it'stick'. Then we traced over drawings with the graphite side down on the sheet in-between the drawing and a blank sheet of anything at the bottom...that way the drawing was traced and transferred.

What's my point?

Is that a low-tech graphene sheet?

If it is, then it wouldn't be too hard to space those in water and then do something like a battery.

Anyone tried a non-physics (rocket science) approach to graphene sheets yet?

Overall,

Still not seeing a DIY plan for a storage battery.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1404
Location: Chihuahua Desert
you might look at Microbial Fuel Cells. While not batteries, per se, they do produce electricity, are easy to build, and run off sewage. It might be something worth doing.
Ty Morrison


Joined: Sep 11, 2012
Posts: 107
Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
    
    8
So, if I made my own 'test' battery...what would be acceptable test data and what kind of instruments would be needed besides my hooking it up and seeing if it worked in my garage?

Microbial fuel cells: anyone tried a DIY of these?
Ty Morrison


Joined: Sep 11, 2012
Posts: 107
Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
    
    8
The Microbial Fuel cell sure is a start to my idea of low-tech.

Thanks for the lead, this replaces the solar panel piece.

but the system still needs a low-tech storage battery too.

All of this points to super-capacitors...how about a low-tech super capacitor?

What I read implies size is a problem...what if you take that out of the mix? My crawl space is big, so is my back yard.

Any DIY super-capacitors? The one with the DVD is still a 'lab' experiment, as it requires graphite oxide...oh, I know what that is!

Again, thanks for the dialog...I have already 'discovered' microbial fuel cells and super-caps on my way to the DIY storage battery quest.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1404
Location: Chihuahua Desert
I don't know much about super capacitors, but regular capacitors are easy to make and VERY dangerous to handle.

Basically, it is 2 metal plates separated by an insulator. I read somewhere where some guys used 2 pieces of sheet metal, and a piece of glass in between. The size was 4 ft by 8ft by about 1 inch thick. That thing could hold enough power to easily kill an elephant. But, I don't know how long it would have held the charge. Apparently, when shorted it was very exiting...

I'd look into Nickel-Iron batteries. I have seen them done by DIYers. The process is a bit complicated, but it is definitely doable.
Rose Pinder


Joined: Nov 18, 2011
Posts: 124
Abe Connally wrote:
That's true if one wants to maintain an affluent lifestyle. It's possible to live successfully with much less power than that.

yeah, we all know, it is possible to live without any power. 1-2kWh a day is not affluent. That's running a computer to get online, maybe an efficient fridge, lights, and that's about it.


I suppose what I was meaning is that even low storage batteries are useful. Especially in a peak oil context. Even more so in global footprint terms. All part of the permaculture scheme of things. We may think that 1-2kWh is low now, but it's all relative.


Morgan Morrigan


Joined: Oct 16, 2011
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
That IS the new DIY way to make graphene !

The original way was scotch tape on pencil lead - and they won the Nobel Prize with it.

all the rest have to do with vapor deposition, HV on plate, sputtering etc.

This is a huge breakthru, just using rollers.

Now if we can run carbon black thru the rollers, or tumble it to make graphite, then use the rollers to make graphene...

graphene will build itself, if you have the time, it happens in metorites, interstellr dust, asteroids, etc.




Geo Schoonmaker


Joined: Nov 04, 2012
Posts: 32
One can recycle "dead" lead acid batteries quite cheaply. By washing out the inside of the battery, neutralizing any remaining acid with lots of baking soda, and replacing the electrolyte with a solution made from alum and distilled water, you can have a dirt cheap storage battery capable of powering lights and possibly more. I spent under $5 reviving a old lawnmower battery I had waiting to be recycled. So far, the testing seems very positive. Check out what I've done so far on this project. I've got some thicker sheet lead ordered to make my own deep cycle batteries using this method. Alum is cheaper and safer than sulphuric acid. The one disadvantage is that you need one extra cell to make these match the voltage of a 12 V lead acid battery.
Combined with a joule thief, one could feasibly light their home with LED lights, a couple old batteries, and a small solar panel to keep it all charged. The cost and safety of this system is making it an attractive alternative for me.
Dave Turpin


Joined: Dec 07, 2012
Posts: 107
Location: Groton, CT
I second reusing "spent" flooded lead acid batteries. In most cases a desulfator can restore a battery enough for a year of use or more.

Problem is automotive batteries are designed for amps, not capacity, so even that isn't ideal.
Morgan Morrigan


Joined: Oct 16, 2011
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
flush out the acid, and use alum

http://greenenergyexperimenter.com/wp/?p=134
Geo Schoonmaker


Joined: Nov 04, 2012
Posts: 32
Here's some more testing on an alum electrolyte conversion that I've been experimenting with.

I was beside myself when that battery turned that engine over and ecstatic that it actually started. This warrants further testing, I'll keep you all posted with the details. Hope it gives you some ideas.
David Williams


Joined: Feb 14, 2013
Posts: 131
wonder if there is a way to use common products like alum to make a battery similar to a VRB http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanadium_redox_battery .... i think would be an ideal way to use less materials and have large storage in stationary "home" settings ... any thoughts ?
Ty Morrison


Joined: Sep 11, 2012
Posts: 107
Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
    
    8
Yes.

I am thinking the proton exchange membrane is uncoated 1000H drafting paper, the electrolytes(maybe they are bac-to-lytes?) are residential blackwater on its way to the sewer and compost tea on its way to plants.

The storage is in five gallon buckets linked with black funny pipe or even garden hoses. If a siphon was used to keep the solutions flowing and people kept going potty and making compost tea, then the power is renewable.

Maybe it can store the excess from the windmill and the solar panel too?

Heck, it could be part of a solar exchange trobe wall on a southerly facing wofati!
Ty Morrison


Joined: Sep 11, 2012
Posts: 107
Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
    
    8
What is the household equivalent of a proton exchange membrane anyway?
Simon Brown


Joined: Jan 30, 2014
Posts: 15
I think the ops general thrust is perfectly doable. A few thoughts..

Sack of nano Iron
Sack of nano nickel
Alkaline electrolyte as in old NiFe cells

Issue I have not solved yet is reducing the internal resistance ? ie a long path for "irons" to tavel between sacks.

Think a 50 gallon barrel would give 10,000 amps at 2v if I remember my fag paper calculations/guestimate


sack = membrane..about which i know little of available polymers available ?

Nife cells last pretty much forever.
Nano = monumental surface area = monumental current

"If you tug on any one thing in nature, you find the whole damn things attached to it"
 
 
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