Hacked Gadgets Forum

February 28, 2007

Water Powered Batteries with MIT’s Walter Levin lessons

at 8:05 pm. Filed under Crazy Hacks, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks, Insane Equipment

 

I have never seen this demonstration before. Water running through two small open cans into a larger metal collection container wired together to create 10,000 to 15,000 volts. Is it an accumulation of static electricity? If someone knows what is happening I would love to hear about it!

Via: Zedomax


 

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23 Responses to “Water Powered Batteries with MIT’s Walter Levin lessons”

  1. seesoe Says:

    i have seen this a while back on this one site, so i dug through my favs and i found it

    http://www.rmcybernetics.com/projects/experiments/experiments_kelvins_thunderstorm_electrostatics.htm

    enjoy:)

  2. Alan Parekh Says:

    Thanks Seesoe, that was a great explanation. It says that it works better with purified water but I wonder if the rain water from the roof would work? It would be interesting to generate some electricity every time it rained…

  3. Steve Says:

    This was demonstrated in on of my introductory physics classes a few years ago. As seesoe mentioned, this is Kelvin’s Thunderstorm. Here’s another link explaining the phenomenon: http://www.newphys.se/fnysik/3_1/kelvin/index.html

  4. max Says:

    oh cool, we will have to post that on zedomax. 🙂

  5. Alan Parekh Says:

    Thanks Steve

  6. Paul Says:

    So how much power is acheived from this? He said that it was a ‘great battery’.

  7. rizwan Says:

    I think this work by running water through the cans which causes static charge which then is transfered to the wires into electrical energy

  8. Sandman Says:

    My brother once did something like this for a school science project but instead of using the paint cans A & B he used small copper circles and it was supposed to build a charge on the wires enough that a drop of water would float in the air because of the static charge. He could never get it to work, but nether less a interesting experiment.

  9. aefaradien Says:

    i have to try this one – it looks like a good weekend project. i already have 4 cans out the recycling bin and a plastic jar to make the takn at the top :). but i don’t know how well it will work with out pure water. and i like the drain-pipe idea. anyone know how to turn 10,000+ v change into a useful supply?

  10. Flyinrhino1 Says:

    Zedomax, I watched the video you have linked and it was very interesting, I am guessing here that the static charge is actually provided through the the transfer of a eletrostatic charge (electron transfer) between the water running throught the barrel and plastic tubing. This would allow the water to transfer it’s charge from the friction with the tubing – through the air (made easier with a humid atmosphere”water”) to the smaller (insulated) cans allowing the charge to build up till it can bridge the gap between the two metal rods.
    -Ryan
    also look here for more info –
    HowStuff Works – Static electricity
    http://science.howstuffworks.com/vdg1.htm

  11. Alan Parekh Says:

    Thanks for the info Flyinrhino1, you have a cool site there! 🙂

  12. Alex Says:

    This is called a Kelvin Water dropper. It is static electricity. The biggest problem that most people encounter is not insulating it enough. If it has even a slight connection to a ground or big piece of metal it will not work. Someone said they used a coil of wire for the top rings, this will not work, well at least not very well, the bigger the surface area on the inside of the rings the more static charge will be built up. When I built mine it was one too large blocks of wax, just to keep it insulated.

  13. draconis Says:

    This is based on a quite old Scientific American article…over 20 years ago if I remember right.

  14. AC (howbigis1gb) Says:

    You should also check this:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=4TgmOUWkkIk
    its another of Walter Lewin’s

  15. hax2 Says:

    i am not quite shure but i think that somehow the cans are getting charged with static electricity. the water is spreading gradually because the cans are becoming more charged, and water is a conductor therefore being attracted to a charge. once the cans are charged enough, the spark is created by the electron transfer between the two poles, making them neutral once again. and the process just repeats itself over.

  16. Sean Says:

    He sounds like a cross between Einstien (pretend, okay?) and Bartok (Anastasia.) It’s very cool, but I cant help but giggle.

  17. Jeff Buscher Says:

    A very thorough explanation:
    http://amasci.com/emotor/kelvin.html

  18. Think or Thwim » 10,000 Volt Arcs Created by Falling Water Droplets Says:

    […] :: Hacked Gadgets classes, kelvin thunderstorm, kelvin water dropper, mit, walter lewin […]

  19. Hexypoo Says:

    Thanks for the link Jeff. Thats pretty nifty. Is there a way to harness that energy or is it basicly pretty useless?

  20. Girrrrrrrr Says:

    ya just plug it into a rechargeable battery…or it can be a huge tazer!!!

  21. Edward Says:

    What hapend if you put several other cans down can A and can B and wire them to the C and D cans in the correct way, that will produce more power?

  22. bruce Says:

    The paint can above each bucket is charged oppositely to the charge in that bucket.

    The paint cans serve to attract charges of the same polarity to the bucket under it and the opposite polarity of the other bucket, thus accumulating charge in the bucket under it, and attracting opposite charge to the other bucket, which builds the charge in both buckets.

    This accounts for the spreading of the stream as the charge gets stronger because the charge in the water tends to make the droplets repulse each other and spread out.

    What I cannot say for sure is the genesis of the beginning charge that starts the whole thing, I expect it is random, and that once a charge begins one bucket stays positive and one negative because the discharge is not total.

    This is a great experimental way to segregate the charges in water. Water in a steady stream is a conductor but it breaks the conduction by forming into droplets and the tendency for the gravitational force to overcome the static electric force as it falls into the buckets, finally enough charge to repulse from its own bucket and attract to the other bucket.

  23. Huzaifa Says:

    I have to ask one thing what if I use painted can(upper ones), which are been painted from outside. Do still charge is produced and I see a spark??? please reply as fast as u can

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