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Q & A: Magic Batteries?

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Hey Van, Myself and some other peace corps volunteers in Cameroon have noticed that we can partially recharge dead alkaline batteries by setting them on a concrete floor overnight, negative terminal down. Whats going on there?
- Dan Goetz (age 23)
US Peace Corps, Tinto, Cameroon
A:
Hi Dan,
Great to hear from you...we hope to get some books sent your way (thanks to Matthew & crew).

About your batteries, I have never tried what you describe, but I don't doubt that its true. Drained batteries will sometimes "recover" a bit after use if they just sit there and "rest" for a while (I'm sure we could figure out the chemistry involved in that if we tried)...are you sure this is not what you see? In other words, does it matter if you set them upside down on the concrete floor, or could you lay them on the table, put them in the fridge, or let the cat play with them overnight and get the same result?

Sounds like a great excuse to do some experimentation and report back to us!

Cheers, Mats

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: More Magic Batteries in Cameroon

Q:
Ok. It doesn’t work when we lay the batteries side ways. We don’t know if it works with the positive terminal. It never works when I use my wood bookcase. The amount of charge we gain is enough to power a discman for about 6 songs (nice unit of energy) if the battery is left overnight. The effect diminishes the more you do it. also it works less when the floor is dirty.
- Dan Goetz (age 23)
Peace Corps, Tinto, Cameroon
A:
Ok, Dan... Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you, but you sent us a tough one this time. :) Even after long deliberation, we're really not sure what's up with your magical batteries.

It's safe to say that Mats was right when he said that alkaline batteries /will/ recover at least a little bit just by sitting still. But they'll recover the most if placed in an ideal environment. It's possible that you've just discovered the 'ideal environment' for your batteries. Being held vertically as opposed to horizontally may help because of something about the mechanical/chemical structure inside the battery. You can also think of the static charge that builds up as contributing to the 'ideal environment' for the battery to charge itself.

That all said, sorry again for the late reply... Hope to hear from you again soon!

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

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