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A Silver-Cleaning Battery

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Areas of Science
Time Required
Short (2-5 days)
Adult supervision required.
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

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You can take advantage of electrochemistry and make a battery to clean tarnished silverware without scrubbing. You should learn about how batteries work and study oxidation-reduction reactions so that you can explain how this process works. You'll need a pan large enough to hold the pieces of silverware, and deep enough to cover them in solution while boiling gently. Line the pan with aluminum foil, and place the silverware inside the pan, making sure that each piece touches the foil. Add water to cover the silverware, then add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda for each liter of water in the pan. Heat the pan on the stove until the water boils, then reduce the heat so that it boils gently. The tarnish (silver sulfide) gradually dissolves, producing silver (Ag+) and sulfide (S2−) ions in solution. Electrons are transferred from aluminum atoms (Al) to the silver ions, producing silver atoms (Ag) and aluminum ions (Al3+). The silverware is functioning as the positive pole of the battery, and the aluminum as the negative pole. The silver atoms plate out of solution on the silverware, and the sulfide ions form insoluble sulfides with various positive ions in the solution. What is common to all batteries? How do batteries differ? With help from an adult, design and build a battery and prove that it works by lighting a flashlight bulb or powering a small electric motor.
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General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "A Silver-Cleaning Battery." Science Buddies, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Chem_p029/chemistry/a-silver-cleaning-battery. Accessed 6 June 2023.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, November 20). A Silver-Cleaning Battery. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Chem_p029/chemistry/a-silver-cleaning-battery

Last edit date: 2020-11-20
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