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Volta battery revisited

Volta battery and the basis of electricity

This material was submitted for publication at the Royal Society of Chemistry - Chemical Communications.
Read part of the discussion, in original at the end of the article ...why such article cannot be published in official science...

by Sorin Coșofreț,

 Some experiments able to bring a new interpretation for Volta battery are performed. To be more precise, the experiments put in light the unusual effect of kitchen salt added to the electrolyte (water) and the huge impact of this action over the magnitude of generated electric current. The effect cannot be interpreted in the frame of actual science and therefore a new frame for electricity has to be proposed. 
The Volta battery represents the beginning of electricity as science, but there are no scientific texts analysing in detail how this battery effectively works. Historically speaking, Alessandro Volta invented the voltaic pile and discovered the first practical method of generating electricity. The battery was constructed of alternating discs of zinc and copper with pieces of cardboard soaked in brine between the metals; as consequence, an electrical current was measured between electrodes. Alessandro Volta's voltaic pile was the first "wet battery" that produced a reliable, steady current of electricity. Later, he tested different couples of metals and began a classification of the couples according to their efficiency.


 The experiments focus on the importance of ,,kitchen salt in the solution" and how this contributes to the current amplification.

 Experimental part

A strip of Zn and a strip of Cu are inserted into deionized water and the voltage and current between these electrodes are measured. In our experiments the surface of Cu and Zn strips is about 3 cm2 and when about 1 cm2 of each of them is immersed into water the current in circuit is about 12 microA; a potential difference of 0,72V can be detected by a voltmeter. Both electrodes are fixed with some mechanical devices in order to have a constant surface of contact between these homemade electrodes and water.


 Then, keeping the ammeter on, a small spoon of kitchen salt is thrown into water. Quite immediately, the current into circuit boosts to 1,05 mA.


If supplementary the water is agitated using a common magnetic agitator, the current into circuit further increases to 4 mA.


 Experiment interpretation 

It is hard to believe that actual physics and chemistry sustained by a sophisticated mathematical apparatus is not able to give a consistent explanation to the first electric battery ever build. Therefore, in any scientific book this first battery made by Alessandro Volta is reminded only as a scientific curiosity.
According to actual interpretation a battery works based on a specific peculiarity of redox reactions. In a common aredox reaction there is a non/localised oxidation and reduction in the entire volume or mass of reactants. In this case, the transfer of electrons takes place at molecular level, directly between oxidation agent and reduction agent.
In a battery the oxidation takes place at one electrode and reduction at another electron and therefore the electrons have to go on a trip through the external circuit, where we can make use of them.

As far any functional battery supposes a redox reaction in background, for Volta battery the only possible reaction is between Zn and water as follows:

Zn + H2O = Zn(OH)2 + H2
In standard condition, copper does not react with water; up to date there is no scientific claim for a possible reaction between sodium chloride solution and Zinc or Copper metal plates. NaCl is nor a catalizer for the up presented reaction. When the ionic strength of a solution increase a ionic reaction must take place with a lower speed. 
As consequence, in the frame of actual physics and chemistry there is no reason why salted water amplifies an electric current in the external circuit with a factor of about thousand. There is no further consistent explanation why mechanical agitation of NaCl solution increases fourfold the electric current again ….It can be supposed that agitation contribute to the increase of reaction speed (hydrogen is easily removed, surface of contact increses) but cannot  explain the size of the observed effect. 
In order to have a current increase, chloride anion should send an electron through external circuit and eventually a sodium atom should catch it. But this is such an absurd thing ... or maybe we have tu suppose a tunnel effect in chemistry ....


In the frame of actual science, there is not possible to formulate a consistent explanation for the ,,kitchen salt effect” in case of Volta battery. Applying the Nernst equation for pure water or kitchen salt solution, there is a prediction for a small change in case of electrode potentials; but the intensity of electric current in external circuit should be the same  or smaller in presence of sodium chloride added to electrolyte.
If we accept that chemical energy is converted into electrical energy, there should be quite the same intensity of electric current (or a smaller one) dependent on the amount of salt added to water, as far the sodium chloride do not influence the reactions taking place at electrodes, but modify only the ionic strength of the solution. 

Volta battery needs a new explanation... in fact, the entire electrochemistry ...


From: "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
To: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:12 PM
Subject: ChemComm - Decision on Manuscripts ID CC-COM-05-2013-043664, 043842, 043956 and 043995


  Dear Dr Cosofret:

  MANUSCRIPT ID: CC-COM-05-2013-043664
TITLE: Under voltage electrolysis and foundation of exact sciences
AUTHORS: Cosofret, Sorin

  MANUSCRIPT ID: CC-COM-05-2013-043842
TITLE: Concentration cell and foundation of electrochemistry
AUTHORS: Cosofret, Sorin

  MANUSCRIPT ID: CC-COM-05-2013-043956
TITLE: Volta Battery and the basis of electricity
AUTHORS: Cosofret, Sorin

  MANUSCRIPT ID: CC-COM-05-2013-043995
TITLE: Can electrodes double oxidation phenomena generate an electric current?
AUTHORS: Cosofret, Sorin

  Thank you for your submissions to ChemComm, which I have read with interest. I regret to inform you however that this manuscript will not be considered further as a submission to the journal. All manuscripts submitted to ChemComm are initially evaluated by the Editors to ensure they meet the essential criteria for publication in the journal. I'm sorry to say that on this occasion your articles will undergo no further processing.

  In the justification accompanying manuscript CC-COM-05-2013-043664, you mention that the article is already part of a published book. As the content is already published and in the public domain, we cannot consider it for publication in ChemComm as it is a breach of the terms of our Licence to Publish, in particular Section 2, which states that:

  (c) the Work has not been and will not prior to publication by the RSC be published, with the sole exception of
deposition of the pre-submitted manuscript in non-commercial subject repository(ies).

  Furthermore, we do not feel that that a series of stand-alone experiments warrants publication as a series of communications.

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  I am sorry not to have better news for you. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider this work; we wish you every success should you decide to submit the article elsewhere. Thank you for your interest in ChemComm.

  Yours sincerely,


  Dr Eleanor A. Merritt, MRSC
Publishing Editor, ChemComm and Chemical Science

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