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Build Your Own Band-aid Fuel Cell 84

ptorrone writes "Here's how to make a fuel cell from a band-aid...This has got to be the simplest way to build a fuel cell from scratch. The design is ridiculously simple, whilst being effective - it will allow you to explore the concepts of fuel cells in a ludicrously simple way."
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Build Your Own Band-aid Fuel Cell

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  • Sounds... Simple
    • got methanol?
    • Re:Simple (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2006 @04:37AM (#15493092)
      First get a band-aid. Make sure it has a large sterile pad area.

      Remove the backing from the adhesive and set it aside. Next, buy a fuel cell from the online fuel cell store. Then, carefully attach the fuel cell to the adhesive part of the band-aid.

      Finally, wave your wand while saying "A-la peanut butter sandwiches", and hey presto! it is done!
  • meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by darkrowan ( 976992 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:59AM (#15492841) Homepage
    Still requires you to buy specialty parts to complete. Sure, its a nifty idea. But so is trying to make a V8 engine out of soda cans. You'd still have to buy some parts to make it work right. Let me know when you can do it from just the store bought items.
    • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrFlannel ( 762587 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:09AM (#15492860)
      Oh, Oh!
      I've got one. Take a lemon, a piece of zinc, and a piece of copper...
      well, you know the rest.

      I know, it's not much. But it's hundreds of times more interesting than this article.

      It's like saying "We've used a band aid to hold together this light bulb, battery, and piece of wire. look! we can show you how to make a flashlight out of a band aid!" Quite deceptive indeed.
      • Re:meh (Score:3, Insightful)

        by njh ( 24312 )
        What disturbs me is that pressing on the cell apparently doubled the voltage. TFA claims that this is due to the electrode making a better contact. But they are measuring the voltage with a digital multimeter, with an input impediance of at least 10M. This means that the fuel cell has an output impedance of the order of 10M too - you'd probably get more power out of a calculator solar panel on a stary night!

        (alternatively, the finger is warming it up or something)
      • Re:meh (Score:3, Informative)

        The sticking plaster does perform a couple of important roles in this design. It is "breathable," so it lets oxygen in so that it can react with the methanol. The gauze pad is absorbant and will hold a few drops of methanol solution, so you don't need a continuous feed of methanol to the anode.

        Plus, holding together the other componoents is not exactly unimportant! For the cost of obtaining them, sticking plasters are tough and their adhesive is durable.
    • Re:meh (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Davus ( 905996 )
      MEA stands for "Membrane Electrode Assembly", this is the bit that "does the works". You can make your own, they are rather difficult to assemble, much simpler is to buy one that is already made from
      So basically this article just tells you how to hold the main piece into something (bandaid) that makes it look simple...
      • Re:meh (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Nazo-San ( 926029 )
        So basically this article just tells you how to hold the main piece into something (bandaid) that makes it look simple...

        Read my website to find out how to do it using some scotch tape instead! (This was just a joke, I have no such site.)

        Seriously though. There must be something I'm missing here, right? I mean, is there supposed to maybe be some kind of interaction between the methanol and the antibacterials placed on some band-aids or something? Surely no one is dumb enough that they'd come up with thi
        • Right on, that's what I'm saying. It's like saying you make your own adhesive, and the key ingredient is pre-bought glue.
    • Re:meh (Score:1, Offtopic)

      I think the point of this "blog" entry is to redirect a Slashdot mob to the online store selling the parts you need (which I'm not going to pimp). Pernicious advertising no less.
      • You mean Oh Crap I mentioned it. Sorry.
        They probably paid the guy to write an article about interesting hobby fuel cell making, that uses some of their parts. So he figured the most novel idea was to put it on a bandage.
      • You mean the "totally fabby" store? The guy lost all credibility when he said that. Then he insisted on calling the metal screen "posh." Twice.
    • Re:meh (Score:3, Funny)

      They already did this... it was called the Chevy Vega.
    • > Still requires you to buy specialty parts to complete

      Yep! From the artice:


      MEA stands for "Membrane Electrode Assembly", this is the bit that "does the works". You can make your own, they are rather difficult to assemble, much simpler is to buy one that is already made from


      Tomorrow - how to make your own car using only a can of paint...and a car.
  • I see a bit more than a bandaid in the directions.
  • High quality indeed... maybe that stuff would keep the mosquitoes out. And the airborn bacterium. So basically, build a fuel cell, and use one part known by laymen? Impressive. Why don't they just put the bandage on the outside of a ballard fuel cell bus?
  • I think our technicians and scientists should focus on simple technology first.
    Simple technology is, ehm, simple to implement with possibly fewer failure chances and also fewer environmental issues.
    This is what the world really needs now.
    • This is what the world really needs now.

      You're mistaken...

      What the world needs now is love, sweet love
      It's the only thing that there's just too little of
      What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
      No not just for some but for everyone.
    • can't get much simpler than burning wood...

      of course there is that double environmental issue caused by doing so.

      Look, we have our current situation of burning fossil fuels and such because it is the simple solution. While the idea of wind power and solar power may appear simple the technology to make them viable solutions is anything but. Hell if it were simple we would have had someone marketing it to us day and night.

      • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <`sd_resp2' `at' `'> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @07:00AM (#15493361)
        Wood isn't a fossil fuel. It's entirely renewable. Growing trees abstract CO2 from the atmosphere and release oxygen ..... spookily enough, exactly the same amounts of CO2 as you're going to produce and O2 as you're going to consume when you burn that wood. You were taught why in your third year chemistry classes. All the energy stored in the chemical bonds in plant matter originally came from the sun. As long as you plant enough trees, accounting for infant mortality, to replace the ones you are using up {which is not rocket science, just simple forestry management}, then you have a closed cycle. {Note that maintenance and harvesting require energy which is not released in burning, but there's no reason for this energy not to be sourced from renewables}. A tree being grown for energy should be harvested as soon as possible after its growth slows down, since beyond this point you are adding fewer kg. of wood, and hence MWh of energy, per day that passes. This is no different to killing a chicken for meat when its egg production slows down. Both come under the general heading of husbandry.

        Where there is private ownership of land coupled with a high population density, there is an automatic incentive to make every square metre of land work for its keep. Poor forestry managers don't last long in that sort of climate; they invariably run out of money and get their business taken over by someone who can do the job properly. Basically what is happening is that the monetary value of the product is closely tracking the non-monetary value. The main failing of Capitalism as it is practised today is that it only takes notice of the monetary value of goods; but when non-monetary value is directly related to monetary value, then capitalism works.

        Non-renewable energy appears cheap, because we're effectively stealing it from succeeding generations. The point will come eventually when it will cost more than renewable energy and that is when the world will have no option but to switch. The damage done by non-renewables is probably reversible, but that won't be anything like an instantaneous process.

        I sometimes wonder if the answer to half the world's problems would not be to peg the world's currencies against the megawatt-hour, rather than the value of someting capricious like silver or gold. The price of crude oil being tied to the US dollar doesn't count: that is just as capricious, and the USA has a nasty tendency to invade countries who mention pricing their oil by the Euro.
        • The current economic system (especially in North America) is so out of whack with reality it's not even funny. We pay actors and atheletes millions of dollars, and they produce nothing. Yet we pay farmers, who produce every scrap of food on our plate, to whom we owe our very survival, next to nothing. In many cases, not even enough to maintain their own farms. Sometimes I think we need some sort of catastrophe, like running out of oil, to snap us out of our fantasy world and back to reality.
          • To make a note on the forestry idea..... to produce the amount of fuel needed to run the entire country you're talking about a logging and burning project that would place carbon into the air and remove from the forest billions of tons of decaying wood which is a vital piece of the forest ecology. Neither of which is really a viable option.

            As far as the economy and why we pay athletes millions of dollars and farms nothing it's because our system works on the premise of scarcity and capital. Those with sca

        • "I sometimes wonder if the answer to half the world's problems would not be to peg the world's currencies against the megawatt-hour, rather than the value of someting capricious like silver or gold."

          Either way, it would likely be better than pegging the world's currencies to exactly nothing, which is the current system. It's certainly an interesting idea... the problem is savings. How do you store a megawatt-hour? I've read that at night the wholesale price of electricity can drop to zero because the

          • One thing you can do is use electricity to pump water up from a reservoir at the bottom of a mountain to a reservoir at the top when demand is slack, and use that to spin a turbine when needed. There's a plant in Wales [] that does just that. You don't need to store the actual electricity that represents someone's savings in a battery, as long as you can prove that you have the capacity to produce it as fast as they can consume it. In fact, you are storing the energy in a way -- just in the form of gravitat
  • by the_REAL_sam ( 670858 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @04:00AM (#15492991) Journal
    how many watt-hours, at how many volts? and, just as important, is it rechargable?

    anyhow, the bandaids were incidental. the "mea" part was $47.50. it's a heck of an expensive battery, even if IS a WONDER battery.

  • by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @04:02AM (#15492993) Journal
    Gypsies used a similar trick to get free lunch, they called it "nail soup". Tell the host that you can cook a "nail soup", a soup based on a nail.
    - One big nail
    - Water
    - Groats
    - Bacon
    - Salt, Spices, Herbs
    - (...some more foodstuffs, I don't remember).

    The idea was to cook a basic groats-based soup with nail in it. The nail didn't provide anything to the soup except of curiosity factor that made the host to provide the rest of the ingredients. The gypsy would eat one bowl, the host another, the nail would be saved for another cooking of the soup...

    Here they use band-aid instead of the nail.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Gypsies used a similar trick to get free lunch, they called it "nail soup".

      This story "Nail Broth" was on a Danny Kaye album [] called "Danny Kaye Tells 6 Stories From Faraway Places" (1960). I listened to it as a kid, but haven't heard it in years.

      And yeah, having read the article, it's kinda like the band aid part is the least important...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    [Article summary:]
    Incredibly Easy Way to Build A Ludicrously Simple Potato Battery.

    Materials list:
    1. 2 nice big potatoes.
      Any ones will do. Make sure you don't get a sweet potato.
    2. Stainless Steel Fly Screen.
      If you want to get really techie and heavy about stainless steel fly screen, the material that I used was top-notch stuff! The stainless steel was 318 grade - very high quality!! The screen was 72 wires per inch in both directions, with each wire bei
  • I suppose it makes no difference what brand you use, but the marketing implications of this are phenomenal. Imagine having bandaids that don't glow but actually light themselves!

    Add a nifty strobe effect and you'll have the perfect rave accessories anytime you fall off your bike!
  • It seemed an awful lot of fuss to me, what's wrong with copper wire, steel wire, and a lemon? Now that's simple.
  • Let's see how long it takes 'til someone figures out to power the timer for some bomb with a similar design and we can't get band aids anymore.

    "Sorry bud, you're bleeding and we can't do anything to avoid infections. But doesn't it give you a fuzzy warm feeling that it's all done for national security?"
  • People wanting to look at this seriously should buy the PDF instruction book available from []. I got one, and it's good :) Damned good. I'm thinking about getting some other ones ( eg the solar one looks interesting too ).
  • This is remarkably like an article I once wrote about how to make a fission generator with stuff lying around the house. It turns out not everyone else has the same stuff lying around the house as me.
  • Ludicrous, simply ludicrous. Got to love that word, "ludicrous". Everyone, find a situation and use it in your conversation today and report back. Extra points if you used WHILST talking with your employer. Ludicrously yours, Me
  • by derubergeek ( 594673 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @01:23PM (#15495761) Homepage Journal
    It would appear that the submitter of the story is Phillip Torrone [], the host of the MAKE blog (and apparently a Senior Editor?). I'd like to think that's not really the case: MAKE is really cool and this fuel cell is really lame. The worst part is that now I have that stupid "I am stuck on Band-Aid brand, 'cause Band-Aid's stuck on me" jingle running through my head.
  • I was expecting to see something really cool. I guess I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up - it is MAKE magazine, after all, the wonderful magazine that seems to do anything BUT show you how to make something. Rather, it seems like many articles are of the "first, buy something expensive, then tweak it" variety - which is anything but making something.

    What was I expecting from a "bandaid fuel cell" in an article from a magazine named MAKE?

    Well, perhaps something describing how to build a fuel cell that doesn

  • This Band-Aid Battery strikes me as a really temporary, stop-gap solution.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!