Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015 - (Page 10)

The PolluCell Generating Electricity Using Waste and Pollution by Sahil Doshi e ven before my sister told me about the Discovery Education 3M into the water. I eventually created a cell that converted the carbon Young Scientist Challenge (YSC), I was thinking of a way to dioxide in the water into approximately 800 millivolts of electricity. I spent over a month developing prototypes before I began filmsolve two big problems: the lack of access to electricity in developing ing. Creating the video itself was very difficult because all of the countries, and the excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As I project's information had to be reduced to just one to two minthought about ways to address these two problems, I came up with utes. I spent hours editing and re-filming the idea of a battery that uses carbon dioxide before finally submitting my entry the and recycled materials to generate electrici knew that silver wOuld make day before the deadline. ity. Learning about the YSC was exactly the motivation I needed to pursue this idea. The an effective cathOde, but peOple Improving on Success contest is for students in grades five through When I entered the competition, I didn't eight; as an eighth grader, I was in my last dOn't usually discard it. fOrtuthink I had a chance of winning, as this year of eligibility. There was no time to waste. was my first time entering. When I got To enter the challenge, I had to submit a nately, i fOund a gOOd sOurce in a call in June saying that I was selected one- to two-minute video about my idea for as one of the ten national finalists, I an innovative solution to an everyday probmy used silver-plated cOpper was exuberant. lem. My battery idea definitely fit the bill, but Each finalist was paired with a 3M sciI had a lot of work to do before I could make entist, who would serve as their mentor. a video about it. guitar strings. In July, I met my mentor, Dr. Jim Jonza, Battery Basics a polymer chemist at the 3M World A battery consists of one or more electrochemical cells, each of which Headquarters in Minnesota, via a phone call. After discussing how contains two half-cells: an anode and a cathode. The anode is more the project would look at the final event, we set weekly goals leadprone to losing electrons, while the cathode is more prone to gaining ing to the competition finals in October. Every week, Dr. Jonza electrons. When you attach a wire between the anode and cathode, and I talked over the phone about improvements I'd made on the electrons flow from the anode to the cathode through the wire, creatproject. On Google Drive, we looked at photos highlighting my ing electricity. An external device, such as a lightbulb, can be powered progress as well as documents illustrating ideas for improvement. by attaching it to the wire. This routine continued for three months, until I developed and I wanted my battery to use inexpensive and preferably recycled tested a prototype that I would use in my five-minute presentation materials. For the anode I chose aluminum, which easily loses elecat the competition. trons and which, in the form of used beverage cans, is readily availIn the Spotlight able. I knew that silver would make an effective cathode, but people don't usually discard it. Fortunately, I found a good source in my used On October 12, I boarded the plane from Pittsburgh to St. Paul, silver-plated copper guitar strings. Minnesota, readying myself for three days of nervous excitement. I put carbonated water in the two half-cells and added salt to each On the first night, the finalists got to know each other and meet to catalyze the reaction, then placed aluminum in one and guitar the judges and staff at an ice cream social. The event was a huge strings in the other. To speed up the reaction, I attached two copper stress reliever, as I saw that the other finalists shared many of my wires to the terminals of a 9-volt battery and put the end of each wire interests, from science to sports to video games. 10 imagine May/June 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015

Big Picture
In My Own Words Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy, UC Berkeley
A Solar-Powered Solution to the Water Crisis Using the sun to purify water
The PolluCell Generating electricity using waste and pollution
More than a Race The Solar Car Challenge
Energy Agenda The power of teen research
Energized! A crash course in fuels of the future
Grease Is Good Helping the environment and the community with biofuel
Fueled by Algae Sara Volz and the powerful potential of pond scum
The Future of Energy Five careers in green power
My Sanskrit Yaatra Connecting with my culture through language
Devoted Awareness My internship with Until There’s a Cure
Selected Opportunities and Resources
Off the Shelf Review of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options Interview with green architect Andrew Thompson
One Step Ahead Six things incoming college students should know
Planning Ahead for College Developing your passions
Students Review: University of Pennsylvania
Creative Minds Imagine
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015