An examination on the Conductivity of Electricity in Liquids

This was a self conducted experiment for my Physics 100L not a perfect experiment but it presents some great ideas and information that could be useful in your PHY assignments.

Introduction

Electricity is something that we as humans use every day and at the same time it is something that we can take for granted because it is always available whenever we need it, unless of course one forgets to pay their utility company and experiences an unpleasant surprise. However, one never really truly considers the coming of the end of the or the possibility that everything in the world that is powered by electricity will one day suddenly blow out and cease to exist anymore, sort of like the ABC hit drama ‘Revolution’ which seems highly improbably, but we shouldn’t thrust it aside so quickly. If this indeed happened, would humanity behave in a way that Hollywood depicts people would act in such calamity, barbaric, and murderous? Or is it possible that society would indeed suffer loss and face difficulty for a time, however thereafter would return to normal? What could bring about such a sudden bounce back? Salt, in other words, salt not acting as a solvent alone but mixed with other specific types of liquid that are strong and capable enough to power cities even states, with the right technology and resources.  This lab seeks to understand if in fact specific types of liquids mixed with salt or that contains salt has the ability to conduct electricity and whether or not this is a breaking technique that can be used in the future or in a time of peril where society losses power, could these same types of properties power electricity. This lab also seeks s to understand why techniques like these are already not being used mainstream, and what some limitations or barriers are. Most of these liquids will conduct electricity. If these liquids conduct electricity, then society will have other available resources to power objects in case of a permanent detrimental power outage.

Experimental Methods

Materials

  • Styrofoam Cups
  • Tap Water
  • Purified Bottled Water
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lime Juice
  • Milk
  • Powder Orange Juice
  • Snap Circuit Kit

Procedures

A Step by step procedure for this experiment

  1. Fill 7 Styrofoam cups with each type of liquid ¾ the way
  2. Connect the circuit breaker, with the red LED, the 100Ω resistor, two AA 1.5V batteries, like in the photo below.
  3. Take the end of a red jumper, and the end of the black jumper, and connect it to terminals A & B.
  4. Take the other ends of the jumpers and one by one submerge them in each liquid observing the LED brightness.
  5. Record your observations

Data

According to the table below most of the liquids that were tested conducted electricity, and made the LED shine, however that brightness varied from liquid to liquid. Only one liquid, which was Olive Oil, did not conduct electricity at all. Apple Cider Vinegar made the LED shine the brightest, while the purified water and powered orange juice was least bright of all the liquids that conducted electricity.

Variables

Independent Variables

  • Tap Water
  • Purified Bottled Water
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lime Juice
  • Milk
  • Powder Orange Juice

Dependent Variables

Snap Circuit Kit with 2 1.5V batteries, a 100Ω resistor, a red LED, 2 leads or jumpers

Controlled Variables

  • ¾ cup filled with liquid
  • Styrofoam cups

Conductors/Non Conductors of Electricity

Liquids

Conducts Electricity

Does not conduct electricity

LED Brightness

Saltwater

*

Quite Bright

Purified Water

*

Slightly Bright

Lime Juice

*

Quite Bright

Powered Orange Juice

*

Slight Bright

2% Milk

*

Quite Bright

Apple Cider Vinegar

*

Very Bright

Olive Oil

*

LED isn’t lit

Discussion

My hypothesis proved to be correct, in that most of the liquids would conduct electricity. It is understood that salt which is chlorine and sodium, which alone cannot conduct electricity, however when mixed with certain liquids, or if certain liquids contain salt those liquids will conduct electricity. What was interesting about this experiment was that Olive Oil did not conduct electricity which was surprising seeing as it comes from very salty like vegetables, which are olives. At the same time it has been said that pure Olive Oil sold in grocery stores are not actually pure and real Olive Oil but that there are other added ingredients, like vegetable oil, and other enhancements, in order to keep costs low for distributors and suppliers. (Bardot) Though it would have been interesting to know if the Olive Oil would conduct electricity had I added salt to the Olive Oil, or if it would had I heated the Olive Oil and added the salt to let it dissolve, these factors I did not test, but could be favorable to do in another experiment. However, the second portion of my hypothesis is not at this time able to be proven, we know that these particular liquids can conduct electricity, however we don’t know how much or what type of techniques are needed to power large household appliances, to power plants. It is possible to theorize that with the proper and available resources, tools, and techniques that appliances could be powered by liquids that conduct electricity. What I have gained from this experiment is that is it indeed possible to power objects with energy other than solar, however I also understand that is also predicated on the amount of voltage of an object and the resistor that could limit the ability of liquids conductivity, but at the same time if you have more liquid then you have more conductivity to power larger items. Also what is important is safety which could explain why this technique is not being used all over, maybe a safe way to conduct this electricity has not been created or found. Also how to power cities across cities, states across states, is another factor that may not have been understood or created, which could take time. In addition to that, how fast this energy is being burned or transferred could be another factor that has to be worked out when conducting electricity with liquids, and also environmental issues could also be a deterring factor. In conclusion, this is not an impossible procedure, but it is a growing theory that is now being exercised and tested. We can expect that there will be major advancements in this in the future, as the new digital age continues to be, and we are being threatened with things like Global warming, and what not. Patience is key.

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