How to Make a Zamboni Pile

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The Zamboni Pile, also known as the Duluc Dry Pile, is a very old type of electrostatic battery that was made during the 1800s. It was created by Giuseppe Zamboni in relation with the Voltaic pile presented by Alessandro Volta.

The Voltaic pile is soaked on salt water to improve its performance, making it emit steady and lasting current. On the other side, the Zamboni pile uses manganese oxide, therefore, corrosion and oxidation will not most-likely occur. The downside in Voltaic pile is that you cannot stack up a lot of paper materials as it will squeeze out the salted water. This problem was solved by Giuseppe as he replaced salted water with manganese oxide, therefore, stacking up a lot of paper will never be a problem.

So for this experiment, we are going to make an ancient battery – Zamboni Pile!

What you will need:

Round Paper Cutter. I have found a Fiskar Cutter which will work perfectly when cutting the pieces of materials for your dry pile.

Volt-Ohm Meter. Make sure you buy one that can read low voltages and currents.

Masking Tape

2 1-inch Copper Wires.

Silver paper. A paper that has a thin layer of zinc on one side.

Manganese oxide powder


Glass tube. Cut paper must fit inside. Both ends should be open.

Molten Sulfur or Pitch


What to do:

*Safety Precaution: Please wear gloves before you begin the experiement to ensure that you will not directly hold the materials that will be used.

  1. Get your silver paper and cut them using your round paper puncher. Cut as many as possible because the voltage increases depending on the number of silver paper stacked together.
  2. Mix manganese oxide and honey.
  3. Get a silver paper and thinly apply the mixture of manganese oxide and honey on the paper area.
  4. Get your copper wire (A) and stick one end on one of the silver paper. Attach it on the side where the manganese oxide is. Secure using a masking tape.
  5. Apply manganese oxide on all the paper and pile them up until you have filled the entire glass tube.
  6. On the top part of the pile, attach a copper wire (B) once again. Make sure that you attach it on the silver area. Secure using a masking tape.
  7. Dip your pile on a molten sulfur or pitch to insulate. Do not dip the copper wires.
  8. Insert everything inside your glass tube.

The copper wire with the manganese oxide will serve as the negative charge while the end where the silver is will serve as the positive charge.

I am attaching a video about Zamboni Pile created by YouTube guru VK2ZAY so that you may be able to see the idea how it works. However, his Zamboni Pile used steel on both ends instead of the copper wire we have used. I preferred the copper wire because electricity will travel better on it.

Please take note that the voltage your Zamboni Pile will produce will depend on the many silver paper with manganese oxide you use. The greater the number is, the higher the voltage it produces.


Related Articles:

Voltaic Pile: First Electrochemical Cell

Experiment: Make a Voltaic Pile


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