In this Activity, students construct a simple battery from aluminum foil, saltwater, and activated charcoal. The battery can power a small motor or light. This Activity demonstrates oxidation and reduction reactions, which are integral parts of battery chemistry. The use of atmospheric oxygen as an oxidizing agent has extensions to other redox reactions that occur in corrosion, metabolism, and combustion. In addition, the participation of oxygen as a reactant in the aluminum-air battery can be used to introduce the concepts of fuel cells and alternative energy sources.
Modesto Tamez and Julie H. Yu, J. Chem. Educ. 2007, 84, p1936A.