This battery of potatoes is capable of lighting a room for 40 days

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Ricky Joseph

At some point during your school life, you probably made or have seen a potato battery. A few years ago, Israeli researchers released the discovery that a potato cooked for eight minutes can produce a battery with ten times the power of a raw potato battery.

Building a super battery of boiled potatoes

The system of the boiled potato battery is the same as the ones we know from high school. After cooking the potatoes for about 8 minutes, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem cut them into small slices and assembled the battery in layers, each potato slice was between a copper cathode and a zinc anode, which were connected by a wire.

When the system was connected to LED wires, it was able to provide electrical power to a room for 40 days at a cost 10 times less than the type AA batteries currently used around the globe.

A single potato could provide enough power to charge mobile phones and other personal electronics in poor, underdeveloped and remote regions without access to a power grid, at a much lower cost than conventional batteries.

Do the potatoes produce the energy?

The potato itself is not a power source, what it actually does is help conduct electricity. The potato acts as a salt bridge between the two metals, allowing the current of electrons to move freely across the wire to create electricity. In fact, several other electrolyte-rich fruits like bananas and strawberries can also form this chemical reaction.

Potatoes were chosen for this experiment because of their wide availability all over the planet, they are one of the four most abundant crops on Earth. In addition, they can be stored for months and do not attract many insects like other crops.

Why does the battery of boiled potatoes generate more energy?

There's not much of a secret as to why boiled potatoes increase battery productivity. It's very simple, when you cook the potato, the boiling breaks down the resistance of the tuber's fibers, which allows electrons to flow much more freely, and consequently, this significantly increases overall electrical output.

Cutting the potato into four or five pieces also makes the process more efficient. With two alligator metal electrodes and, some parts that can be replaced cheaply, such as the zinc cathode that can be replaced with a screw washer, for example.

If potato batteries are so efficient, why aren't they being used?

There are a number of implications of using these batteries. First, are there enough potatoes to eat? The use of these batteries would be primarily targeted at poor and remote regions that do not have access to an electrical grid. After eating and selling the potatoes to meet other needs, would there be the main material needed to produce energy left over? Economically speaking, thefood-based energy can only be viable provided that they do not consume the necessary supply of food and that these companies do not compete with the farmers who grow them for the market.

Second, people are barely aware of the energy production potential of potato batteries. Other clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power, while more expensive, gain far more visibility. The experiment was publicized nearly ten years ago, but to date, no commercial investor or nonprofit organization has stepped forward to help expand or distributeany of the prototypes developed by researchers in Israel.

For most, potato batteries are just a high school chemistry experiment. And while researchers have already shown their potential, their discovery really needs to make an impact, to gain notoriety, to be implemented.

Original Publication SoCientific .

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.