The potato is one of the most sustainable and most easily cooked foods among veggies. The potato is eaten and served all over the world as it is the world’s 4th most abundant crop: you can boil it, you can fry it, you can mash it, you can roast it, you can scallop it, and much more…
Potato fields can endure varying weather condition. Their endurance and weather resilience makes potatoes a cheap crop, good for filling any kitchen pantry. Also, they can be safely stored in your cold pantry for several months without attracting any insects or rodents.
Because of these excellent characteristics, all poverty-stricken households and villages in the so-called “third-world” heavily rely on potatoes for daily nourishment and energizing meals. So, being the “humble vegetable” that it is, the potato is willing to offer us even more.
Yes, besides its culinary uses to provide our bodies with nutrients and a blast of energy, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has discovered that the ordinary potato can energize our electric devices as well. You have probably read many articles on how to cook your potatoes, but this time you will read about how you can “plug a potato!”
The potato “rediscovered:” energy from the spud
Mr. Haim Rabinowitch and his research team have tested potatoes in the laboratory of Hebrew University of Jerusalem in order to source lighting, telecommunication, and information transfer electrically.
To sum up their work briefly, it turns out that a potato can act like any other battery, only it is tastier, more durable, and up to 50 times cheaper than the retail 1.5 V AA batteries we usually buy to charge our electrical accessories.
Plus it is a lot more environmental-friendly since it is easily degradable after use. The researchers found that boiling the potato improved the generation of energy 10 times more than a raw spud!
These enthusiastic scientists have shared their hope and belief that their valuable discovery will solve the low-power energy-lacking problem in poorer areas of the third world that are still without proper electrical power supply.
How Does a Potato Generate Electricity
Mr. Haim Rabinovitch, after extensive experimenting with different cuts of potatoes, has found that chopping the vegetable in quarters produced the best results.
This is what how he did it: He placed a zinc anode and a copper cathode, both connected to a wire, into the boiled quarter of the charging potato. Yes, it’s as easy and simple as that!
Just to clarify this phenomenon: the potato itself is not an energy source. It is simply a conductor of electricity, allowing the current to move freely across the wire to create energy. So, it is a natural version of battery acid. Boiling the spud breaks down the resistance in the starchy flesh so that the electrons can flow more freely. This empowers the overall electrical output.
Mr. Rabinovitch also devised a potato battery kit that includes 2 metal electrodes and alligator clips. Its design enables a newly boiled potato quarter to easily replace the dried up processor.
The alligator clips transport the electrical current to the electrodes, and to the positive and negative input points of the lightbulb. After reading about this very interesting experiment, people have started joking: “How many potatoes does it take to change a lightbulb?”
DIY Potato Battery
You will need:
- 1 potato
- 1 zinc nail
- 1 copper nail (or 1 penny)
- 1 wire
How to light a bulb with a potato:
Stick the “nails” on opposite sides of the potato. If you are using a penny, you may need to cut out a penny-sized hole to be able to place the coin halfway into the potato.
- Attach the clips (or wrap around one end of the wire) onto each nail. If you are using a penny, wrap the wire around the coin before inserting it into the potato.
- Repeat this process to create more energy! Connect the potatoes by attaching one end of the wire to a zinc nail and the other end to the copper on the next potato, and continue this until all the studs are linked.
- Now it is time to power it up! Try this with a lightbulb or another electrical appliance to get an environmentally-friendly energy source!
Note: No matter how hungry you are, DO NOT eat the used potato(es) afterwards! Your potato has done its job as an electrical conductor, so it won’t be any healthy to eat it. And unlike an alkaline battery, this type of bio-battery can be disposed of in the regular waste containers, along with your food leftovers. Isn’t this just great?
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